Croatia has an abundance of interesting heritage stories which are told through many culture and tourism projects around the country. Behind a large number of them is the creative team of Muze / Muses.
Muze / Muses was founded in 2005 by art historian and museum professional Dragana Lucija Ratković Aydemir.
After as many as 10 years of work in the Croatian Ministry of Culture, she stepped into entrepreneurial waters. Starting a company that was first to provide services strictly reserved for the public sector was no easy task.
Her courageous, pioneering endeavor arose as a response to the great need from people and local communities to connect with heritage at a deeper and more mindful level.
The company’s earliest project was the first eco-museum in Croatia – Ecomuseum Batana in Rovinj, which Dragana has strategically led for years on her own.
The importance of the project for the local community was recognized by UNESCO itself, which in 2016 listed it as best practice for the preservation of intangible cultural heritage in the world.
Shortly after that, Muze / Muses started to create a unique destination “Ogulin’s homeland of fairy tales”, which, along with “Ivana’s fairytale house” and “Ogulin festival of fairytales”, transformed the city of Ogulin into an unavoidable tourist destination on a national level.
“From the very beginning, it is very important for us to listen to the local community and to intimately connect with its spirit of place. In this way, we can successfully give voice to valuable heritage stories and enable them to be celebrated locally, and internationally,” Muze / Muses tells us.
Muze / Muses is best known for their immersive museum exhibitions; however, they are only one part of their work.
“So far we have been predominantly involved in the development of various strategic documents, interpretation plans and trainings on management in culture and tourism. We owe our versatility to our interdisciplinary Muze / Muses team, which today has 8 experts in various fields: museologists, art historians, anthropologists, ethnologists, managers in culture and tourism. We truly believe that different perspectives provide us with innovative and creative solutions” they add.
Muses has grow gradually and stably over the year with recognitions of previous projects leading to the start of new and exciting collaborations. However, a bigger leap in their team occurred when they participated in the first systematic heritage interpretation of protected areas in Croatia.
Through a big tender of at that time Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection, Muses’ team of creatives developed 30 different interpretation and design plans over a three-year period.
Among them were the visitor centres Poklon in Nature Park Učka and Medvedgrad in Nature Park Medvednica. Their permanent exhibitions have recently been internationally awarded with the prestigious MUSE Creative Awards in the gold category and the BIG SEE Tourism Design Award 2022.
“We are proud that the jury highlighted the interpreted heritage stories and recognized them as unforgettable visitor experiences,” they said, before adding.
“It is difficult to highlight just one project because each of them is special in its own way. We always fall in love with every project we work on.
We consider it best to start the project with a clear strategic framework and intensive cooperation with the local community and its decision-making individuals. Multiphase and thorough planning is necessary for the long-term nature of the project.
Several previous phases are needed for the final step – implementation. In our projects we involve a large number of collaborators, scientists, designers and artists from different fields. We are all immersed together with the client in a process that can take years. Cooperation is the foundation of our business, and it, together with transparent action, enables the creation of original solutions to every challenge.”
Muze / Muses says that heritage interpretation is a universal key for them to transmitting the universal values of any place.
“We consider ourselves as mediators and through participatory cooperation, the local community starts owning the place and its spirit by recognising its key heritage phenomena that can be carefully shaped into a unique heritage experiences. The process is always as valuable to us, and sometimes more valuable, than the result itself. Through it passion, enthusiasm, and love for heritage are awakened again. It creates new values that can transform and bring positive changes in community and individual peoples life.”
Over the years, the Muze / Muses collective has been steadily expanding, enriched with energy, creativity and an innovative vision that Dragana skilfully implanted in her team.
After 17 successful years, Muze / Muses has proven to be a sustainable business model that today signs more than 100 projects in culture and tourism. More importantly, countless heritage stories that have touched everyone who encounters them.
You can find out more about Muze / Muses on their website.