idis turato + saša randić design museum in croatia dedicated to apoxyomenos
all images by bosnić + dorotić (maja bosnić and ivan dorotić)




‘apoxyomenos’ is a bronze statue of a young athlete, which was discovered in 1996 in the vicinity of mali lošinj — a croatian town on the island of lošinj. the conservation and restoration works on the unique archaeological find lasted for six years, after which apoxyomenos toured numerous exhibitions in croatia, as well as famous museums such as palazzo medici riccardi in florence, the louvre in paris, the british museum in london, and the j. paul getty museum in los angeles. seventeen years after he was found, apoxyomenos has now returned to mali lošinj in a museum designed and built specifically for him.

a dramatic escalator leads a group of 20 visitors at a time through a white painted tube




designed by idis turato and saša randić, the institution has been inserted within a space defined by the existing kvarner palace. conceived as ‘a house within a house’, a visit to the museum of apoxyomenos involves passing through various rooms and passages on the way to the eponymous sculpture. upon entering the building, visitors encounter the museum’s multifunctional atrium, known as ‘the blue room’. here, a suspended white welded construction is immersed in ‘yves klein blue’ that dominates the inner walls of the former palace. a dramatic escalator leads a group of 20 visitors at a time through this white painted tube to reach the main exhibition hall lined with industrial rubber — ‘the black room’. exhibition areas tell the story of apoxyomenos, including its history, context, discovery, and restoration.

the main exhibition hall is lined with industrial rubber




next, visitors reach a small amphitheater clad with a hand-woven merino wool carpet conceived by studio kulenturato. designed to create the feeling of a strange walk through a wheat field, or even a seabed, the tactile space invites visitors to lie down and relax — a feeling that contrasts with the previous exhibition hall. ‘the tapestry symbolizes the unique story of how the statue was recovered and its visual history,’ explains studio kulenturato. ‘each part of the tapestry is drawn digitally creating a non repeating unique drawing translated by the artisans at regernacija using their analogue craft. the carpet uses over 14 different color ranges and gradients with numerous shaving depths, creating a vivid and 3D surface.’

a small amphitheater is lined with a hand-woven merino wool carpet




after the amphitheater, a narrow staircase known as the ‘red passage’ ascends to the ‘yellow room’ — a small space with surveillance cameras and a sequence of newspaper and internet headlines related to the bronze athlete. a forensically precise body of research is displayed on the walls, treating apoxyomenos as a media superstar worthy of a devoted fan’s obsession. a worm’s eye view of the statue can also be enjoyed through the hole in the ceiling, where visitors can glimpse part of the sculpture for the first time.

a forensically precise body of research is displayed on the walls




the ‘olive passage’, a winding space paneled with roughly trimmed wood, then climbs upwards with microclimatic inset chambers containing pieces of wood, twigs, and leaves, which were found inside the sculpture. finally, through a round opening, visitors can see the statue from its torso to its head. in this part of the museum there is an intense scent of oil and olives, while the floor creeks under the visitors’ steps.

the ‘olive passage’ is a winding space paneled with roughly trimmed wood




the museum experience culminates in ‘the white room’, a completely monochrome and silent volume with canvas-covered walls. its only exhibition piece is the famed bronze statue of apoxyomenos. the room is lined with a translucent white canvas and glass floor that emanates and diffuses light. ‘the whole space, which was originally polygonal, was shaped into a membrane made of translucent and elastic textile, with soft, smooth and abstractly sculptural forms,’ explains vanja ilić of donassy atelier, who designed the installation. ‘the whole process was carried out by applying the architectural solution and the sartorial construction on the exhibition space. the final result is a complete dematerialisation of the space which, together with the illuminated floor, makes for the optimal lighting, with the statue dominating the entire space.’

the museum experience culminates in ‘the white room’




the final room sits on the top of the museum, containing an amphitheater that mirrors the town of mali lošinj below. various views of the adjacent harbor are reflected in the mirrors on the ceiling and walls. guests can see the sculpture through another round opening, and are invited to share their museum photos on social networks. finally, visitors return to the foyer of the museum using the elevator or staircase.

various views of the adjacent harbor are reflected in the mirrors above

visitors return to the foyer of the museum using the elevator or staircase

the institution has been inserted within a space defined by the existing kvarner palace

the design is conceived as ‘a house within a house’

the entrance to the museum building

museum-of-apoxyomenos-idis-turato-sasa-randic-mali-losinj-croatia-designboom GIF
section indicating the sequence of rooms



project info:


architects: idis turato and saša randić
location: mali lošinj, croatia
interior design: idis turato and collaborators
project team and collaborators: iskra karniš vidovič / croatian conservation institute (museums permanent display concept), ana kučić (project manager), miljenko domijan (head consultant), janko jelić, hrvoje sedlić, andrija čuljak, damir šiljeg (architects and engineers collaborating in project competition entry phase), ana staničić i josip mičetić (architects collaborationg in construction phase), vanja ilić (translucent textile installation in white room), kulenturato (colorful room concept and design), marino krstačić-furić, ana tomić, maja bosnić and ivan dorotić (yellow room concept and design), boris kirinčić and ivan arbanas (structure designers), nicholas riis (art consultant), luka predragović (graphic design and visual identity), nikolina jelavić mitrović (display panels design and botanical showcase design), svjetlana despot (furniture design), nora turato (audio installation)
photography: bosnić + dorotić (maja bosnić and ivan dorotić)  


area: 800 sqm / 8,611 sqf
project year: 2009 (competition)
completion: 2016
investors / client: ministry of culture of the republic of croatia and the town of mali lošinj