HRVATSKA AKADEMIJA ZNANOSTI I UMJETNOSTI
CROATIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND ARTS


HISTORY of ACADEMY

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Main tasks of the Academyline150.gif (853 bytes)
  Organization and Membership
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The Founding of the Academy

 


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Croatian Academy of
Sciences and Arts

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HRVATSKI
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Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer (1815-1905), founder and patron of the Academy

 

 

Atrij3.JPG (209194 bytes)The atrium of the Academy Palace

 

 

 

The first half of the nineteenth century saw the emergence of the Croatian National Revival, whose ideals challenged the existing imperial absolutism and feudal order of the Austrian Empire. Its leaders soon conceived the idea of founding "a learned society whose airn would be to promote culture in the national language". This was first suggested by Tomaš Mikloušic in the book Izbor dugovanj vsakoverstneh, in 1821 and then taken up and elaborated by Ljudevit Gaj, leader of the National Revival, in his weekly magazine Danica. In 1836 the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) immediately endorsed the idea, which it incorporated into a parliamentary conclusion in the same year.Since the conclusion was not confirmed by the Austrian emperor, Ferdinand I, the parliament repeated its proposal in 1843, 1845, and 1847. However, due to the Revolution of 1848, the restoration of absolutism in the ten years that followed, the abolition of the constitution, and the dissolution of the parliament, all further activities were postponed for 13 years.

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The facade of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts palace Zagreb

Then, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, bishop of Đako vo and Srijem, took action to found a South Slavic Academy in Zagreb. He presented Josip Šokcevic, the ban (governor of Croatia), with a 50,000 florin endowment for the founding of the Academy. He also sent a letter expressing his wish that the Academy should "bring   together the best minds (...) and find a way in which books in the national languages could be produced in the Slavic South; the Acaderny should also take under its aegis all the areas of human science".

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The National House (Illyrian Hall), the frst headquarters of the Academy

The Academy issue was offlcially raised by Bishop Strossmayer at a session of the Croatian parliament on 29 April 1861. Following the bishop's proposal, the parliament immediately elected a   committee to draw up a statute for the Academy, and define its aims and organization. It was only five years later, on 4 March 1866, that the rules of the Academy, in a considerably changed form, were flnally confirmed by Francis Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. These remained unchanged until the beginning of World War II.  During the existence of the Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945), the name of the Academy was changed to the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts; in the Socialist Republic of Croatia it resumed its activities under the former name of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts. After the establishment of the independent and democratic Republic of Croatia, a bill concerning the Croatian Academy was proposed by the Academy. The new Croatian Academy Act was passed by the Croatian parliament on 26 June 1991, confirming the importance of all the activities of the highest institution of sciences and arts in the Republic of Croatia.

Although the first act conceming the founding of the Academy in Zagreb was passed by the Croatian parliament already in 1861, its establishment was actually ratified only when its rules, which had been proposed by the Croatian parliament in changed form as required by the Austrian authorities, were confirmed by the emperor in his letter of 4 March 1866. After that, the parliament proposed the first sixteen mem- bers of the Academy. In this way, the Academy  was finally constituted, both actually and legally. Bishop Strossmayer was elected patron of the Academy, and Franjo Rački, a distinguished Croatian historian, its first president. Under Strossmayer and Racki, the Academy became an eminent institution of leaming which collaborated with well-established European academies. Strossmayer called the Academy Yugoslav (meaning 'Southem Slav') because he wanted to promote the development of sciences and culture of all the South Slavic nations, including the Bulgarians. The Academy in Zagreb, however, has always been Croatian in its membership and its activities. Besides, soon after the foundation of the Zagreb Academy, the Serbian and Bulgarian Academies were established, so that the idea that the Academy in Zagreb was an institution which could bring together all the South Slavic nations became impracticable. All the publishing activities of Zagreb's Academy have been primarily and permanently focused on the study of Croatian history, culture, language, and natural heritage.

Franjo Rački, the first president of the Academy, was an excellent organizer of scientific work. He initiated and edited a number of the Academy's edirions and publications. The first issue of the scholarly periodical Rad (Mongraphs)   was published already in 1867. All of the Academy's departments contributed to this periodical until its sixtieth issue in 1882. After that, several departments began to publish their own series of Rad. With 487 volumes published to date, it is the largest series among the Academy's publications.


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Reception rooms in the palace of the Croatian Academy

The first volume of Ljetopis (Annals) was published in 1887, and it soon became one of the regular annual publications of the Academy, as well as its administrative messenger. One hundred and seven volumes of Ljetopis have been published so far. Since the study of Croatian history remained for a long time the main task of the Academy, the number of publications in this field increased considerably. As early as 1868, the Academy came out with the first volume of Monumenta spectantia historium Salvorum Meridionalium, a series which publishes larger excerpts from archival documents (53 volumes have appeared to date). Starine (Antiquities), a series consisting mainly of fragmentary archival materials dealing with Croatian political and literary history, was first published in 1869. These main editions were divided into series, such as Monumenta Ragusina, Spomenici Hrvatske krajine (Documents of the Croatian Frontier-Zone), and Scriptores, selected works of early Croatian historians. Statutes of Dalmatian towns, feudal laws and early acts written in Croatian have been published in the series Monumenta historico-iuridica (13 volumes). Zbornik za narodni život i običaje Južnih Slavena (Collection on the Folk Life and Customs of the Southem Slavs) was first published in 1896., and 54 volumes have been published so far.

 

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The Baška Stono Tablet, one of the earliest stone inscriptions in the Croatian language written in the Glagolitic script, late 11th century, kept at the atrium of the Academy

Bishop Strossmayer initiated the constmction of the Academy Palace on Zrinjevac, where he wanted to situate his gallery of paintings as well. The constmction of the neo-Renaissance palace in Florentine style, as had been Strossmayer's wish, began in August 1877, and it  was completed in the summer of 1880. A quarter of the sum which was necessary to build the palace was donated by Strossmayer. Four years later, the Academy received the greatest of its patron's donations: a collection of 256 works of art, mostly paintings (235) belonging to various Italian schools. The Strossrrvayer Gallery of Old Masters was opened in the Palace of the Academy on 9 No- vember 1884 in the presence of Strossmayer himself.

HAZU - Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb 2004. 
updated 
11/23/04