The Makarska Malacological Museum is one of the most valuable cultural institutions, both in the city of Makarska and the entire country. The Malacological Museum of the Franciscan Monastery was founded in 1963 by Dr. Fra. Jure Radić with an attractive exhibition of shellfish from the Adriatic and the entire world. In addition to a valuable and rich seashell collection, Dr. fra Jure Radić also preserved a valuable herbarium of plants from the Biokovo mountain as well as smaller palaeontological collections. The founder of the museum was the son of a sailor, who since childhood gazed at the sea and its gifts, especially shells along the coast and islands of Croatia, as well as the world. The majority of the museum’s holdings in the exhibition area are shells of sea snails, shellfish and several specimens from other classes of molluscs, as well as corals and a small number of other marine species. In addition to shellfish from our sea, the exhibition includes shells from other seas and oceans: Hawaii, Oceania, California, China, Japan, the Caribbean, Australia, Madagascar, Tanzania, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Red Sea, Antarctica and the Coral Barrier.
The museum also houses a fossil collection that was created at the same time as the collection of recent shells. The collection of fossils includes fossils of ammonites, rudists, molluscs – snails, shellfish, sea urchins, corals and algae. Most of them are from Central Dalmatia. The Museum is surrounded by a collection of living indigenous plants from the Biokovo area. The collection is a small reflection of the floral image of this area throughout all twelve months of the year. It creates a visual mood and breath of fragrance and aroma. The Institute “Planina i more” (Mountain and Sea) monitors the phenology and ecological factors of some species, especially rare and endemic plant taxa. Along with the educational message, the collection is an incentive to love and preserve plant species in the area, and how to grow indigenous plants without many material resources, which is cheaper than foreign, which are both expensive and their maintenance requires a lot of effort (e.g. growing English grass in the warm and dry Mediterranean).
Visitors to the museum range from children to centenarians; they have different knowledge and interests and come from different meridians and parallels. They admire the building skills of molluscs and the design of their shells, colours, shapes, inspired names given to them by scientists, geographical distribution, application of shells in everyday life: as food, jewellery, money, oil lamps, art patterns, mother of pearl, pearls… The shapes, structures and the colours of shells, and the fragrances and colours of indigenous plants delight almost all visitors and encourage them to get to know, love and preserve nature and the environment. The museum was opened to the public on 30 April 1963 in the old part of the Franciscan monastery, which is a protected cultural monument. Although it contains more than 3,000 specimens of exhibited shells, in the museum you can see not only the shells of the Adriatic Sea, but also many species from tropical and subtropical seas, which also have the most attractive colours and shapes among all the shells.