Krapina Neanderthals site at the Hušnjakovo locality is the first paleontological natural monument in Croatia and is one of the most significant paleoanthropological localities worldwide. Its exceptional abundance of findings and a discovery of the largest habitat of Neanderthal prehistoric people, and the work of geologist and palaeontologist Dragutin Gorjanović Kramberger, make it an unparalleled source of contemporary scientific information even today. The State Institute for Protection of Natural Rarities declared “the semi-cave Hušnjakovo near Krapina and the surroundings of the cave” a protected natural rarity in 1948. In 1969, the Museum of Evolution was founded in the former Kneipp Sanitarium building in Krapina. The permanent exhibition was conceptualised by the late Mirko Malez, member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. In the 1960s, he also began detailed stratigraphic analysis of the site and the designation of cultural and faunal remains in Krapina. During that period the trails were marked, fences and benches were put in place, and for the first time reconstructions of Neanderthals and animals were exhibited to public. The first reconstructions, created by the late sculptor Stanko Tucaković according to instructions of M. Malez, can still be seen at the site. Engineer Ana Töpfer designed the so-called “Neanderthal park”, and she is also responsible for the revitalisation of the Hušnjakovo locality.
Children visiting the old museum
The Museum of Evolution was opened to public in September 1971. Its holdings contained geological, paleontological and archaeological collections, while the concept of the permanent exhibition focused on rocks and minerals of Croatian Zagorje, the evolution of life on Earth and the evolution of man with special emphasis on the Krapina Neanderthals. The site was presented with the help of casts of Neanderthals’ bones, a collection faunistic fossils, stone tools and documents about the discovery. At the time of founding, the Museum of Evolution was part of the Forest Improvement Fund of the municipality of Krapina, and in 1971 it was transferred to the Zagreb Forestry Estate. In 1977 the organisation “Krapina Early Man’s Site” was founded, and was made part of the Centre for Culture, Arts and Information in Krapina in 1988. Only in 1993 did the Museum become property of the Republic of Croatia. The construction of the new Krapina Neanderthal Museum lasted 11 years, and the Museum opened its doors to the public on February 27, 2010.