Travel Back In Time At The Brilliant Zagreb 80s Museum

Zagreb 80s Museum

Ah, the 1980s. We both grew up during this decade of Cold War tension, the Sony Walkman, mullets and shoulder pads, and couldn’t wait to visit the Zagreb 80s Museum. We were in town for the Zagreb Christmas Markets, and were very keen to take this nostalgic trip back in time.

We were also keen to show our 5-year-old son the distant universe in which we both grew up, albeit at opposite ends of the planet. The 80s Museum Zagreb seemed ideal for our little fellow as he loves to pick up and touch exhibits. Here he could touch all the different items on display and play with whatever interested him to his heart’s content. It seemed to be one of the best things to do in Zagreb with kids, and he was very excited about going beforehand.

The Museum is dedicated to showing life in Yugoslavia in the 1980s, and we can’t think of another museum in the world quite like it. It’s one of several Zagreb museums to have opened since we last visited early in the millennium. Other museums and exhibitions have sections or displays on the 1980s, but this IS the 80s, the full, immersive experience. Would we laugh at the terrible hair and dress sense? Or would we come away having recurring dreams of bad brown wallpaper patterns in our sleep? Only one way to find out…

How Is The Zagreb 80s Museum Laid Out?

Image of a disco light ball at the Zagreb 80s Museum
Disco! Living Room Style!
Image of a typical 80s bedroom in the Zagreb 80s Museum
The 80s down to the last detail, includin g the pyjamas

The Museum fills one floor of an old townhouse in the Gornji Grad (Old Town) district of Zagreb. It is set out like a large apartment, with a living room, kitchen, bedroom and games room. The reception area is in the middle, complete with a bright yellow 1980s Zastava – also known as Yugo – car welcoming you back to the 80s.

Were the 1980s Different In Yugoslavia To The West?

Image of a television at the Zagreb 80s Museum
The TV, the wallpaper – we all lived through it

If this exhibition is anything to go by, yes – but not as much as you might think. Yugoslavia was a Communist state, but not aligned with the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. So it was a one-party state (led by Croatian-born Josip Broz Tito for much of the decade) but was more open to the West (especially allowing tourists in) than many of its neighbours in central and eastern Europe.

I grew up in Wales in the UK and Faye grew up in New South Wales, Australia, and while there we commented that there are so many similarities. We all had the terrible décor, and our parents had all the naff clothes, including the garish patterned ties. We all had similar gadgets, our kitchen wall units were pretty much the same the world over.

You Can Touch Everything?

Image of child talking on old telephone at Zagreb 80s Museum
Hello? Operator?
Image of a cassette player at the Zagreb 80s Museum
Dad, what’s a cassette?

Absolutely. This is where this Zagreb museum really stands out. Within ten minutes of arriving, our son had tried on several fake fur hats, spoken on an old plastic telephone, watched an ancient cathode ray TV set and played his first ever LP on a vintage record player. He loved every moment of it, and so did we.

Image of a tie and jacket Zagreb 80s Museum
That tie – fingers crossed there won’t be a revival

We also had plenty of fun emptying the kitchen cupboards preparing imaginary pancakes, lying in the brilliantly styled bedroom and looking at the extremely basic computer games just like the ones we used to play back in the 80s. The fact that he could pick things up andtry them out made it come to life much more.

Are There Any Other Similar Museums in Europe?

Image of woman and her son wearing fake fur hats at the Zagreb 80s Museum
Fake fur hats to keep out the cold Siberian winds

There are none we have encountered where you can pick up every exhibit.  The DDR Museum in Berlin covers some similar ground, but apart from being able to take a simulated Trabant drive, you can’t touch many other items on display.

Where Is The 80s Museum In Zagreb?

Image of food products in a kitchen in the Zagreb 80s Museum
Inside a Yugoslavian kitchen…

Radiceva 34, just across the street from the Kamenita Vrata, the stone gate with a small Roman Catholic altar and shrine at the entrance to the old tpwn.

Opening hours

Image of a vintage ladies hairdryer at the Zagreb 80s Museum
Anyone seen me curlers?

These and ticket prices are displayed on the 80s Museum website – scroll down to the bottom of the page.

How Much Are Tickets?

40 kuna – €5.20 – per adult

30 kuna – €3.90 – for seniors and students

25 kuna – €3.30 – per child aged 3-13

90 kuna – €12.00 – per family

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David Angel
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.