The Public Institute Ribnica Handicraft Centre
The Public Institute Ribnica Handicraft Centre brings together three well-established organizations – the Museum of Ribnica, the Miklova Hiša Gallery and the Museum Shop – as well as a new area, which was likewise developed from the long-standing tradition of Ribnica and its surrounding area: handicrafts (Handicrafts Section). The range of products and services offered by the Institute is extensive and diverse and suitable for different target groups, for both pre-school and school groups, as well as other visitors, researchers, curious individuals and creators.
The Institute’s Vision and Mission
The vision of the Ribnica Handicraft Centre is to become a dynamic woodenware and pottery centre, which will be part of a network of regional handicraft centres in Slovenia and as such comparable to other similar handicraft centres elsewhere in the world.
The mission of the Ribnica Handicraft Centre is continuous care for the overall preservation and development of cultural heritage and its integration with modern areas of creation; collection, protection, documentation and research of cultural heritage with the aim of providing the public with information about its significance in the past, present and future; building connections between cultural activities and tourism, as well as other industries; education and training; promotion of the cottage industry, the artisanal handicrafts, as well as contemporary artistic creativity.
Our aim is to make it possible for our visitors to identify the cultural identity of this area and help the local people preserve it. Our presence makes us an integral part of the contemporary culture-related events and activities in Ribnica.
The Handicrafts Section within the Ribnica Handicraft Centre
The cottage industries that the Valley of Ribnica is best known for are woodenware making and pottery, which boast a tradition of several hundred years. The making of »Ribnica Woodenware« is one of the oldest and at the same time a very unique cottage industry. The local people being very close to nature, the abundance of forests and people’s resourcefulness have all contributed to the emergence and development of the cottage industry as it is known today.
Simple domestic products were no longer used in local people’s homes only and were brought into the world after the Austrian Emperor Friderick III had granted the inhabitants of the Kočevsko region and the Valley of Ribnica the so-called Peddlar’s patent, whereby people were given the right to free trade in these domestic products. The emperor granted this privilege in order to provide the people who were not so well off with an additional source of income.
The people of Ribnica and the area surrounding it took advantage of this privilege more than anyone else and took the woodenware and the pottery into the wide world.
The wooden ware of Ribnica is constantly adapted to the market, new technologies are introduced and new products are developed, all of which results in products that are really useful and of high quality; tradition however remains an important part of it and the people of Ribnica are proud to share their ware with the world. To preserve the tradition of woodenware making and to make it more recognizable in the market, the woodenware-making region in 2004 acquired a geographical designation with the name »Woodenware of Ribnica«, whereby the artisans and their products were protected. The artisans have remained active in all eleven woodenware-making branches up to the present day: side-rim making, bottom making, sieve making, vessel making, tool making, wickerwork, spoon making, hand joinery, wood turning, toothpick making and souvenir making.
Pottery is predominantly made in the south of Ribnica Valley, in the villages of Prigorica and Dolenja vas, in the so-called ‘Lončarija’, the pottery-making area. The best-known pottery product is the Ribnica whistle, also humorously described as »the horse whose bottom whistles«.
Available products, services, exhibitions and events:
Demonstrations of individual woodenware and pottery-making processes are available at the Ribnica Handicraft Centre Public Institute, where local artisans take visitors through the captivating processes of creating wooden products. Another unforgettable experience is available for visitors: by prior arrangement they can have a go at making one of the cottage industry products themselves, under the supervision of a mentor, one of the artisans.
Visitors can also use the opportunity to be taken to craftspersons’ homes, where they will learn about the artisans’ skills, have a look around their workshops and get to know their proverbial wit, typical of this region.
Since 2011, a wickerwork and pottery school has been one of the regular educational programmes organized as part of the Ribnica Handicraft Centre. The programme, as part of which new generations of wickerwork masters and potters are trained, is divided into three years and is taught by local craftsmen, craftsmen from other parts of Slovenia and industrial designers.
At the Handicraft Centre, visitors can also have a look at the exhibition Keeping in Step with the Time. The exhibition is divided into eleven different sections and presents the contemporary woodenware production, which is based on the geographical indication ‘Ribnica Woodenware’. With this exhibition the Ribnica Handicraft Centre aims to promote the making of products of high-quality and modern design, as well as strengthen product marketing and promote the makers. Visitors can also have a look at the masterpieces made of carved wood (wooden hats, string instruments etc.) and traditional regional pottery products and contemporary ceramics. Since this is not a conventional museum presentation, visitors are guided through the exhibition by the witty comments. The exhibition is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue available in English, German and Italian.→ PDF Catalogue
Both pottery and woodenware products are also available at the museum shop of the Handicraft Centre.
Museum of Ribnica
The Mission of Museum of Ribnica
Museum of Ribnica records the collective memory and preserves the cultural heritage of the Ribnica Valley and its wider hinterland: it collects and documents, researches and presents, protects and preserves the material, social and intangible heritage, whereby it aids in identifying the identity of local population. The museum is some sort of identity card of the local people and an integral part of the mosaic of the nation’s independence and originality.
The exhibition space of the Museum of Ribnica is housed on the premises of the Ribnica Handicraft Centre and at the Ribnica Castle, which is in its immediate vicinity. The Ribnica Castle was built in approximately 1080. Several different owners and castle managers followed one another throughout the history of the castle, all of whom put their stamp on it. The present-day castle complex was renovated in years 1958-61 and is nowadays predominantly used as a venue for cultural events. The castle houses the exhibition area of the Museum of Ribnica, where some permanent exhibitions are hosted: Woodenware and Pottery, Ribnica – the Greatness of Being Small and The Bloody Fight against the Witchcraft. The castle complex also houses the Park of Culture Professionals, dedicated to the memory of the people who contributed to the intellectual development of Ribnica and the progress of Slovenia as a whole, as well as forma viva, a collection of sculptures created by renowned Slovene sculptors in the 1980s. Within the castle complex, there is also an open air theatre and a wedding hall.
Permanent exhibition IN Ribnica castle: Bloody Fight against Witchcraft
One of the last witch trials in Slovenia was held in Ribnica, a fact proven by the preserved written witch trial record, which is kept at The Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. The exhibition is housed in the Ribnica Castle tower, a venue that makes the exhibition all the more interesting. It is divided into three sections: witch trails in Europe and in the area of what is now Slovenia with a focus on the Ribnica witch trial, torture – an important part of witch trials, as well as medicinal herbs and witchcraft spells. Also exhibited are replicas of torture devices, such as a witch chair, a device for breaking thumbs etc, and a copy of the original written record of the 1701 Ribnica witch trial.
Witch trials are one of the greatest tragedies in European history. Despite numerous studies no definite explanation for this phenomenon has been provided to date. The idea of ‘evil’ that needs to be eradicated appears time and again and is in no way limited to the time covered by the exhibition.
The exhibition leaflet is available in English.
Permanent exhibition IN Ribnica Handicraft Centre: WOODENWARE & POTTERY
The cottage industry of Ribnica boasts a centuries-old tradition and is closely connected with nature. It is based on two main factors: the abundance of forests and areas with clay deposits. The Lož fair document dating back to the 14th century contains the first mention of ‘Ribnica woodenware’, the name used to refer to wooden products that Ribnica peddlers would later sell around the world. The imperial patent by the Emperor Frederick III in 1492 resulted in the boom of woodenware trading. In memory of this important imperial permit, the official holiday of the Municipality of Ribnica is celebrated annually on 23 October.
Woodenware is divided into eleven branches: side-rim making, bottom making, sieve making, vessel making, tool making, wickerwork, spoon making, hand joinery, wood turning, toothpick making and souvenir making.
Each activity is related to a particular house, a particular village and a certain type of wood. In addition to woodenware making the people of Ribnica would also earn their living by making pottery. Pottery was made in the south of the Ribnica Valley, where clay was found. The most famous pottery product of Ribnica was a toy – a horse-shaped whistle.
The exhibition is accompanied by the exhibition catalogue in English.
Miklova hiša Gallery
In 1972, Ribnica obtained the first space set up especially for art exhibitions under the auspices of the Museum of Ribnica. The exhibition space was located on the premises of the Ribnica Castle and was named Petek’ Gallery after the photographer Jože Petek, a native of Ribnica. The plan for the gallery was designed by the architect Marjan Loboda. However, as it was better adapted to the museum than to fine art standards the space was in 1983 rearranged. During this time, a more or less regular programme of exhibitions was in progress under the auspices of the Museum of Ribnica.
Under the auspices of the Ribnica Festival and at the initiative of painter Jože Centa, a native of Ribnica, annual fine art meetings were started in 1979. Invited artists, art experts and the Ribnica elite would thus meet every year up until 1991, which brought many a positive solution for the development of Ribnica, in particular, the annual exhibition of artworks created in Ribnica and a new Ribnica fine art collection. In 1988, almost the entire gallery programme was moved from Petek’s Gallery to the city centre – to Mikl Family’s house and was named the Miklova Hiša Gallery. A plan was starting to be devised for an extensive renovation of the house and its interior, where the Gallery exhibition space has now been housed since 1991.
The Miklova Hiša Gallery boasts more than twenty years of continuous exhibition-related activities. Most of the staged exhibitions are devoted to the contemporary Slovenian fine art production. The Gallery houses two art collections:
– The Ribnica Art Collection consists of the key works of art from the second half of the 1980s and the early 1990s. It was presented to the wider Slovenian public at a major exhibition in the upper-floor area of the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana in 1992 and in parts later at annual exhibitions in the home gallery.
– The Didactic Art Collection was created in collaboration with the Slovenian Association of Fine Arts Societies (SAFAS) and aims to present all the techniques and styles, as well as the key authors in the field of Slovenian artistic creation. Individual segments of the collection have been presented in Ribnica on a number occasions, however, due to lack of space it has yet to be presented as a permanent exhibition.
During a visit to Ribnica, you can see the current Gallery exhibition.
Since 2008, a regular educational programme – the Fine Arts Education Centre Ribnica (Likovno izobraževalni center Ribnica – LICE) has been operating as part of the Miklova Hiša Gallery. It provides training opportunities for all fine art lovers. It is held at the Ribnica Handicraft Centre, the educational programme is divided into four years and is taught by sculptors and painters – bachelors of fine arts.
The Museum Shop Ribnica presents the identity of Ribnica through the sale of handicraft products (woodenware and pottery) in a brick-and-mortar shop at the Ribnica Handicraft Centre. Its basic premise is to make sure all available products are genuine and of high quality and that each of them represents a fragment of the common features of the environment that buyers take home.
Since March 2011, products that are related to the activities organized within the institute (Museum of Ribnica, Gallery, Handicrafts Section, temporary exhibitions) have also been available in the Museum Shop. Vrh obrazca Dno obrazca
The online shop of the Ribnica Handicraft Centre gives you the opportunity to buy woodenware and pottery products from the comfort of your home. In addition to traditional woodenware and pottery products, you can also choose from a range of products made by designers who are trying their best to make wood and woodenware part of both our present and future.