Museum of smuggling takes visitors back to Yugoslavia

Nova Gorica, 15 May - A museum taking visitors back to the times of the former Yugoslavia when people came up with all kinds of ingenious ways to smuggle goods across the border as a way of improving their standard of living will open in a small village near Nova Gorica on Saturday as part of the Museum on the Border project.

A border crossing.
Photo: Andrej Klemenčič/STA
File photo

Goods that were plentiful in Yugoslavia were smuggled into Italy, like eggs, meat, butter, and liquor, whereas Slovenia mostly received "imports" of, among other things, better-quality Italian coffee, as well as pepper, rice and laundry detergent.

What started out as a way of procuring essential items boomed after the mid-1960s as the increased purchasing power of Yugoslavs aided the development of shopping tourism.

Because a special permit was needed to carry certain things across the border, smugglers would stash contraband in or under their clothes, in cars and bicycles, in short, anywhere they thought the customs officer would not check.

Their resourcefulness at a time when smuggling was ever-present is now subject of a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Smuggling in Pristava, curated by Rok Bavčar. The older visitors would have experienced this time first-hand, while younger ones will be able to get a feel for it in the museum's escape room.

The Museum of Smuggling is the latest addition to a project meant to showcase different aspects of life on the Slovenian-Italian border, joining the train station museum in Nova Gorica, the military watchtower in Vrtojba, and the Miren Museum collection housed in the Miren cemetery. All four museums are to be connected with a biking and walking trail.

© STA, 2019