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Exhibition «From ISTRA BENZ to ISTRABENZ: 1948–1996«

In its dislocated unit at Monfort, a former salt warehouse, the Maritime Museum - Museo del mare "Sergej Mašera" Piran - Pirano hosts an exhibition 
«From ISTRA BENZ to ISTRABENZ: 1948–1996«.


The exhibition is on display from 30 April to June 13th, 2022.


The principal of the project is the Provincial Archives Koper; while the author of the exhibition as well as the editor of the publication carrying the same name is Dr Jedert Vodopivec Tomažič with her colleagues and the people involved in the events that took place in those years.


As Istrabenz was one of the most high-ranking companies in the Primorska region, and later also wider in Slovenia as a whole, we believed that the company and its former employees, who helped create and build it, deserved a presentation with an exhibition and a publication on top of it all.


Considering the fact that this company operated within the Municipality of Piran, we decided that after its presentation at Mala Loža in Koper and at the Provincial Archives of Koper within the City Library in Izola, the exhibition should also be set up at the Maritime Museum Sergej Mašera in Piran.



With the project From ISTRA BENZ to ISTRABENZ: 1948-1996, we wish to present the company’s activities and economic operations in the period when socially owned: from its founding in 1948 to the accomplishment of its ownership transformation in 1996, as the material created after the company's registration with the Court Register as private property is no longer within the competence of public archives.


Considering the company's archives have not survived in full and have not been assumed by the competent archives, the exhibition and publication encompasses the historical background, testimonies of former employees and all of the available surviving written, photographic, audio-visual and other archival material relating to Istrabenz during this period.


The exhibition was conceived chronologically. On the grounds of the collected photographic material, the periods of the company’s creation and development, its employees and a short chronology of Istrabenz are presented. The exhibition at the former Monfort salt warehouse is supplemented by material concerning Angel Gruden, the first director of Istrabenz (1948-1951). It was acquired by us in the period after the exhibition was held at the Koper Provincial Archives and is this time on public display for the very first time.


The publication, which contains 232 pages, is conceived differently than the exhibition. In the introductory part,  Nada Čibej, MSc, Director of the Provincial Archives of Koper (PAK), presents the legislative framework for dealing with archival material in the economic sphere and the field of personnel and spatial problems of archives including the Koper Provincial Archives and the reasons why the Koper Provincial Archives are not in possession of Istrabenz’s Archives; Dr Jedert Vodopivec Tomažič, the editor of the publication, sheds lustre upon the background of the creation of this project and upon the search for archival sources.

In the second part, three distinguished Slovenian historians, Ph.D, Dr Deborah Rogoznica, Ph.D. Dr Nadja Terčon, and Ph.D, Dr Aleksander Lorenčič, who are devoted to economic issues in their research work, present on the basis of their long-time archival material research on the development of the economy in the Slovenian coastal area, which was greatly dependent on the new demarcation between Yugoslavia and Italy immediately after World War II.
In the third, testimonial part, Ivan Simčič, curator - historian in the Koper Regional Museum, prepared and edited the testimonies given by former Istrabenz employees or their relatives.

In the last, documentary part, all four of Istrabenz’s directors are presented: Angelo Gruden (1948–1951), Anton Vodopivec (1951–1974), Jordan Klabjan (1984–1988), and Janko Kosmina (1974–1984, 1988–1996). ). There follows an overview of TV articles referring to Istrabenz from the beginning of TV Slovenia in 1958 to 1996. At the end, an even longer chronology of Istrabenz Koper from its founding in 1948 to the end of privatization in 1996 is presented.

The publication can be purchased in the Maritime museum Piran, the exhibition hall at Monfort, and in the Koper Provincial Archives.