Visit to Lipikum - interactive center of Lipica

Lipizzan Museum Lipikum is a centre of cultural and tourist offer of the Lipica Stud Farm. It is designed in accordance with modern museological principles and enables visitors to obtain desired information by themselves by means of different interactions. The content connected in any way with the rich history of the stud farm and the Lipizzan horse is available for visitors in the museum.

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“Designing an exhibition is like telling a story in space.”
Sanja Jurca Avci

The museum is located in the historic core of Lipica. It is designed as a museum of experience. It narrates the story of the Lipica Stud Farm and Lipizzan horses by colour, projections, sound, interaction and even arhitectual elements. Visitors discover the story step by step and are actively included into it.

The Lipikum Museum was created as a museum of experience. Apart from objects, the story of the Lipica Stud Farm and Lipizzan horses is also told through colours, projections, sounds, interactions and even architectural elements. Visitors will uncover the story, layer by layer, participating in it. Lipikum thus represents a new type of museum in Slovenia for the exhibition’s tale does not leave visitors outside, but draws them inside.

Entrance area

The small entrance area will first astound you with its dark walls. The colour of the perimeter walls begins telling the story, beginning with the colour of the Lipizzan horse – born almost black and later slowly becoming grey by the age of seven, and eventually turning almost white. The visit to the museum thus begins in a dark almost black area and ends in a bright almost white area. Upon entering we will hear the sound of hooves tramping and see rotating wooden cylinders on the walls, which are used at the Lipica Stud Farm in areas where large number of horses are let out through a narrow area to prevent them from getting hurt. For a moment, we too become horses which have been let out through the narrow corridor. A logo appears in front of us presenting the Lipikum Museum and directing us towards the tramping sounds.

Lipizzans galloping

Behind the wall we will see Lipizzan horses galloping towards us. In the museum we will experience what we could not in reality. We feel their strength, the connection of the herd, the connection between nature and their beauty. The sound completes the experience – a deafening tramp which accompanies the galloping of these beautiful animals. Here we quickly embrace the main message of the exhibition: “Lipizzan horses have been bred here at the Lipica Stud Farm for centuries through the planned cross-breeding of indigenous Karst breeds and other breeds." We now enter a part of the exhibition dedicated to the horse as an animal species.

THE LIPIZZAN - what a wonderful horse

The space displaying three skeletons denotes the scientific nature of this space – the focus being on the Lipizzan and horses in general.

Teeth of the ancestors of Lipizzans can be found in the smallest showcase in the museum.  Fossil remains of teeth were found in the vicinity of Lipica in Črni Kal, proving that the ancestors of the heavy Karst horse grazed here in ancient times.

Who are ancestors of the contemporary horse? We can examine two ancestors or their skeletal reconstructions in detail. The older, smaller one is especially surprising. Climbing the (imaginary) bushes like a medium-size dog, it hardly resembles the large, proud horses we know today. The skeletons of the ancestors can be compared against a real skeleton of a Lipizzan teaching us a bit about the body parts of the horse and other interesting facts.

Illustrations and photos depicting horse moods and senses can be found on the nearby wall.  We will put on horse’s ears and try to imitate a horse’s mood in front of a mirror. By pushing the button, we will hear an angry or happy horse neighing.

The exhibition element – a rack will teach us whether Lipizzan horses are truly white and why this is so. We will discover what horses of other colours are called and stroke their hair on the placard.

Which animal species are horses classified into? Horses are divided into even-toed and odd-toed. Our youngest visitors can learn this by means of a puzzle. Wild horses are presented on the adjacent rack, for although horses are now domesticated, this was not always true in the past.

The upper level of the museum area, where the exhibition continues, presents the next chapter of the story of the exhibition – the coexistence of man and horse. A gallery wall dividing the area displays a strong contrast in colour and represents the background of a rich exhibition of artistic paintings of Lipica and Lipizzans by the painter Johann Georg de Hamilton.

In Good and Bad

The wall with the artistic paintings is intentionally almost too full. The images of Lipizzans performing caprioles and other elements and a large painting of the Lipica Stud Farm in the centre on the gallery wall complete the presentation of paintings of famous painters in the immediate vicinity, opening up a chapter which depicts horses in art throughout history. A special drawing surface invites our youngest visitors to try their hand at being an artist.

Horses have long stirred the human’s imagination.  In antiquity horses often appeared in a variety of surprising images in mythology. A large wall painting depicts selected fairytale and/or semi-divine beings spinning to the top, up to the unicorn. In the middle, children can admire themselves in the mirror and become Centaurs – they see themselves from the waist upwards and a fairy-tale horse from the waist downwards.  From the corner of our eyes we will glimpse something appearing and disappearing below the ceiling – of course, it’s Pegasus the winged horse which can fly! This theme is enriched with original ambient music.

The connection between the horse and man is not only ethereal but also an everyday, working and full-blooded connection. There are so many things that we could not even imagine doing without the help of the horse! Agriculture, travelling, warfare, hunting, sport, etc. Many professions developed over time due to man’s connection with the horse.  Unfortunately, some of them are becoming obsolete. Traditional professions, which are preserved and still required at the Lipica Stud Farm, can be seen in the short films on the touch screen.  A rare specimen, a veterinary briefcase with interesting tools used for the Lipizzans during their period of exile can be found in the showcase.

And the children? They can comb the little plush horse just like the ostlers in the film.

A colourful area, full of paintings is lined with an interesting glass wall with glowing letters on one side. This restricts entrance to the area presenting the next chapter in the exhibition’s story – the Lipica Stud Farm.

Lipica – the Cradle of Lipizzan horses

We enter an area lined with two glass barriers and a lowered ceiling. This symbolises the institution, the Lipica Stud Farm. We see horizontal strips with exhibition texts and pictorial material, which we were acquainted with in previous areas, and are especially drawn to the wall with glowing letters and placards arranged in a circle

The letters on the illuminated wall represent the names of the six main lines of Lipizzan horses. Beautiful names are carefully formed in an attractive element of the area enabling interesting partial views from both sides of the wall. A touch screen is located in front of the wall inviting visitors to deal with the difficult task of naming the ancestor of two Lipizzan horses in accordance with specified rules. A multimedia attraction – the interactive table can be found in the ascetically designed table element giving visitors insight into the rich history of the Lipica Stud Farm and introducing them to the history of Slovenia and Europe.

Here we will discover how, when and why the Lipica Stud Farm was formed. A short cartoon depicts historical events of the maelstroms of war due to which the horses were moved to different places several times. The presentation is supplemented with a showcase of horse equipment found in the area of Lipica and, for comparison, also several other items found in other areas of Slovenia. We will discover how horses are branded in Lipica and elsewhere. Adults and children will be able to try their hand at branding. A copy of the stud book in the showcase depicts the main activity of the Lipica Stud Farm – horse breeding. A comparison between the human and horse genome is presented on the illuminated background.

A rack in the centre of the area addresses us with the famous saying that a horse’s age can be ascertained from its teeth. Adults and children can view specimens of horse’s teeth and touch them through the fabric. 

A circle in the centre of the area with six large inserted rotating placards depicts the life circle of horses at the Lipica Stud Farm. The life periods are presented through large artistic photos and explained in detail through texts and pictures. Children can have fun on the rotating cylinder putting three various periods of horse’s growth together.

Films on the large screen on the adjacent wall present the life of the Lipizzan at the Lipica Stud Farm in detail.

Two large rotating placards with excerpts of photos and explanations on the other wall by the circle present the typical day of stallions at the Lipica Stud Farm which differs considerably from that of mares and foals. The detailed presentation “24 hours” explains the fixed schedule of life of both at the Lipica Stud Farm.

A full-size model of a horse enables visitors to experience what it is like to sit in the saddle of a Lipizzan horse. To make the experience of “the rider” as perfect as possible, we will put on a riding hat and check for correct posture in the mirror. The game “Trainer and horse” in this area is intended for our youngest visitors.

Lipizzans also compete. A showcase with a dummy in the uniform of a dressage rider and a large number of trophies won by Alojz Lah at international competitions remind us of this fact.  Informative texts explain how the work of the rider and difficult schooling of horses makes such success possible. Schooling for performances and competitions is presented in detail in films on the touch-screen. All phases of the trot – a horse’s running method can be seen on the rotating cylinder, the stroboscope

All this time we have been curious as to what awaits us in the last and brightest area of the museum – through the glass wall we see something interesting with changing light and sound.

From the native Karst into the wider world

From the native Karst into the wider world 

We will enter a white area with a spatial projection and become a part of it. Around us, on the walls and on the ground, the seasons in the Karst region are changing, birds are singing, a thunderstorm can be heard and the Bora wind is blowing. In the central portion of the wall we see Lipizzaners a part of the nature, peaceful, enjoying themselves, drinking water or rolling on the grass. We become aware of the environment in which the Lipizzans were born, the environment which with its special features made the Lipizzan become what it is.

The estate of the Lipica Stud Farm is important both due to its natural features as well as its cultural heritage attribute. Some architectural and landscape characteristics (e.g. avenues) and especially the fact that the estate has remained unchanged for centuries bear witness to the great cultural significance of Lipica for Slovenia as well as the broader surroundings. It is up to us if we will be able to preserve this heritage and develop it. The relief map of the world shows the locations of stud farms breeding Lipizzan horses today. Reasons for the establishment of these stud farms are variegated and interesting. The largest number is located in Europe in relatively close proximity to Lipica while others can even be found in Australia and the Republic of South Africa.  Although Lipica is the cradle of the Lipizzan horse, it is far from being the only estate breeding such horses today.

Before leaving the museum, sit on a bench in the middle of the area for a moment and enjoy the peace. In the meantime, children can play a game on the bench moving around the world with Lipizzan figures. If you would like to find out more abut a certain topic, you can use the touch-screen which will provide you with all types of information. Here you will also find a source for further development of the contents of the museum, inviting you to contribute your impressions and photos from your visit to the Lipica Stud Farm.

The visit to the museum ends with a quote from a poem by E. Kocbek, reminding us once again what the horse means to us people.

Content interpretation and exhibition design: Sanja Jurca Avci
“Experience Lipica” / Source: Kras magazine, June 2011, issue 110-111

Curators of the exhibition and authors of texts: Taja Vovk van Gaal; Davor Kernel, Goriška Museum Kromberk, Nova Gorica; Nataša Kolenc, Lipica Stud Farm, Irena Marušič, Technical Museum of Slovenia and Staša Tome, Slovenian Museum of Natural History
Technical project managers: Taja Vovk van Gaal, Nataša Kolenc
Graphic design: Dolores Gerbec