Before we went to Croatia, Gill sent me a link for a must-see tourist attraction in Split’s city centre – Froggyland. A museum/world wonder, Froggyland comprises a collection of over 500 frogs on which a man named Ferenc Mere performed taxidermy and then positioned in scenes representing human activities. As stated on the Froggyland website:
This collection is truly a unique and exceptional example of the art of taxidermy which, together with its technical value, has the artistic value as well, and which intrigues and attracts people and leaves no one indifferent.
I can wholeheartedly agree that I wasn’t left indifferent when Gill was kind, thoughtful and wonderful enough to take me to Froggyland on my birthday. I was overwhelmed.
The whole Froggyland experience is very special – as we arrived we were greeted by a good-looking blonde girl who welcomed us inside and walked us up a flight of carpeted stairs. Half way up, we were invited to touch the lucky frog, whose painted nose was wearing away from eager tourists’ hands.
At the top of the stair was a doorway surrounded by a band of fairy lights and thick, red velvet curtains. It looked like the entrance to either a 1970s bingo hall or a brothel. We were then asked to pay the entrance fee, which Gill generously covered, and then instructed to look closely at each of the 21 display cases as the best parts were in the details. How right she was.
Who knew stuffed frogs could be so interesting? I have always been a lover of frogs and it was so nice to see them having so much fun in such a wide variety of situations. They were drinking at the pub, playing tennis, undertaking household chores, and even performing in a circus – think of a human activity and there was a frog doing it. The museum describes the scenes as representations of our ancestors, so from these frogs I learnt that in most daily activities there was always someone smoking a pipe and someone was drunk.
Two issues that Ferenc would have had to tackle when creating these scenes were the fact that frogs do not have necks and therefore, when standing on their back legs, they tend to stare at the sky. This makes for a very amusing game of tennis. Secondly, a frog’s gender is difficult to determine as boy frogs and girl frogs all look the same and, in my mind, all appear to be male. There were a few scenes where one would jump to the conclusion that the person performing the task should be a woman (e.g. sewing, knitting and any other womanly chore from the 1900s), however the frog didn’t necessarily appear to look like a lady. I would perhaps suggest to Ferenc that more effort into representing the gender of the female frogs (perhaps a skirt or a feminine hat) would add to the displays.
It was pleasing to see that Gill and I hadn’t been the only visitors to Froggyland that day and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Split. Not only is the wood panelled, green carpeted, bingo room airconditioned, the displays are highly entertaining and educational. You will learn a lot from our amphibian friends.