The Museum of Smuggling – stories about hiding coffee and jeans live on!

The Museum of Smuggling – stories about hiding coffee and jeans live on!

After the Second World War, the smuggling of goods from the capitalist Italy to Slovenia (back then part of socialist Yugoslavia) was a very common activity …

Shopping tourism

Most Slovenes who lived in the times of post WWII Yugoslavia until 1991 can still recall stories from their so called ‘shopping tourism’ in the neighbouring Italy or Austria.

Generally, buying goods from there and bringing them home was allowed. But you were allowed to carry only a permitted amounts. And if you wanted to carry more, you had to pay the customs duty. Well, unless you found another way.

And that’s where the so called “šverc” came in!

Italy is just a few steps away for people of Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

The ART of hiding goods

The word “šverc” comes from the German word schwarz, which means bootleg. Back in those times (especially between 1960’s – 1990’s) šverc was very common (it could be even said it was widespread among the population here).

From washing powder, coffee, cigarettes, cosmetics, Italian shoes, Levi’s and Rifle jeans, to smaller household appliances and accessories – for many bringing goods even became a lucrative business.

They most often hid the goods under their clothes or in their clothes, in cars or bicycles; anywhere they assumed the customs officer might not look.

Pristava Museum Collection

The goods smuggling days from their neighbours Italy and Austria are long gone for people of Slovenia. But to keep some memories from these times alive, an exhibition was set up at the former offices of the border crossing in Pristava.

Former Pristava border crossing has been given a new look and content.

People would travel in old clothes and came back home in brand new ones! But customs officers found and confiscated hidden goods.

The exhibition Na šverc! Smuggling in the Goriška Region after the Second World War is part of the project Museum on the Border, which includes four locations – four smaller museums along the state border: Museum Collection Kolodvor in the railway station of Nova Gorica, the Military Watchtower in Vrtojba, the Museum Collection Miren housed in the cemetery building in Miren, and Museum Collection Pristava.

The Pristava exhibition also includes an escape room which provides visitors with further information about smuggling as they play the game.

Muzejska zbirka Pristava
Kostanjeviška cesta 32
5000 Nova Gorica

T: +386 (0)5 33 59 811

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