Split … Froggyland: the strangest, most bizarre exhibition I have ever seen in my life

I have seen some strange things on my travels, but Froggyland in the Croatian city of Split has got to be the strangest and certainly the most bizarre to date. Hungarian taxidermist Ferenc Mere spent ten years of his life from 1910 to 1920 stuffing and preserving over five hundred common garden frogs before arranging them to re-enact various human activities. The Gunther von Hagens of the amphibian world stuffed these frogs (that presumably and hopefully were dead beforehand) in such a way that all their internal organs and body parts, apart from their eyes (replaced with glass ones), remained intact.

I giggled and laughed my way around the small exhibition in a disused cinema just off Marmontova, but I have to admit I left it in a state of bewilderment, fear and confusion. I had to go for a stiff (no pun intended) drink afterwards to calm my nerves, and I think the sight of some of those frogs will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I apologise in advance for the woefully bad froggy puns that follow.

Even now, I still can't believe it

Even now, I still can’t believe it

Labelled as 'The famous Buffalo Circus'

Labelled as ‘The famous Buffalo Circus’

Circus activities including tight-rope walking, sword-throwing, wearing a boot over one's snout ...

Circus activities including tight-rope walking, sword-throwing, wearing a boot over one’s snout …

... weight-lifting and the bed-of-nails

… weight-lifting and the bed-of-nails

At the swimming pool. Going by the figures in the 'water', Mere clearly didn't keep all his frogs in one piece

At the swimming pool. Going by the figures in the ‘water’, Mere clearly didn’t keep all his frogs in one piece

Water-rafting

Water-rafting

Rowing

Rowing

Card games, no doubt playing 'Go Frog' - the amphibian version of 'Go Fish'

Card games, no doubt playing ‘Go Frog’ – the amphibian version of ‘Go Fish’

Re-enacting that famous scene from the classic movie Dirty Dancing where Jennifer Grey and Patrick Spawnsey try to balance and dance on a log

Re-enacting that famous scene from the classic movie Dirty Dancing where Jennifer Grey and Patrick Spawnsey try to balance and dance on a log

Canoeing whilst being serenaded by a sitar player

Canoeing whilst being serenaded by a sitar player

A late night party. Those frogs really know how to have a good time ...

A late night party. Those frogs really know how to have a good time …

... but clearly they don't know when it's time to stop drinking and go home

… but clearly they don’t know when it’s time to stop drinking and go home

Athletics (ahhh ... reminds me of London 2012)

Athletics (ahhh … reminds me of London 2012)

A fantasy frogball team including Frogin van Persie, David Frogham, Christiano Frognaldo, Froggie Suaris ... I could go on

A fantasy frogball team including Frogin van Persie, David Frogham, Christiano Frognaldo, Froggie Suaris … I could go on

Basketball featuring LeSpawn James

Basketball featuring LeSpawn James

Playing tennis

Playing tennis

Is that Novak Croakavic?

Is that Novak Croakavic?

And lastly, my favourite arrangement: three frogs smoking whilst watching tennis. The one on the left looks remarkably like UKIP leader Nigel Farage ... or should that be Nigel Frogage?

And lastly, my favourite arrangement: three frogs smoking whilst watching tennis. The one on the left looks remarkably like UKIP leader Nigel Farage … or should that be Nigel Frogage?

The attention to detail is amazing, but why Mere was compelled to do this remains a mystery. The exhibition had only a week left to run when I visited it in September 2014, and at the time there were no plans to exhibit it anywhere else. But, I’m sure it will pop up again somewhere else in the foreseeable future, and if Paul McCartney ever feels the need to re-release “We All Stand Together” with an up-to-date music video, he could certainly make good use of the models from Froggyland.

For more information on the collection and where it might be exhibited next, go to the official Froggyland website here.

Split Froggyland front

TLT x


According to the museum, this is a merman's penis caught in an Icelandic fishing net in 1879

Trying not to dismiss the Icelandic Phallological (penis) Museum as a load of old balls


This entry was posted in Croatia, Split. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *