Antun Bauer was born in Vukovar in 1911. He attended elementary school in Vukovar and high school in Osijek. He graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb University, having read history of art and archaeology, in 1935. After taking his degree he spent a long time in Asia Minor, exploring archaeology in the field, and then spent a year at Vienna and Munich universities, writing and defending his dissertation on Roman Lead Sculpting, for which he received his PhD in 1939.
He was a demonstrator at the Archaeology Institute in Zagreb from 1939 to 1942. In 1937 he founded the Plaster Casts Collection (Gipsoteka) of which he was director until 1952. He was elected to the Yugoslav Academy, Fine Arts Department, as scientific fellow, in 1949. A year later, he won the first ever museological prize in the People’s Republic of Croatia. In 1952 he was appointed director of the Croatian Schools Museum, for which he drew up the concept of the permanent display, and in which he arranged many exhibitions.
He founded several museum institutions and galleries in Croatia on the basis of his own collections and donations; in 1937, the Gipsoteka; in 1940, the Picture Gallery in Osijek; in 1942 the Fine Arts Archive in Zagreb; in 1948, Vukovar Municipal Museum; in 1955, the Vukovar Picture Gallery - and others.
In 1955 he launched an initiative for the foundation for the Museum Documentation Centre, which from 1955 to 1964 worked under the aegis of the Schools Museum, after which, through a Conclusion of the Museum Council and with the consent of the Republican Culture Secretariat, on January 21, culture day, 1964, the MDC was founded as an independent part of the Schools Museum in Zagreb, and two years later, on December 5, 1966, the annexation of the MDC to the Technical Museum in Zagreb was carried out.
On July 22, 1968, MDC was registered as an independent institution at the address of Mesnicka 5, Zagreb; for its work, Bauer provided all the material - documents, photographic documentation and a library relating to museological issues. He published at his own expense the first issues of the museum magazine Muzeologija, which he launched (it still comes out, published by MDC). He took part in many conferences, symposia, international studies, travelled much (France, England, Austria, Germany, Greece and Italy), where he gave a large number of lectures. For his work in museology he received many prizes and honours; however, on January 6, 1975, he turned down the Museums Association "Pavao Ritter Vitezović" Prize, awarded for lifetime achievement, on the grounds that “his lifetime work was not done… and that there are many older and more deserving… who need the prize much more”.
Nevertheless, the Pavao Ritter Vitezović Prize was awarded him in 1986. Antun Bauer died on April 9, 2000, in his 89th year.
NB: Antun Bauer died before the MDC Personal Archive was started; thus all data are derived from the ordinary MDC archives.