National Gallery of Slovenia Restored to Its Full Glory

National Gallery of Slovenia
National Gallery of Slovenia

After the renovation and extension of its oldest wing, the National Gallery will fully reopen for visitors in Ljubljana on 27 January 2016, along with a completely reorganised and expanded Permanent Collection.

The refurbishment of the mansion from the Austria-Hungarian period, which has been the main home of the National Gallery since 1925, will enable the showcasing of art according to the latest standards. The gallery keeps the largest collection of art made in Slovenian lands between the Middle Ages and Modernism, including a highly treasured collection of Slovenian Impressionists. The historical building, the Narodni dom (National Home), was built by Czech architect František Škabrout in 1896, with the goal of bringing all Slovenian associations of the time under one roof. But even after the building was claimed by the National Gallery, incepted some seven years earlier, its western wing remained occupied by a gymnastics club until the most recent renovation started in 2012. Valued at 14 million euros, the works represented the third and final stage of the restoration of the National Gallery, which started a quarter of a century ago and during which the gallery got two new extensions.

Comprising three buildings and a connecting glass and steel wing, the entire complex now comprises almost 13,000 square metres, 3,100 square metres of which are allocated for the new permanent collection. The latter features 613 works of art, displayed on the ground and first floors of Narodni dom and in the north wing, which was built by architect Edvard Ravnikar in 1993. The overhauled permanent collection combines the so far separate collections of Slovenian and European art, which have additionally been expanded by a third, according to gallery director Barbara Jaki. The collection follows a chronological order with the largest artworks showcased in the great hall, including the Glorification of Saint Francis of Sales, the 18th century canvas by Valentin Metzinger. Several new artists have been included, also, as Jaki says, in order to cover the whole territory of today’s Slovenia, considering the previous collection was more or less limited to Carniola. On the occasion, a book featuring a hundred most popular artworks from the new collection has come out in Slovenian and English language.

One of the gallery’s main missions since its inception has been the popularisation of art heritage. This airy structure with a glass facade, facing the Tivoli Park, now represents one of the classier function spaces in the city centre. The old wing containing the gallery’s permanent collection exhibits features the Large Hall – a ceremonial function space being most suitable for protocol receptions, award presentations and concerts. An event at the National gallery of Slovenia can be enhanced by a guided tour of the gallery and the permanent collection. An additional novelty are guided drawing tours and tours guided by well-known Slovenians.

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