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The National Gallery of Slovenia

The National Gallery of Slovenia is the country’s principal institution dedicated to fine art from earlier periods, housing the largest art collection in the country, dating from the High Middle Ages to the 20th century.

The Narodna Galerija (National Gallery) society was founded in 1918. However, endeavours to create a home ("acropolis" as the gallery was named upon its establishment) for Slovenian art were already underway at the end of the 19th century. Among those advocating the establishment of a gallery were the polymath and journalist aristocrat Peter von Radics (1836–1912), the Mayor of Ljubljana, banker and diplomat Dr Ivan Hribar (1851–1941), and the Društvo za krščansko umetnost (Christian Art Society), which in 1907 compiled a collection of old Slovenian art. For decades Slovenians nourished the desire to have their own art institution, and this desire, yearning even, was finally fulfilled in 1925.

And thus from the dreams of the founders and supported by the high cultural awareness of Slovenians the National Gallery developed into one of the most prominent institutions of art and culture. In 1933 the Gallery held an opening ceremony for the expanded permanent exhibition of Slovenian fine art.


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The beginnings are certainly the first milestone. They include the first monographic exhibitions of the painter Ivan Grohar and the Šubic brothers, which were followed by many others. A special milestone was the exhibition of Chinese painting in 1988. It was the National Gallery’s most visited exhibition up to that date. Standing out among the projects dedicated to Slovenian art is the great exhibition Gothic Art in Slovenia, which the National Gallery presented in 1995 in cooperation with the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana.

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Another milestone in the National Gallery's exhibition and research activities was an extensive exhibition of Slovenian impressionists and their contemporaries put on in 2008. It launched the exhibition of Slovenian Impressionists in the Parisian Petit Palais in 2013.


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Permanent exhibitions

The National Gallery of Slovenia owns artworks from several artists in permanent collections, arranged by period from the High Middle Ages to the modern day. In addition to these collections classified by periods, the Gallery also owns the Zoran Mušič collection. The authors of artworks dating from the High Middle Ages to the Renaissance period (1200–1600) are mostly unknown, and the majority of works from this period are paintings, frescos and sculptures of a religious nature, mostly altarpieces.

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Knowledge is the foundation of respect for cultural heritage

Through play, conversation, and even organised birthday parties at the Gallery, children and adolescents can get to know the cultural riches of Slovenia and other nations. Members of Gal's Club discover and experience the exhibited artwork, which then become the inspiration for their own creations in the gallery workshop.

The Gallery also offers many educational programmes for adults: trips with the National Gallery abroad, seminars and lectures. It also organises family activities, e.g. designing amulets for year-round luck, making seals, painting in impressionist style, graphics workshops, sculpting, and so on.

The National Gallery can thus be a schoolroom for the general public, the host of various ideas and a place that encourages us to strive for the same goals as the Gallery's founders, who dreamt about a Slovenian "acropolis".

They dreamt that the Slovenian nation would have a treasury for spreading knowledge, change and experience. After a century we can say that their dreams have been realised, and will continue to be achieved in the future.



Author: Tanja Glogovčan Belančić

Date: 13. January 2020

Time to read: 3 min