The centenary of a
cultural institution is a landmark deserving special attention, particularly if
the institution has spent the hundred years of its continuous operation in
several political regimes and was lucky to survive also war circumstances.
The 18thof September 1918 is considered the birth date of the National Gallery Society:
on that day, in the uncertain situation when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was
falling into pieces, the founding general assembly was summoned in Ljubljana.
The venture started without any art holdings and without exhibition space. The
national consciousness helped to establish the institution that took over the
municipal art collection and solemnly opened the exhibition – enlarged by the
first purchases – in March 1920 in the residential rooms in the first floor of
the Kresija (Kreisamt) palace. In June 1924, the National Gallery Society
rented the Jakopič Pavilion from the city council, thus acquiring a space for
staging temporary exhibitions. And in November 1925, the Society was also given
the use of a major part of the rooms in the Narodni Dom palace, with the
exception of those that were occupied by the Sokol (Falcon) gym society, later
renamed Partizan, and finally renamed Narodni Dom sports society.
When the National Gallery
Society celebrated its tenth anniversary, a selection of works from the
Gallery’s holdings was exhibited in twelve rooms of the Narodni Dom palace in
December 1928: 230 paintings, 132 pieces of sculpture, and 746 works on paper.
This eagerness of the Society’s members further gave rise to a permanent
exhibition that was opened in June 1933 and was enlarged by artworks which were
renounced or given on loan by the National Museum of Slovenia, the Diocesan
Museum, and the above-mentioned Ljubljana municipal art collection.
Gallery Society was dissolved by a state decree in August 1945, and on the 1stof June 1946 a state ordinance inaugurated the National Gallery of Slovenia as
a state institution.
The growth of the
Gallery’s art holdings, which were essentially increased in 1986 through the
incorporation of the Slovenian government art collection, required extension to
the premises. Thus, in 1994, a detached new wing was added to the Narodni Dom
palace, with a large exhibition room for temporary exhibitions, a gallery
storey for permanent exhibition of the European collection, storage and garage
space, modern offices for the professional staff, and rooms for the library,
photo-documentation and photographic studio. All these facts rendered possible
to update museum standards. The absence of connection between the Narodni Dom
palace and the new wing hindered the working process, and this disadvantage was
overcome in September 2001 when a new glass hall was erected which
interconnected the two units.
honourable jubilee was approaching, thorough renovation of the Narodni Dom
palace was finally carried out a few years ago. Acquisition of new spaces
resulted in a rearranged and considerably enlarged permanent exhibition of the
Gallery’s art holdings, covering the time span from the early 13thcentury to the mid-20th century. The grand opening on the 27thof January 2016, the attainment of years of efforts for updating the collection
of national significance, further consolidated the position the National
Gallery of Slovenia holds among the European art museums.
Celebrations, marking the 100th anniversary of
the National Gallery of Slovenia, are under the honorary patronage of His
Excellency Mr Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia.