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Danubiana art museum seeks government financial aid

THE DANUBIANA art museum, a renowned modern art gallery situated on a man-made peninsula in the Danube River, might be forced to close due to financial problems, according to its director, Vincent Polakovič. The director of the private gallery told the Sme daily that this might happen as early as January 2012. The museum, near the Gabčíkovo dam and adjacent to the Čunovo whitewater sports complex, is home to permanent and visiting exhibitions.

Vincent Polakovič (left, with benefactor Gerard Meulensteen) says Danubiana may close.(Source: Vlado Benko)

THE DANUBIANA art museum, a renowned modern art gallery situated on a man-made peninsula in the Danube River, might be forced to close due to financial problems, according to its director, Vincent Polakovič. The director of the private gallery told the Sme daily that this might happen as early as January 2012. The museum, near the Gabčíkovo dam and adjacent to the Čunovo whitewater sports complex, is home to permanent and visiting exhibitions.

The museum has been financially supported by Gerard Meulensteen, a Dutch art collector and sponsor, since its inception in 2000. Polakovič is now seeking financial support from the City of Bratislava, the Bratislava Regional Government and the Ministry of Culture.

“If we fail to receive financial support, we will not be able to pay for the operation of the museum due to the current economic situation,” Polakovič stated, adding that operating the gallery costs about €1,000 per day, with high costs for heating in winter and similar high costs for air-conditioning in the summer. The museum has requested €100,000 from the city government and the same amount from the regional government.

“The gallery is important for the capital’s tourism and we will try to prepare a solution. But the amount requested is too high for the indebted city,” Ľubomír Andrassy, the spokesman for Bratislava, told the Sme daily. It is not clear how much the city might contribute to the gallery as next year’s budget will be decided by city councillors in mid December.

Bratislava Region spokesperson Iveta Tyšlerová, said that the regional government’s leadership is not indifferent to the gallery’s fate but that its generosity is constrained by the financial condition of the state budget, which is the source of most of the regional government’s revenue.

Slovakia’s Culture Ministry also stated that it wants to see the gallery continuing to operate and is negotiating with the museum but a ministry official, Andrej Piško, noted that “the gallery has, unfortunately, so far failed to submit all the required documents”.

The threat of closure came, ironically, just as construction of the final stage of the museum was slated to start. “The new head of [the General Conference of] UNESCO, Katalin Bogyay, said that if Danubiana was completed with a pavilion of Slovak and international art, she would propose that it be inscribed on UNESCO’s list of cultural monuments,” Polakovič stated.


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