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Slovak National Gallery plans to continue overhaul

THE SLOVAK National Gallery had a busy and productive year in 2012. Despite of closing down its permanent exhibitions in one of its main buildings – the Water Barracks / Vodné kasárne – and offering fewer shows in the other main structure, the Esterházy palace, the gallery recorded a larger profit than in the previous year.

THE SLOVAK National Gallery had a busy and productive year in 2012. Despite of closing down its permanent exhibitions in one of its main buildings – the Water Barracks / Vodné kasárne – and offering fewer shows in the other main structure, the Esterházy palace, the gallery recorded a larger profit than in the previous year.

Last year's recap

The head of the National Gallery (SNG), Alexandra Kusá, explained at a press conference on April 25, how several innovations helped boost both the number of visitors and raise revenues. Probably the most successful project, according to Kusá, was offered in the Summer Pavilion, the courtyard adjacent to the Water Barracks which had been closed previously and opened in summer 2012. Operating from last May until the beginning of October, it was visited by some 120 people daily. The structure received a major award from the Slovak Chamber of Architects for exterior design. It housed a wide field of activities including concerts, exhibitions, discussions, workshops and summer camps for children.

“The emphasis will shift to outdoor grilling and gardening this summer,” Kusá said, adding for The Slovak Spectator that vertical gardens, walls covered with flowers and greenery, will provide the visual leitmotif in a space where visitors are invited to picnic and barbecue in the heart of the city. The courtyard will open on the Night of Museums and Galleries, on May 18, and close at the beginning of October.

Another outdoor project

Another innovation resulted from a cooperative project between the SNG and Horský Park, a large green space not far from the city centre and a popular weekend destination. The joint project resulted in the SNG’s exhibits being shown in an outdoor setting in a park well-known for its sculpture garden. “We lent them some of our artwork as well as our curator,” Kusá said, adding that the project will be brought back this summer.

More changes to come

Kusá outlined more changes at the Esterházy Palace. The bookstore will now be operated in cooperation with the Ex Libris book-seller focusing on art books for both adults and children. It will open on May 18. Also the Berlinka Café, which had been operated by a private business, will be taken over by the SNG. The open-air cinema will resume and there will be live performances in the amphitheatre beginning with a show by the Czech musician Floex on May 8.

“We have also altered the emphasis of our publishing activities,” the SNG head said. “Apart from numerous catalogues – we issued one for every major exhibition of 2012 – we also published a gallery yearbook, a notebook, as well as various souvenir items.”

Kusá also touched on the Digital Gallery project, the digitalisation of the artworks initially from three galleries: the SNG, the Bratislava City Gallery and the Central-Slovak Gallery in Banská Bystrica.

Reconstruction ahead

The Water Barracks, which closed last summer, as well as the modern extension, the so-called Bridging, closed 10 years ago, are scheduled to be reconstructed within three years and the core holdings will be moved to the Hurbanove kasárne / Hurban Barracks in Mickiewiczova Street – during the summer, with the final moving and reopening slated for October. “We might run into a slightly restricted mode for a time, but we definitely do not want to close the National Gallery,” Kusá told TSS. “As we are in ‘reconstruction mode,’ we can afford the trial-and-error mode and not everything must turn out to be a success,” she concluded. Updated information can be found at www.sng.sk/en/uvod.

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