Renovation of national gallery delayed, other projects continue

While the vast renovation of the head building of the SNG is not expected to be completed before the beginning of 2020, on a positive note the art website Web Umenia is thriving, free admission and accompanying events – including Sunday Rest in English, continue.

SNG reconstruction, 2017.SNG reconstruction, 2017. (Source: Sme - Jozef Jakubčo)

In mid-April, the Slovak National Gallery (SNG) released a report on its 2017 activities, as well as on the state of the renovation of its main Bratislava building, the Water Barracks, and the operations impacted by it.

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The SNG general manager, Alexandra Kusá, pointed out that the original date of completion – which started in 2015 and should have finished by December 2018 – was already postponed once in 2016 for the Slovak presidency of the Council of Europe. Other unexpected circumstances and technical issues followed, meaning that currently it is hard to forecast a precise deadline. Kusá does not expect it to be any time earlier than the beginning of 2020.

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An “media day” at the construction site will take place some time this autumn, Kusá added, at which time a more precise estimation of an reopening date for the Water Barracks at the Danube bank will be available.

After being finished, the SNG headquarters will offer, for the first time ever, “one roof under which all deposits can be collected in one place, well-preserved, outside flood risks, and in good climatic conditions”, according to Kusá.

Renovations do not dissuade visitors

The Schaubmar Mill near Pezinok (close to Bratislava) is also undergoing renovation, but in this case it is rather a “revitalisation” which includes the renewal of the orchard and garden near the mill (which houses the naïve art collection) aimed at making this site a favourite relaxation and leisure-time place. A bigger renovation is also slated for the mill.

The Ľudovít Fulla Gallery in Ružomberok would like to apply for the so-called Norwegian funds to be able to undergo a renovation as well.

In Pezinok and at Esterházy Palace in Bratislava, admission is free and has been since 2014 when first introduced. Mostly due to this fact, these two venues were visited by 62,276 people (without accompanying and cultural events) in 2017. The total number of visitors at SNG, in Bratislava, Pezinok, the Zvolen Castle, Ľudovít Fulla Gallery in Ružomberok and the Strážky Mansion amounted to 141,829 for the 2017 year.

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“We have managed to overturn a general long term trend in central Europe, and the number of visitors keeps increasing,” Kusá said. She added that this factor is not the only important thing but that they care because it is visitors they make the exhibitions for. Of the seven exhibitions in 2017, the Dream × Reality/Art & Propaganda 1939 – 1945 was by far the most successful (20,689 visitors), followed by Sew Long! Fashion in Slovakia 1945-1989.

Art online

The digitalisation project Web Umenia – an online catalogue presenting 108,625 pieces of art by 6, 928 artists – has been crucial for SNG, its head noted. The updated website launched in 2015 as the output of Digital Gallery project, she said, has become a model for other galleries, including several in the Czech Republic. The daily rate of visitors to the website has also kept increasing. An English version of the site has been launched. The website is a model for other galleries who want to follow the same pattern.

A new feature, enhancing the practical use of Web Umenia, is that art lovers can download a favourite artwork on Facebook ( and order a professional print of it for an affordable price.

Another feature of SNG that is continuing is the tradition of accompanying events, one of which is Sunday Rest and held in English held on eevry first Sunday in a month at 16:00. No reservation is necessary.

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