The spotlight might be on the Museum of Contemporary Art over the Sava in Novi Zagreb, but the city’s Lower Town between the main square and the train station contains a handful of venues worthy of attention.
Housed in an attractive historicist palace on Zrinjevac, Moderna Galerija is unique in attempting to bridge the artistic eras of the modern and the contemporary, by including conceptual and video works alongside the painterly classics.
The museum organises temporary shows that purposefully place its permanent collection of Croatian modernism and avant-garde masterworks in a wider context. Recently they focused on the iconography of the city through painting, drawing, printmaking and photography, as well as through literature and music, to conjure up the energetic urban scene of early 20th century Zagreb, from the newly laid out boulevards and squares, to life on the social and political periphery.
The small size of Galerija Nova is made up for by the scale of artistic ambition of the four girls who have built its reputation since 2003. The packed programme of events boasts not just exhibitions but talks, performances, discussions and book launches too – enough to rival the programme of any major art institution in the city.
Croatian Artists’ Centre
Nearby, the Croatian Artists’ Centre, fills a pavilion built by Croatia’s most renowned sculptor Ivan Meštrović. Three galleries over two floors host a constantly changing string of exhibitions. The Galerija Prošireni mediji is lit with natural sunlight coming through the cupola and is dedicated to media art.
On the same square and less well-known, the Galerija Badrov features nearly all of Zagreb’s styles as well as paintings by the likes of Edo Murtić. Baroque, Art Deco, Secessionism, and Biedermeier are on display in the forms of silverware, tea settings, sofas, clocks, chests, jewellery and art.
Heading down towards the station, and centrepiecing Tomislav trg, the Art Pavilion, created for the Budapest exhibition of 1896, hosts major arts events and exhibitions – and accommodates the quality Paviljon restaurant too.
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