Art & Culture

Your essential guide to galleries, museums and the performing arts in Croatia

Alexander Calder: The Magic of a Sculptural Movement
Art

Alexander Calder: The Magic of a Sculptural Movement

A treat for your inner child (or your actual child), this exhibition focuses on the work of American Modernist Alexander Calder – also known as the man who invented the hanging mobile. Calder was the most playful of the great 20th century sculptors, obsessed with movement and theatricality. His mobiles seem to have a life of their own, and watching them as they spin and cast shadows on the walls is joy incarnate.

Six images from the new Consuelo Palma exhibition 'Flow'
News

Six images from the new Consuelo Palma exhibition 'Flow'

Consuelo Palma is a Chilean artist who has been living in Zagreb for more than 10 years. The two chief mediums in which she works are sculpture and painting, both of which feature within her new exhibition 'Flow', which opens at the AMZ Gallery in Zagreb on Thursday December 5th.The sculptures represent Apachetas, stone monuments formed as an altar by travellers on the road and dedicated to Pachamama, the divinity of the ancient Inca. Often, these monuments were marked with messages, prayers, flowers and gifts and serve as a protection for the road's travellers.Consuelo mimicks these monuments with her ceramic sculptures, perhaps still indicating the feeling of being a transitory guest, whereas her paintings include glimpses of Croatian land and city-scapes and imply a greater attachment.She says, "With my sculptures, I evoke the Apachetas, altars dedicated to the Pachamama. The Incas, on their long journeys through the highlands, far from home, using stones from the road, built these altars to pray to the Pachamama. In their prayers, they begged for protection on their trip, they searched through this cluster of stones to connect with their supreme being." "Through the use of ceramics as a medium, I am looking to create my own Apachetas as a symbol of traveller protection. Just as I live as a foreigner in a country far from my homeland, and despite the feeling of being always very welcome and protected, my sculptures, stones and Apachetas, are created as companions, as symbo

The best places to see The Nutcracker in Croatia this Christmas
Dance

The best places to see The Nutcracker in Croatia this Christmas

This Christmas, Croatia is going nutty for The Nutcracker. The magical ballet is the theme of this year's Advent in Zagreb and you can expect to see its characters come to life throughout the capital city. A firm family favourite with an unforgettable score by Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker has been performed in Croatia more times than any other ballet. This year, no less than five internationally-renowned ballet ensembles interpret the show across Croatia's major cities Split, Rijeka, Osijek, Zadar and Zagreb.

Visions of the city: Iconography of the City II (1950-2000+)
Things to do

Visions of the city: Iconography of the City II (1950-2000+)

Cities are breeding grounds of creativity, places where artists flock to watch, be watched, and skulk around in long coats. This multi-media exhibition explores art’s love affair with urban life, specifically in the Post-Modern second half of the 20th Century. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of material on global metropolis New York, but we also see how Zagreb has been home and muse to artists from Croatia and further afield.

ArtOmat
Things to do

ArtOmat

A godsend for those challenged in the gift-buying department, the Artomat fair sees local creatives gather in the Croatian Artists’ Association (HDLU) to solve your Christmas shopping woes. With handmade ceramics, contemporary fashion, genuine artworks and craft beer on offer, you’re guaranteed to find a weird and wonderful gift.

The best of Croatia

Zagreb gallery guide
Art

Zagreb gallery guide

Zagreb’s many galleries come in many guises – passionate independent venues rub shoulders with venerable institutions. Consider this your essential Zagreb gallery guide.

Dubrovnik art gallery guide
Art

Dubrovnik art gallery guide

Dubrovnik is not all about luxury hotels and destination restaurants. Step inside our Dubrovnik art gallery guide to discover where to catch some of Croatia's best modern and contemporary art, and coolest exhibition programmes.

Essential Dubrovnik attractions
Things to do

Essential Dubrovnik attractions

Dubrovnik's glittering past as the Republic of Ragusa means it has several stand-out sights of great historic interest, which combine with its scattering of museums and galleries. Fascinating landmarks dot the Old Town an easy stroll from each other, perfect for a day's sightseeing. Consider this your Dubrovnik attractions bucket list.

The best Split museums and galleries
Art

The best Split museums and galleries

A bustling hub in Roman times, Split – which is built around an old Roman palace – is full of unique historic and artistic treasures. Split attractions include a number of museums and galleries that make the city a fascinating destination for art aficionados, historians and sightseers alike. Here's where to head.

Croatia’s top venues for art and exhibitions

Croatian National Theatre • Rijeka
Theatre

Croatian National Theatre • Rijeka

Both an architectural and cultural landmark, Rijeka’s Croatian National Theatre was designed by the same team of architects as its namesakes in Split and Zagreb: Austrian Ferdinand Fellner and his German partner Hermann Helmer. In fact, the pair created dozens of theatres across Europe, from Odessa to Zürich, this one opened in 1885. Though Croatian-language performances here may be of limited interest, there’s also ballet and opera on the agenda, and the interior is worth a look around – Gustav Klimt and brother Ernst helped paint the ceiling before its grand unveiling, a performance of Verdi’s Aida.

Museum of Arts & Crafts • Zagreb
Museums

Museum of Arts & Crafts • Zagreb

This grand Hermann Bollé-designed palace, founded in 1880, was originally based on 'a collection of samples for master craftsmen and artists who need to re-improve production of items of everyday use'. It has now grown to become the country's premier collection of applied art, with a wide-ranging gaggle of pieces from Baroque altar pieces to Biedermeier furniture, domestic ceramics, clocks and contemporary poster design. A side room full of synagogue silverware and ritual candlesticks recalls the rich heritage of Zagreb's pre-World War II Jewish community. On the top floor, a collection of 19th-20th century ball gowns and evening dresses provides a strong whiff of glamour. The museum is also a major venue for temporary exhibitions with big themes, with the photographs of Rene Magritte and the history of Croatian Art Deco drawing recent crowds.

Museum of Contemporary Art • Zagreb
Museums

Museum of Contemporary Art • Zagreb

Costing some €60 million and covering 14,500 square metres, the MCA – MSU in Croatian – is the most significant museum to open in Zagreb for more than a century. Its collection includes pieces from the 1920s and gathered since 1954 when Zagreb's original MCA (in Upper Town) was founded. Of particular note are Carsten Höller's slides, similar to the 'Test Site' installation he built for Tate Modern's Turbine Hall but custom-made and site specific for Zagreb – pieces of art patrons can ride to the parking lot. Croatia's outstanding 1950s generation of abstract-geometric artists (Ivan Picelj, Aleksandar Srnec, Vjenceslav Richter, Vlado Kristl) play a starring role in the collection, alongside photographs and films documenting the more outlandish antics of legendary performance artists like Tom Gotovac and Vlasta Delimar. The new-media and computer-art works produced by the Zagreb-based New Tendencies movement in the late '60s and early 70s reveals just how ahead-of-its-time much of Croatian art really was.

Croatian National Theatre • Zagreb
Theatre

Croatian National Theatre • Zagreb

This neo-baroque landmark, opened by Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef in 1895, played a vital role in the establishment of a Croatian national identity. What you find today is a sumptuous interior – a suitably ornate backdrop for local-language theatre, congresses and promotional events.

More cultural venues in Croatia

Croatian Association of Artists • Zagreb
Art

Croatian Association of Artists • Zagreb

Visit for the building alone, a circular pavilion standing in the middle of Victims of Fascism Square a ten-minute walk south-east of the main square. The building was designed by sculptor Ivan Meštrović just before World War II as an exhibition space in honour of the then Yugoslav King Peter I. Inside, the circular walls contain three galleries, which span two floors and provide an outstanding venue for a dynamic program of contemporary art exhibitions and events organized by the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU). The circular central hall features natural light through the cupola.

Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery
Art

Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery

When you tire of all of the “I love Dubrovnik” t-shirts and refrigerator magnets, take a 10-minute stroll from the city walls to the Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery, on the left-hand side of the road that leads to the Excelsior Hotel. This little gem features striking contemporary paintings by Croatian-American artist Selma Hafizovic Muller, who also exhibits in many galleries in New York. Her work is colourful, edgy: a welcome change from all the traditional landscapes, harbour scenes and sunsets.

Croatian National Theatre • Split
Theatre

Croatian National Theatre • Split

As in Zagreb, the National Theatre in Split played a vital role in the promotion of the Croatian language while the country was still ruled from elsewhere. This venerable institution opened in 1893, first at Dobroma, before this imposing edifice was built decades later. Early performances featured troupes from Italy while a local theatrical culture developed. Today the HNK not only stages Croatian-language theatre, but also foreigner-friendly opera and ballet. It's a major venue during the Split Summer Festival.

Natural History Museum • Rijeka
Museums

Natural History Museum • Rijeka

Behind the Governor’s Palace it overlooks, Rijeka‘s Natural History Museum established its large collection of specimens from the Kvarner Bay, Gorski Kotar and Istria, thanks to private collectors from the mid 19th century onwards. Key displays include one of sharks and rays, and a geological history of the Adriatic Sea.

Lauba House • Zagreb
Art

Lauba House • Zagreb

Lurking mysteriously in a little-visited area 4km west of the centre is this brand-new private art gallery, occupying a century-old barrack block painted in alluring matt black by modern restorers. Displaying the collection of businessman Tomislav Kličko, Lauba includes major works by virtually everyone who is anyone in Croatian art from about 1950 onwards. If you've already visited the Museum of Contemporary Art, then Lauba will provide you with a refreshingly alternative take on the local art establishment, concentrating on visually appealing works as well as more conceptual exercises. Figurative paintings by Lovro Artuković and disarmingly bling sculptures by Kristian Kožul are among the highlights.