Art & Culture

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

Lego Exhibition
Things to do

Lego Exhibition

Get ready to regress. Running for almost two months, Zagreb Fair is to host an extensive exhibition of giant Lego models. There will be 12 themes areas with Superheroes, Star Wars, Fantasy, Fairytales, Sport, Buildings, Culture and the Human Body all represented. There will be a huge indoor expanse used for the exhibition, with average visiting times expected to be two hours, although fans may stay for as long as they like. Here the universes of DC Comics and Marvel will collide for once. DC Comics' coolest character Batman is well represented by appearing in a life-size model. A seven-foot replica of his Batmobile will accompany him, plus models of the fictional city of Gotham which he inhabits. That model alone uses 270 000 bricks. There will also be models of the Batcave and the Wayne Tower skyscraper. Not to be outdone, the Marvel Universe will be represented by Iron Man, Thor, Spiderman and with a model of the famous Helicarrier from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. One of the other areas will be devoted to a completely different movie franchise. The Star Wars section will house models of all your favourite characters and vehicles from the movies. In the Human Body area, young people can learn about anatomy. Iconic buildings shown will include the Taj Mahal and the Sydney Opera House and there will be an 11 metre long model of the Titanic ship. There is an area dedicated to robots and there will be Lego statues of famous icons from history, sports and culture too. The exhibit

Summer Cinema on Gradec
Things to do

Summer Cinema on Gradec

Taking advantage of Zagreb's balmy late summer evenings, a month of outdoor cinema selections is set in the medieval Gradec. The large outdoor area can attract many moviegoers and there's a music programme attached to the film showcases. The series opens with American musical/comedy La La Land (2 Aug), continuing with Liam Neeson in thriller The Commuter (3 Aug), The Death Of Stalin (5 Aug), Woody Allen's The Wonder Wheel (6 Aug), comedy I Feel Pretty (7 Aug) and Amy Winehouse documentary Amy (8 Aug) with the following weeks programme yet to be confirmed. Attendance is free for all. Prior bookings can be made to ensure you take a spot you prefer. You can make a booking by visiting the actual cinema and making a reservation or online by following links on their Facebook page.

Gustav Klimt: Pioneer of Modernism
Art

Gustav Klimt: Pioneer of Modernism

Marking the centenary of the Austrian painter’s death, this exhibition brings together a handful of original pencil drawings, plus reproductions and posters of some of Klimt’s capital works. Some of the reproductions will be hung in the Villa Camellia, part of the Grand Hotel 4 Opatijska Cvijeta. It’s a great chance to get a feel for Klimt’s work, perhaps, especially if you can’t get to the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna, where most of the originals are to be found.

Let 3: 'I went to high-school in Bakar and we beat each other onto the school bus. It was great.'
Music

Let 3: 'I went to high-school in Bakar and we beat each other onto the school bus. It was great.'

Let 3 are Croatia's most provocative rock act. They come from Rijeka. Formed in the ‘80s, in the days of the city's lively post-punk scene, they have been challenging cultural taboos with their prankster-like behaviour ever since. Their shows are among the best rock concerts you could ever experience in Croatia, and for many young Croats, seeing a Let3 gig is a rite of passage. Founding members Damir "Mrle" Martinović and Zoran "Prlja" Prodanović still front the band. A curious and inspired soul, Martinović also appears alongside his wife Ivanka Mazurkijević in the experimental MrLee & IvaneSky band. But Martinović's artistic endeavours do not end there. For several years he was co-curator of Hartera, an alternative arts space located in a former paper factory inside one of the city's many abandoned industrial sites. The venue, and its Hartera Festival event, brought many famous names to Rijeka, including some of Europe's top DJs, and was cherished by the city's youth. Hartera may have closed, but Martinović is back co-curating another festival. Sailor Sweet & Salt Festival is again a multi-faceted endeavour, with Martinović ambitiously collaborating with Rijeka's science community to turn the sound of their city into a piece of visual art. The event is a key part of Rijeka 2020 Capital of Culture and has an exciting music programme attached. It begins on Friday 27 July with a live concert featuring Darko Rundek & Ekipa, Urban&4 and Mr.Lee & IvaneSky, continuing on Saturda

New museum of war photography opens in Zagreb this summer

New museum of war photography opens in Zagreb this summer

Croatia's first crowdfunded museum will open in Zagreb, collecting some of the most vivid photographs taken during the country's war of independence 1991 – 1995. The museum will show several aspects of the period, with images of soldiers set next to those of civilians caught up in the conflict. Paid for by members of the public, the project has been produced with the co-operation of several other museums, not least the War Photo Limited gallery, which is something of an institution in Dubrovnik. New Zealander Wade Goddard first came to Dubrovnik as a photographer during the siege of the city in the early '90s. Affected by what he saw and keen to broaden the public's understanding of war, in 2003 he opened War Photo Limited, exhibiting moving war photography from Croatia and around the world. In the Zagreb museum, alongside the work of well-known photographers such as Peter Turnley, Dragoljub Zamurović, Ron Haviv, Christopher Morris, Romeo Ibrišević and Matko Biljak will hang images captured by members of the public and shared through the campaign’s social media pages.  

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

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.

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Moderna Galerija • Zagreb
Art

Moderna Galerija • Zagreb

Housed in the impressively renovated Vraniczany palace on Zrinjevac, the Modern Gallery is home to the national collection of 19th- and 20th-century art. It kicks off in spectacular fashion with huge canvases by late-19th-century painters Vlaho Bukovac and Celestin Medović dominating the sublimely proportioned hexagonal entrance hall. From here the collection works its way chronologically through the history of Croatian painting, taking in Ljubo Babić's entrancing 1920s landscapes and Edo Murtić's jazzy exercises in 1950's abstract art. Several contemporary artists are featured here too - sufficient to whet your appetite before hopping over the river to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see some more. The Moderna Galerija's most innovative feature is the tactile gallery, a room containing versions of famous paintings in relief form (together with Braille captions) for unsighted visitors to explore.

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.

Croatian Museum of Naive Art • Zagreb
Museums

Croatian Museum of Naive Art • Zagreb

Housed on the second floor of the 18th-century Raffay Palace, this collection is a solid introduction to Croatian Naive Art, mostly the work of self-taught peasant painters from the villages of the east. The collection is frequently rotated but there are usually plenty of representations of rural life executed by the big names of the genre: Ivan Generalić, Mirko Virius and Ivan Rabuzin. Also included are international primitives such as the self-taught Polish-Ukrainian artist Nikifor.

More cultural venues in Croatia

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.

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.

Greta Gallery • Zagreb
Art

Greta Gallery • Zagreb

Zagreb has always lacked the kind of small-scale independent galleries that occupy the fertile spawning grounds in-between public art institutions and private dealers. Which is why Greta, a gallery in a former clothes shop that opens a new exhibition every Monday night, has proved such an instant hit. Greta doesn’t follow too strict a curatorial framework, ensuring the widest possible variety of artistic approaches. The gallery’s location, at the apex of a bohemian Bermuda Triangle formed by the Fine Arts Academy, the Architecture Faculty and the Sedmica bar, ensures a knowledgeable and enthusiastic public. Indeed Greta regularly receives more visitors than many of the more established galleries, with opening-night celebrants spilling out onto the pavement outside.

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 Kristjan Kožul are among the highlights.