Art & Culture

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

Zagreb's awesome Art Park is opening for summer
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Zagreb's awesome Art Park is opening for summer

A few years ago, boundary-breaking art collective Pimp my Pump teamed up with street art studio Lapo Lapo to turn a run-down urban park, located between Tomić street and Strossmayer promenade in the heart of Zagreb, into a vibrant open-air museum and green event space. You can peruse the make-shift sculptures, watch the artists at work, or even get involved yourself.    An array of fun events, workshops and open-air exhibitions take place throughout summer. Incredible Argentinian muralists Alan Myers and Guido Palmadessa are opening the Art Park alongside a cast of regional street artists. The three-day opening event features live-graffiti and painting, DJ sessions, a cinema powered by a cycling. Pedalafest, a festival dedicated to urban biking, will curate a series of alternative events at the Art Park.   Expect colourful flourishes with interactive 'Urban Toy' sculptures by Aleksandar Battista Ilić and a horticultural upgrade this year from Grow Studio and Hortiart. A collab with FloraArt sees the Art Park participate at its flower show at Bundek between May 28 May to June 3. A reading bench hosted by the publishing company Fraktura will invite a variety of speakers to the Art Park, including Knap, Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Jungle Tribe, Restart Label, ZMAG, Animafest, Goulash Disko, Hoomstock, 36 Mountains Festival and Tam Tam Festival from Hvar. Entrance to this creative oasis and all events, talks and workshops are totally free. The third edition of

These cool new murals in Zagreb fuse street art with nature
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These cool new murals in Zagreb fuse street art with nature

Zagreb is no stranger to graffiti, from its downtown walls covered in rashes of swirling name-tags to bright and beautiful murals that add flourishes of colour to the city. Capitalising on the uptick of interest in street art, Zagreb's annual flower show Floraart are testing a cool new marketing strategy. Mixing verdant foliage with spraypainted images, they've come up with some awesomely textured one-off pieces to promote the event. Teaming up with Boris Bare of the creative team behind Zagreb's Art Park, the project works with trees, ivy and green climbers to celebrate nature in urban spaces.                      All image courtesy of Floraart. You can find them on Opatovina, Ribnjak and Bundek.                             RECOMMENDED: a street art tour of Zagreb  

Some of Zagreb's biggest museums and galleries are opening their doors for free this week
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Some of Zagreb's biggest museums and galleries are opening their doors for free this week

Calling all culture vultures. The European Year of Cultural Heritage is putting on a range of cool initiatives celebrating the best of the continent. In Zagreb, six major museums and galleries have signed up to a project to make entry free all week. Yep, that's right - totally, 100% free! Here are 6 fantastic Zagreb museums and galleries you can visit this week without spending a single penny. Croatian Museum of Naive Art, May 7 - 13One of Zagreb's most unique collections, this museum features an array of incredibly bold and colourful works by Croatia's self-taught peasant painters from the late 1930s to the mid-1980s Sv Ćirila i Metoda 3 Dražen Petrović Memorial Center, May 7 -13Off-the-beaten-path, this museum is dedicated to the basketball legend who died in car crash at the age of 28, taking you on a trip through his short-lived career with medals, trophies and memorabilia. Trg Dražena Petrovića 3 Nikola Tesla Museum, May 8 - 13This museum houses aircraft, a 1930s snow-mobile, a World War II mini-submarine, 19th-century fire engines and a Dubrovnik tram from 1912, and the lab of the cult inventor and internet folklore hero Nikola Tesla. Savska 18Museum of Contemporary Art, May 8 -11Ride Carsten Höller's slides, get to know the '50s Croatian abstract generation and the Zagreb-based New Tendencies movement from the '70s, plus watch performances from artists Tom Gotovac and Vlasta Delima. You'll also see extravagant murals by Croatian street artists on your way in. Aven

The Sixties in Croatia: Myth and Reality
Museums

The Sixties in Croatia: Myth and Reality

It’s often thought that the cultural and political turbulence of the Sixties was something that happened in London, Paris, Prague or West-Coast USA, leaving other parts of the world to passively watch from the sidelines. What this major exhibition reveals is that countries like Croatia were not on the fringes of a revolution happening somewhere else, they were themselves at the centre of the whirlwind. Then a constituent republic of the communist-ruled Yugoslav federation, Croatia enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom in the 1960s. People had money in their pockets, feeding the kind of consumer industries that employed designers, marketing strategists, advertising executives and stylists – the very people we call “creatives” today. Cracks in communist discipline unleashed increased dissonance in political views and a relaxed attitude to censorship, while relative cultural freedom allowed avant-garde artists to explore any avenues they wanted. Navigating its way through politics, art, pop music and film, the exhibition is a lavish visual treat: examples of magazine layouts, clothing patterns and swanky domestic furniture will provide stacks of inspiration for anyone interested in modern design. Sudden shifts in lifestyles are signalled by exhibits such as the “Fića”, the Yugoslav-made version of the Fiat 600 that brought car ownership to the masses; a pair of Rifle jeans, the most popular purchase for Croatian shoppers popping over the border to Trieste; and arguably the mo

Zagreb's Museum of Broken Relationships wants your breakup texts
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Zagreb's Museum of Broken Relationships wants your breakup texts

When the Museum of Broken Relationships started as a tongue-in-cheek temporary exhibition in 2010, much like its symbolic mementoes of failed relationships, it wasn't supposed to be a long-term thing. A touring exhibition propelled it into the cult-status territory, and the museum has since enjoyed a permanent home in Zagreb and Los Angeles. Now, the Museum plans to go beyond the physical, reflecting the shape-shifting reality of relationships in the digital age. The museum will begin archiving on-screen momentoes like unanswered text messages, break up emails and awful Tinder profiles.  Researchers from the Living Digital group at the University of Dundee have teamed up with The Museum of Broken Relationships for the study 'Digital Separations' aiming to better understand how we break up and remember our relationships through digital artefacts. Daniel Herron and Professor Wendy Moncur are exploring what ‘digital souvenirs’ people keep after a breakup. The team have begun to collect the digital souvenirs as part of their research, which includes: ‘Not breakup text’, an unanswered text between high school sweethearts who were in a struggling long-distance relationship; ‘Email Title Said It All’, an emotional break-up email with the ominous subject line, ‘The End; and ‘Santo Antônio kept me alive’, a photograph of pet dog that helped heal the hurt after an abusive and emotional break-up. The digital souvenirs collected by the Museum and the University will be added to the p

The best of Croatia

Zagreb gallery guide
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.