Art & Culture

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

New Nikola Tesla exhibition centre to open in Karlovac
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New Nikola Tesla exhibition centre to open in Karlovac

A new permanent exhibition centre dedicated to the life and work of world famous inventor Nikola Tesla is set to be opened in Karlovac, some 55 kilometres south west of Croatia's capital Zagreb. The city of Karlovac is where Tesla studied and from where he received his last official diploma.Nikola TeslaAn inventor and hugely innovative engineer, Tesla is best known for pioneering the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system, which enabled the safe placement of electricity within every home, street and business as we know it today. He was born in 1856 in a village called Smiljan, in present day Croatia, to Serbian Orthodox parents.In 1862, the Tesla family moved to Gospić, also in Lika, Croatia, where Tesla's father worked as parish priest. Nikola Tesla himself was supposed to follow his father and his mother's father into the Orthodox priesthood. However, luckily for all of us, that was not meant to be. In 1870, Tesla moved to Karlovac to attend the Higher Real Gymnasium. The new exhibition centre is located next door to that place of his former studies.Nikola Tesla Experience Centre in KarlovacThe new exhibition centre will be a three floored space dedicated to Tesla's life and work. It will house items which he used while studying in Karlovac, his original school certificate and an extensive art installation which will display some of Tesla's many ideas and defining work. The centre will be used as a place of education for school children, holding a classroom, ex

Zagreb's best art house and independent cinemas
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Zagreb's best art house and independent cinemas

Offering diverse and well thought-out movies, independent cinemas can be the place to catch up on some of the best films made around the world or the place to introduce a friend or date to one of your most cherished old classics. Luckily, Zagreb has a crop of art house cinemas showing the best of world and independent movies - with many screened in English. Here's where to find them. RECOMMENDED: The best film festivals in Croatia.

Zagreb Film Festival releases one of this year's themes: Tycoons
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Zagreb Film Festival releases one of this year's themes: Tycoons

Tycoons, oligarchs, magnates; there are many words to describe those who hold great wealth, influence and power at the slim top of the capitalist system. Some descriptions hold their own specifics, and some are more complimentary than others. These figures lie a world away from the lives of most people, their wealth and standing acquired via often suspicious means or passed down from generation to generation, ensuring that few outside can ever attain or begin to understand such power and riches. In today's world, such people taint the lives of every man and woman alive, their unseen hands guiding us and halting us as we travel through life. Alongside the environmental rape of the planet for short-term gains, they are the only logical end result of a capitalist system many seem to embrace, their effect on our lives more akin to being urinated on than the 'trickle down' economics such figures are purported to provide. These tycoons will come under closer inspection at 2018's approaching Zagreb Film Festival, Croatia's premier film event. The festival's programme holds several themes this year, with the Tycoon presentations, curated by critic Diana Nenadić, joining a recently announced showcase of Czech filmmakers, the ZFF PLUS programme plus the festival's ambitious expansion to several cities outside Zagreb. Five films make up the Tycoon programme during the festival. 'The Promised Land', Polish director Andrzej Wajda's classic 1975 indictment on deceit and greed, depicts a

A view from Croatia: Dario Dunaj
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A view from Croatia: Dario Dunaj

'I have regular job that pays the bills, but my photography is quickly catching up in importance,' says Zagreb-based photographer Dario Dunaj, who is sometimes a fashion photographer, but also a part of the Krenimo collective who document abandoned spaces. 'Sometimes you need to run as fast as you can, because not all the places or rooftops are legal. But that's part of the deal. I would say that skateboarding videos and photos educated me most when I was younger. And for sure they shaped the way I observe the world around me.''What inspires me most to take photos? Life itself and how some situations, despite how small they seem, can have a big impact on you. Situations and human emotions; how people hold themselves and deal with their inner worlds. That is really interesting to observe.''Abandoned places make you wonder who was there before you, and what was the energy inside the space when it was alive. You can almost feel like an archaeologist when you're digging through somebody else's past like that, even if it's just in the building itself. By pure instinct you can sometimes just feel some situation, and then your eye or your camera will capture it forever.' 'My personal beliefs about photography as a medium is that it helps us express our view of our surroundings. It works as a perfect bridge between the past and future because, as a moment, motive actually only exists in the now.''Most of the best photographs I took turned out to be those weird little moment that you

The best winter festivals in Croatia
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The best winter festivals in Croatia

Croatia's winter festivals are a great way to carouse with the locals. Heavily influenced by folkloric traditions and sacred religious holidays, they're local affairs with plenty of ceremonial pomp. Epic film festivals, religious holidays and magnificent carnivals: we've picked the best winter festivals in Croatia. RECOMMENDED: the best summer festivals in Croatia.

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
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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.

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 Modern & Contemporary Art • Rijeka
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Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art • Rijeka

Founded in 1948, Rijeka’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti or MMSU) has long enjoyed a reputation for holding some of the most exciting contemporary art exhibitions in the country. It is also the host of the Biennial of the Quadrilateral, a contemporary art show featuring artists from Croatia, Italy, Slovenia and Hungary – a quartet of countries that has had a profound effect on the history of Rijeka. Works from the museum’s large permanent collection are rarely seen save during occasional themed exhibitions – the museum’s current home, in the same building as the Rijeka municipal library, is too limited to host more than the (albeit excellent) temporary exhibitions. The MMSU has been promised a new home in the Rikard Benčić palace, built to serve as the HQ of a sugar refinery in 1752 and currently awaiting long-discussed restoration. The completion date lies some way in the future, although the project will help to confirm the MMSU’s status as an increasingly major player in the Central-European art scene. Over the past few years the MMSU has been run by a string of directors who have also been big-hitting curators – a trend that seems set to continue with the arrival of new chief Slaven Tolj (former head of the Lazareti Art Workshop in Dubrovnik).

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.

More cultural venues in Croatia

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.

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.

City Museum • Rijeka
Museums

City Museum • Rijeka

Set in a pavilion alongside the Governor's Palace – and thus alongside the History & Maritime Museum, making it a convenient first port of call for any first-time visitor to Rijeka – the two-floor City Museum comprises a modest permanent exhibition but stages a number of fascinating temporary ones. Recent subjects have included the development of the torpedo, the history of Rijeka harbour, and emigration from Central Europe to America 1880-1914.

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 Kristian Kožul are among the highlights.