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Slovak National Gallery – now even better than before

The National Gallery will open its renovated premises

The Gallery will let the public sneak a peek at the renovated premises for the first time on the second Sunday of December. On this day, the first visitors to the renovated Gallery area on Bratislava’s Rázus embankment can look forward to a full-day program for children and adults, two vernissages and a special architecture works project.

The National Gallery, the largest cultural center in Slovakia, has undergone the most extensive renovation of any objects of this kind since the Velvet Revolution. It is a go-to place not only for the artistic community, but also for all visitors and fans of visual arts. The capital city can now enjoy a brand-new public space for spending some quality time on the banks of the Danube.

Architects Martin Kusý and Pavol Paňák tried to create an authentic work that would combine the last four centuries of architectural bliss, modern back-office space and space for showcasing the best Slovak art and culture. The sensitive approach to the architecture of the 1970s made it possible to preserve the iconic bridge of the gallery, which belongs to the jewels of Bratislava’s neo-modernist architecture.

Thanks to the renovation and modernization, the Slovak National Gallery acquired 5,385 m2 of exhibition space and 1,844 m2 of storage space. In addition, the Slovak National Gallery now boasts a cinema, which also serves as a lecture hall, a multifunctional hall, a modern library, an archive of fine arts, restoration studios, back-office spaces, a courtyard that serves as a public park, a cafe and a gallery bookstore. The investments mainly targeted the iconic bridge, the administrative building, new exhibitions, the Water Barracks building, the new depository and the so-called Hong Kong alley. The total costs amounted to 75.5 million euros.

Given the sensitive and sustainable approach to the renovation, the original ceramic blocks were saved and now form a decorative fence. A large part of the Gallery is covered with a terrazzo floor and ground travertine which used to cover the ground floor of the Gallery. Recycled travertine was also used to make benches on a small square in front of one of the entrances to the Gallery. Probably the most profound element of the sustainable approach is the facade of the depository house – it is made of characteristic white and red aluminum profiles that once held together the bridge and the administrative building.

Since most of the area was closed for 21 years, SNG decided not to wait for the interior and permanent exhibition halls to be furnished completely and open the new building in stages. The Gallery will celebrate its grand (re)opening at the old address on Sunday, December 11, with a rich all-day program and the first vernissages. You will be able to enjoy them until December 21.

After January 1, due to its size and the need to ensure smooth operation, the Gallery will operate on the basis of regulated admissions – private tours of the building and exhibitions that people will be able to sign up for in advance. The Esterházy Palace, which was the only exhibition space of the Bratislava SNG during the renovation works, was closed to the public on December 5 and will be opened again, together with the new building, in the new year.

Collection items will be step by step moved to the new depository. They are still stored in other gallery premises throughout Slovakia; most of them are currently located in the Zvolen Castle. In the course of 2023, the Gallery will gradually open permanent exhibitions, the cinema hall, the modern library, the cafe and the gallery bookstore.

The vernissage ‘Prologue. 12 Colours of Reality’ featuring old, modern and contemporary art in surprising relationships will kick-start the new journey of the Gallery. Thanks to unconventional combinations of works from different historical periods, you will get an insight into the diversity of the SNG collections and get to know the works of art that have been added to the collection over the past 30 years. As you walk through the building, you will be accompanied by an unconventional project with the retro name ‘Art in the Public Space’, thanks to which you will come across sculptures and works of applied art in various corners of the Gallery and see that art and architecture go hand-in-hand.

Visitors can also look forward to an interactive exhibition ‘Take p(art)!’, which answers the most frequently asked questions related to art through the selected works. Visitors will be able to interact and even enter some of the works, leave their mark on them or use them to create their own sound and visual projections and enjoy the art to the fullest.

After more than two decades, Bratislava has acquired monumental representative spaces in which art history can flourish for many years to come. A picture is worth a thousand words.

It’s happening! Come and breathe in the unique atmosphere everyone has been waiting for!