The arrival of fall in Ljubljana is followed by the vibrant palette of autumn colours, but also with early evenings, fog and a lot of greys. Since winter is coming early this year, apparently, the best thing one can do to avoid the annual swampland melancholy is binging on culture, taking place indoors.
Some suggestions are beneath.
A sophisticated gallery in the midst of the city hustle, where even a short visit offers a regal dose of inspiration in the fields of photography, design, architecture and other visual arts. In substance, the exhibitions do not confine themselves only to contemporary artworks, but steadily introduce older ones, rethought in a present-day context. Exhibition programme is accompanied by media library, in which the newborn inspiration can find theoretical and research foundations.
One should enter the Jakopič Gallery with caution, as the gallery in the heart of the building foundations can easily take over the surroundings. The absence of natural light, elegant blackness in combination with stone floors and beams of concrete create the illusion of remoteness, in whose company the viewing of exhibitions is even more delightful. Installations, the original display of artworks and multimedia elements create a spacial sensation, kept in memory for quite some time after the visit. However, it can easily happen one just passes by, as the gallery lies, invisible to unfamiliar, right next to the sidewalk on the main street.
Museum of contemporary art (MSUM)
In this house of modern culture, the post-war avant-garde artworks of Eastern Europe shamelessly flirt with temporary exhibitions, in front of the library with an admirable collection of 66,000 books, conceptual bookstore, video archives, and charming, comfortable café.
The museum offers a friendly feeling from the beginning, with a hidden entrance from the side of the building, immediately indicating its playful nature, full of surprises. The massive concrete wing is structurally originally dynamical, showered with natural light in all its niches. Therefore an ideal milieu for art, with artworks in their uncommonness successfully summarising the hectic nature of the present and recent past. An insightful eye will catch the wall of paintings by the Russian master Kazimir Malevich if it doesn´t lose itself in autonomous room, dedicated to the punk perhaps.
National Museum of Contemporary History
Slovenian history may not expand far into the past, but this fact makes it no less intriguing. A little sea of objects in the museum witness as a living reference book, next to photographs and documents from periods of the two world wars as well as before and after, with the permanent exhibition “Slovenes in the 20th century” nominated for the European Museum of the year award. The museum is housed at the baroque Cekin Castle, better known as preserved Knights’ Hall, a popular wedding place.
If you believe history consists only of bare facts, this specific museum will certainly persuade you to the contrary. Key events in Slovenian contemporary history come to life through objects with strong and sometimes touching significance. War and painful past is not trivialized by being a mere museum object but subtly recreated for a thoughtful and respectful view from a distance of modernity. The essence of the museum is perhaps in its relation to history since it´s not composed of events, but people instead. They are the real heroes of exhibitions, which absorb visitors completely, partly with helping hand of their interactive components.
The Old Power Station
The industrial past of the Old Power Station breathes synchronously with the local programme of events that embraces innovative and avant-garde goings-on of the contemporary theatre and dance productions. The building is protected as a cultural, technical, and historical monument and is one of the few places in Slovenia where culture and industry coexist at the same location, as a part of the city is still powered from the power station.
The quickly recognizable building made of red brick bears its cosmopolitan charm and can easily compete with contemporary architectural trends, which combine the legacy of industrialization and modern construction. Antique machinery displayed in the inner lobby cannot mask the fact they are much more than exhibits, as they define the whole space and give it the key character. The comfort of armchairs common for major theatres is not priority listed, wrapped in black the stage directs attention to where it´s headed first place: to the performance. All events share a fresh perspective on art and the desire to create something new and memorable, in the midst of commercial products of everyday life.
Mini Theatre Ljubljana
Mini theatre is an extraordinary production company since it resides at two exceptional places, the main city castle, and a small street in the old town, where knights of the Templars lived in their time. Two halls, two aspirations: first theatre, where quality theatre and music performances are staged and second theatre, aimed at the youngest drama devotees.
If Mini Theatre were a person, it would definitely be one of those rare individuals, with whom everyone falls in love. Both halls are special and immensely charming, each in its own way, although they can´t compete with larger institutions, modernity and comfort wise. Nevertheless, they do have a soul, and this soul loves the theatre. Hence, in the premises of Križevniška Street, there is a small living room near the hall, furnished with antique movables, covertly implying that one should cook some tea in the adjacent kitchen and stay a bit longer. The house, where the theatre lives, and the castle, from which puppets are peeking. Fairy tales for both large and small, first will find their own reality in them, and the others the world, in which it pays off to believe in.