120 artworks on the second floor


The exhibition is an attempt to document the reconstruction of the first (permanent) exhibition of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, then the Gallery of Fine Arts, which was presented to the public by an open exhibition on May 2, 1949, at the then Central House of Culture (Governor’s Palace) in honor of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Communist party of Yugoslavia.

The Initiative for the Opening of the Gallery of Fine Arts appeared immediately after the liberation of Rijeka in 1945. For that purpose,  the collecting of the material began.

As the official date of the founding of the Gallery, January 1st 1948 was recorded, although the Gallery is mentioned earlier in the documentation. The exhibition of the first permanent exhibition, whose 70th anniversary is marked by the exhibition “120 artworks on the second floor”, was curated by the then director Vilim Svečnjak.

As the exhibition’s name in the Mali salon reveals, the first exhibition of the permanent collection of the Gallery of Fine Arts was placed on the second floor of the Central Cultural Center in its eastern part of the 300-square-meter exhibition space. The setting was chronologically and thematically divided into eight rooms: anteroom, balcony, five rooms, and corridor. In the gallery hall were “old” paintings and drawings “unmarked” by unknown authors. There followed a room with graphics and drawings on the topic of National Liberation Fighting and Reconstruction of the Country and two rooms with works from the 19th century, while on the balcony, in the corridor and in two other rooms were exhibited works from the 20th century.

Both centuries are represented by works from collections and borrowed works from various fields of art; paintings, sculptures, drawings and graphics, with various artistic motifs: landscapes, portraits, artwork, genre-scenes, dead nature …

The exhibition “120 artworks on the second floor” informs the audience of the historical moment of the establishment and opening of the Gallery, the forerunner of today’s Museum. It does this through documentary materials and art that were then presented at the exhibition and today make up the nucleus of the MMSU collection.


The curator of the exhibition is Diana Zrilić, head of the Documentation Department of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Photo: Gallery of Fine Arts – Rijeka; Look at the hall of the XX century