The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMSU), founded in 1948 as a Gallery of Fine Art, opened its door to visitors in the Governor Palace, then the City House of Culture. In 1956, it moved to the second floor of the University Library in Dolac Street, where it remained until 2017 when it again moves to a brand new building of ex-industrial complex Benčić. Apart from that premises, the Museum also manages mali salon Gallery at the Rijeka main street Korzo.
As a Gallery of Fine Arts and under the names that followed (Modern Gallery, Modern Gallery of Rijeka – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art), the museum has built the reputation of one of the most important and most prestigious visual arts institutions in Croatia. Due to the high quality of work, MMCA has been entrusted with the presentation of Croatian art and artists at prestigious international events such as the Venice Biennale (1997, Dalibor Martinis, 2007 Ivana Franke), the Biennial of Sao Paulo (2004 Zlatko Kopljar), 12th Venetian Biennale – International Architecture Exhibition 2010.
It was also entrusted with the organization of the Rijeka Salon (1954 – 1963), the presentation of Croatia at the Biennial of Young Artists of Europe and the Mediterranean (1993-1997), the Biennial of Young Artists of Yugoslavia (1960-1991), International Drawing Exhibition (1968 – 2013) and other projects.
The Museum participated in numerous international projects such as Culture of dopolavoro – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (European Social Fund, 2018-2020), Youth Council Benčić, Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture, Culture Program (2007-2013) and Creative Europe (2014-2020), X-OP Exchange of Art Operators and Producers, Soft Control, Password Printmaking, Risk Change, Anthology of Smuggling, Digitizing Contemporary Art (DCA) … It is a partner of many international institutions and artists.
1947 the Fine Arts Gallery is founded in Rijeka
1948 preparations for the opening of the Fine Arts Gallery in Rijeka; run by director Vilim Svečnjak, a painter
2 May 1949 – the opening of the Fine Arts Gallery at the second floor of Governor’s Palace (then City Culture Club; today the Historical and Naval Museum of Croatian Littoral); exhibition of the first Museum’s collection nucleus
1951 art historian Boris Vižintin is appointed the director and discharged the function until his death in 1988
1954 Salon 54, Exhibition of Contemporary Yugoslav Painting and Sculpting; Rijeka Salons held in 1956, 1959, 1961 and 1963
1956 relocation into Dolac 1 street, at the second floor of a renovated ex-school building, together with University Library and Culture Workers’ Club
1960 the first Youth Biennial; 16 Youth Biennial exhibitions were held until 1991; 3 International Biennials of the Young Mediterranean Artists were organized from 1993-1997
1962 institution changes the name into the Modern Gallery
1968 the first International Exhibition of the Original Drawing; 16 more were organized until 2001
1989 art historian Daina Glavočić is appointed the director and discharges the function until 1991
1990 Modern Gallery starts with the regular presentation of the Croatian Young Artists at International Biennials of Young Artists of Mediterranean and Europe; Marseille 1990, Valencia 1992, Lisbon 1994, Turin 1997, Rome 1999, Sarajevo 2001 and Athens 2003
1991 art historian Berislav Valušek is appointed the director and discharges the function until 1998
1998 art historian Ljubica Dujmović Kosovac is appointed the director and discharges the function until 2004
1999 institution changes the name into the Modern Gallery Rijeka – Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
2001 City of Rijeka invites tenders for an architectural project of reallocating T-building within the ex-factory (Rikard Benčić) complex into the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; the first award goes to a blueprint by Rijeka architects Saša Rendić and Idis Turato
2003 institution changes the name into the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art; elaboration of project documentation for the new Museum seat at the ex-factory T-object
2004 art historian Branko Franceschi is appointed the director
2009 historian and art historian Jerica Ziherl is appointed the director
2012 artist Slaven Tolj is appointed the director
2017 From September of that year, the MMCA moved to Krešimirova 26c to the H building of the former factory Rikard Benčić
Our space: We need it – we do it
The Museum moved to the postindustrial H building oft he Benčić ex-industrial complex in 2017. The building was renewed according to the project of architect Dinko Peračić. The long-awaited new space of the museum was realized according to the method and motto “we need it – we do it” elaborated and presented within the Croatian pavilion at the 15th Venice Biennial of Architecture in 2016. It was the project of the team of authors: Dinko Peračić and Miranda Veljacic (Platform 9, 81, Split), Emina Višnić (Pogon, Zagreb) and Slaven Tolj (MMCA, Rijeka).
It is basically the idea of an organic and phased “take-over” of the new space of the Museum, which begins with its work in new premises immediately after solving the most basic conditions, while the further development of the “emerging Museum” responds to the social impulses and needs of the community.
The historical continuity oft the former industrial complex of the Rikard Benčić, which also houses the Museum building, begins in the 18th century with the refinery of sugar. In the 19th century, it was converted into a tobacco factory, while after the Second World War production of ship parts began in its plants.
The so-called H building oft he complex, the building oft the Museum, was already in use during the first, sugar factory phase of the Rikard Benčić complex. The oldest historical layer of the building can be seen through the typically massive stairways and vaults on the ground floor.