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THE PERMANENT

DISPLAY

The Ivan Mestrovic Gallery in Split was closed for the public for many years, partially because it was rather dilapidated and partially because of the Croatian Independence War. After extensive renovation works, the New Permanent Display was mounted and its ceremonious opening took place on 18th May 1998 - the International Museum Day. The Gallery houses and exhibits most of the sculptor’s works within its permanent display, but the building itself is an artistic monument. Its author Ivan Mestrovic designed the palace less as an exhibition space for displaying his work and more as his family’s home and his atelier. Therefore, the museological concept and the display plan for the building respected the given space, except for several necessary interventions. Following the character of the halls, rooms, and interspaces, the authors of the display worked along the lines set by those idiosyncratic, mostly thematic units. The supervisor of the renovation programme and the project for the New Permanent Display of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery in Split was Guido Quien, the head of the Ivan Mestrovic Foundation between 1994 and 2003.

 

The architect Vinko Peracic carried out the interior design and the permanent display plans following the basic guidelines set by the spatial design concept of the architect Ivica Prtenjak, who had previously drawn up plans for the reconstruction of the building, with the expert help of Barbara Kovacic-Domancic (a curator of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery between 1983 and 1992). Architect Peracic conceived his project taking into account the basic museological concept of the display, elaborated by Guido Quien and Bozo Majstorovic (a curator of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery between 1993 and 1998) in collaboration with Iris Slade (a curator of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery between 1996 and 1999).

Consequently, the existing display is a result of a fruitful cooperation of art historians and an architect and, therefore, seems especially sensitive to Mestrovic's expressiveness and respects the already existing character of the place. The mission of the display is to find the appropriate arrangement which could emphasise the fullness of each exhibit and offer a more modern and more plastic interpretation of the forms shaped by a great sculptor. The permanent display follows the basic spatial and thematic guidelines. The central hall on the ground floor was turned into a representative entering space. It houses mostly marble sculptures, corresponding with the stone façade. The dining room kept the authentic character of the artist's home: Mestrovic's furniture, several paintings, and bronze portraits of the family members are exhibited there. The great exhibition hall on the east side of the ground floor is dedicated to sacral sculpture, an important feature of Mestrovic’s art. The hall is dominated by wooden figures of Adam and Eve and a special place in the sacral display is given to the monumental sculpture Pieta. That figural composition is the only plaster exhibit in the hall.

Upstairs, the west wing hall is dedicated to the “early Mestrovic”, i.e. his creative work of the secession period. The east hall houses sculptures made mostly between the two World Wars. Another very interesting area is a special room dedicated to the theme of Job. The big central hall on the first floor is the hall of sculpture, but occasional cultural happenings in the Gallery also take place there. The permanent sculptural display of the first floor is complemented by the corresponding drawings, also made by Mestrovic. In total, the Gallery houses 86 sculptures and reliefs in marble, bronze, or wood, 3 oil paintings, and 15 drawings. Another 8 bronze sculptures are exhibited in the park in front of the building and 2 sculptures and 28 wooden reliefs are placed in the Kastelet area. The suggested tour of the permanent display starts with an introductory walk through the sculpture park, followed by the entrance into the Gallery through the representative ground-floor hall and a tour of the space with dynamically alternating thematic units; your visit to the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery ends on the terrace with a panoramic view of the sea and the islands before Split. Briefly, the permanent display offers a complete experience of Mestrovic's art in the Mediterranean landscape.

 
     
    Copyright (c) 2003. MDC, design NOVENA