To commemorate the 90th anniversary of its founding, the Museum of Fine Arts presents to the public, for the first time in exhibition format, a part of its rich photographic archival material. With a selection of more than 120 photographs, the Photographic Time Travel Through the Museum of Fine Arts, outlines the continuous activity of the museum, which has during this long period become an indispensable location for cultural and artistic promotion at the local and national level.
The exhibition is conceived as a visual journey through time, from the founding of the museum in 1931 and the first photographs of Dragutin Karlo Stühler that document the appearance of the museum and the artwork display in the then Gallery of Fine Arts of the Littoral Banovina located in the building in Lovretska Street. Photographs taken during the first two decades of the museum existence record changes in the display of artworks in the museum as a consequence of efforts to form and develop the museum collection. The period of the 1950s, 60s and 70s was marked by an intensification of exhibition activity, which is presented through a series of extremely interesting photographs of various exhibition openings and displays of temporary exhibitions, revealing a museum that has become a meeting place for an interested public, but also an active promoter of contemporary art. We continue time travelling through the late 1980s and 1990s during which the museum was closed to the public, through the reactivation in the late 1990s, as well as the process of adaptation, expansion and the eventual opening of the new museum in the so-called Old Hospital building where it still operates today. The dynamism and diversity of the museum’s work and programs – exhibitions, lectures, presentations, workshops, but also insight into the work of the restoration workshop which is less visible to the public and the preparation of exhibition programs, is presented with a series of photographs taken over the last two decades.
Today’s photo library of the Museum of Fine Arts contains almost six thousand digitized archival photographs and tens of thousands of digitally recorded photographs. In keeping with the museum’s mission aimed at the preservation of the museum holdings, much of the photographs are images of artworks that form part of the museum collections. However, photographs selected for this exhibition demonstrate another, no less important part of the museum’s work directed primarily at the communication of the museum as a living organism. Precisely for this reason, the Photographic Time Travel gives an account of the history and development of a museum on the one hand, and at the same time it also talks about people who left their mark, either as employees, collaborators, protagonists of the art scene in and around Split or as its loyal visitors. Of course, we must not forget the fact that these photographs bear witness to the display, but also their authors. The photographic material presented in this way can also serve as a testament to the work of a series of photographers in Split – from Dragutin Karlo Stühler, Josip Horkić, Andro Damjanić, Živko Bačić, Zvonimir Buljević to the recent collaborators like Zoran Alajbeg and Robert Matić. This also includes the currently unidentified authors of some of the photographs that remain as material for some future research.
Exhibition design: Viktor Popović