A look at MSU Zagreb in Croatia

Many say that there is little need to leave the comforts of Zagreb city centre: monuments, restaurants, bars and more than one retail store (I would recommend checking out any of Croatia’s many leather goods stores – unbelievable quality and not nearly as much as they cost in the UK). But, for those of you who fancy doing a little more wandering, head a mile up Dubrovnik Avenue and you’ll find MSU Zagreb, also known as The Museum of Contemporary Art.

MS Zagreb exterior

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Housing the biggest modern art collection in Croatia, MSU Zagreb was initially founded in 1954 under the name ‘City Gallery of Contemporary Art’. The small building was located in the Upper Town area and included the Centre for Photography, Film and Television and a museum library. However, due to a lack of space, the museum couldn’t exhibit many items at once and never had a permanent display.

Msu-zagreb-sculptures

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In the nineties, someone must’ve decided that it was time to give contemporary art the building it rightly deserved. Plans set out to have it built on the crossroads of Dubrovnik and Većeslav Holjevac in the Novi Zagreb district. Architect Igor Franić’s building design was then chosen out of 85 entries submitted in an open competition. The cornerstone for the new building was laid in November 2003, and the new museum finally opened on 11 December 2009.

Spread over several floors, MSU Zagreb aims to engage visitors of all ages, whether briefly on the ground floor with a minor exhibition space, restaurant, and multimedia hall; or in a lengthier fashion, with upper floors designed as vast open spaces combining the permanent and temporary exhibitions in a seamless way that almost makes them hard to distinguish.

msu zagreb car

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One thing that becomes apparent is that this new building is keen to compensate for the space it previously lacked in its original location. High ceilings, walls and extensive floorspace don’t only accomodate run-of-the-mill paintings: the ambitious design has given way to equally ambitious displays. Audio-sensory corridors, LED panels and overturned cars are just some of a few highlights, with some not being entirely obvious unless you look down from the highest flight of stairs to the floors below.

My favourite moment came when I realised that MSU Zagreb had one thing I’ve never seen in a museum before. It made such an impression that I now firmly believe that all museums should add them to their permanent collections.

The museum doesn’t only have one, but two multi-storey slides.

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I can’t explain the joy I felt when I saw a museum attendant standing in front of the smaller slide, asking if I wanted a mat in order to have a ride down. She had a bit of a go at me (in the most light-hearted way possible) for being too slow, but I finally got the hand of it after a few tries.

Sadly, the larger one was closed due to poor weather conditions. However, what I think we should all remember is that such thrills are only reserved for children under five, so getting a chance to just even go down one of them was a definite highlight of the day.

Check out more gallery snaps below and let me know in the comments or on Twitter if you’ve also tried out the slide or would like any more information.

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