One of the main things Belgrade is known and famous for is its crazy and vibrant nightlife. No matter where you decide to go out, if in the center or on one of the many barges spread along the river Danube, it is guaranteed that you’ll have a great time partying till morning. That sounds very exciting, but not being a big ‘party animals’ ourselves, we thought there was more than that to enjoy and to discover in Belgrade.
As usual we went hunting for some modern art despite the discouragement by the guy at the info center that told us there was not much to be seen (which I have to disagree with), only on arriving at the museum would I understand his objection.
After a long but pleasant walk, we find ourselves in New Belgrade, on the left bank of the river Sava where the Museum of Contemporary Art was supposed to be. The whole area looked very quiet, there were only a few people jogging along the river side and all the barges were closed (understandably considering it was only early afternoon).
Following Dale’s map directions (which so far have never gotten us lost, but, as I always say, never say never!) we saw a lonely grayish building from the back so, since we couldn’t see anything else in the area close by, we walked around to the front with a skeptical look on our faces. To our surprise, this was the Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art, bingo!
We couldn’t quite understand if it was open or not, to us it looked deserted, abandoned and left to itself. Our curiosity pushed us to try to get in as the door wasn’t shut and there were few people inside. On entering, it all seemed very unusual and odd. The building itself, even after a quick look inside, looked more like a big warehouse than a museum. That didn’t stop us from exploring, it actually made us even more inquisitive.
By walking around we saw that almost every room looked empty, inhabited, there were signs of some old ‘stuff’ which we couldn’t understand if it was part of an exhibition (you never know what modern/contemporary art can be) or if they had just been left there. There also were some uncompleted construction works, holes in the walls, left utensils, very dusty furniture, some half finished wall paintings every now and then, but mainly just big vacant rooms.
Why would you keep a museum open without any piece of art in it?
We couldn’t quite understand. Only after going back to the first floor we started to put pieces together and eventually everything made sense.
There actually was an exhibition on called ‘What Happened to the Museum of Contemporary Art?’ – which unfortunately finished at the end of September.
This project declares itself a non-exhibition because in reality it isn’t possible to organize one in a such non functional building.
In fact the museum has been closed to the public for 5 years due to reconstructions works. Apparently the funds were cut off after the first year of works and the building has been left in that way since, unfinished and starting to look like a ‘ghost structure’. This non-exhibition came from the frustration and the worries built up for the future of the museum.
By looking through the timeline displayed on the first floor which shows documents, information, articles and pictures about the reconstruction works and the debate around them being stopped, the exhibition becomes clear.
The rest of the project counts on the state of the building itself as testimonial of its decay. Without getting too much political, this non-exhibition project looked to me like a form of protest and a way to scream out loud about the need of having a space where modern/contemporary art can be displayed.
Admission: Free entry
Location address & map –
Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade
Usce 10, Block 15
11070 New Belgrade, Serbia
View Belgrade’s Museum of Contemporary Art in a larger map
Needless to say that I very much enjoyed it, the message was straight to the point and very clear.
Seeing such a big structure like that in such a state made my heart shrank. Such a shame!