The story of the Nedbalka Gallery began with a collecting passion and a vision the realisation of which turned the impossible into reality. The initiative of philanthropists Miloslava and Peter Paško and Artúr Bartoška focused on a promotion of Slovak visual culture resulted in a unique, unparallel project, the establishment of a stable institution providing the broad public with access to a private collection of Slovak fine art.
The collection of works was built within an extremely short period of time. Today it may seem almost impossible to build a collection containing such a large number of high-quality works outlining crucial phases in the development of Slovak fine art. It was truly a Sisyphean task to acquire works of all the crucial artists who could not have been omitted in the collection.Thanks to an art collector Artúr Bartoška, the paintings and sculptures have been purchased on a regular basis. The collection grew rapidly and it was necessary to find appropriate exhibition premises
The collection grew rapidly and it was necessary to find appropriate exhibition premises. And here again it turned out that the Nedbalka Gallery was born under a lucky star. There is no doubt that the builder Maroš Búci discovered the best possible premises in a historic centre of the town. The extensive reconstruction of outwardly undistinguished building fulfilled visions of the new owner to the nicety. During the reconstruction, noble materials and state-of-the-art technologies meeting the current requirements concerning the preservation and display of artefacts were used. The Gallery opened its gate to the public in October 2012. Since then, it has been attended by over 60,000 domestic and foreign visitors.
The architectural solution of the Nedbalka Gallery resembles the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York, which is also the reason why it is being called “Slovak Guggenheim”. The concept of the permanent exposition was developed by art historian Zsófia Kiss-Szemán, who also curated the first exhibition of Stanislav Filko. The emphasis was put on an appropriate presentation of artworks. New frames were provided by a renowned family company based in Prague, Rámařství Brůžek. Restoration and conservation works were in charge of Svetlana Ilavská. A timeless design, visual elements and marketing communication was provided by Calder, which also took charge of the publication of the initiation book on Gallery´s permanent exposition. The Gallery succeeded in building a good personnel background.
From the very beginning, the Nedbalka Gallery has also mounted temporary exhibitions presenting works from its extensive collection containing about 1,000 works of art. The information on individual works of art is available in numerous publications and on Gallery´s website. Some of them have been analysed in more detail as works of the month. Besides, the Gallery also organises popular exhibitions of contemporary Slovak visual artists on a regular basis; until now it has organised thirty presentations. Since 2013 the Galley has hosted the annual competition Painting – VUB Foundation Award for Young Artists. The most successful exhibitions in terms of the attendance were those of Mária Medvecká (2015) and Albín Brunovský (2017). The Nedbalka Gallery also took part in the festivals of contemporary art, such as Sculpture and Object or White Night 2015 (1,500 people visited Gallery during one night). The exhibition projects are in charge of external collaborators, be it curators or writers of texts for exhibition catalogues and monographs on individual artists.
Every time I come here, I’m happy. Peter Paško
One of the main goals of the Gallery is to present Slovak visual art and promote Slovakia as the country with a rich art culture. The primary target group of the Gallery includes viewers from Bratislava and foreign visitors, notably from Anglo-American countries, young people, school groups and children. Apart from popular guided tours and lectures on art the Gallery also organises concerts of classical music. In 2014 it participated in placing Juraj Rusňák´s statue Motherhood, the gift of Mr and Mrs Paško, to Slubek´s garden in Bratislava. It also financed the restoration of sculptor´s works situated in the premises of Bratislava main railway station.
During five years of its existence, the Nedbalka Gallery also continued in acquisition activities, extending its collection to include many first-rate works of artists represented in the permanent exposition, such as Ladislav Mednánszky, Dominik Skutecký, Martin Benka, Rudolf Krivoš, Endre Nemes, Rudolf Fila, Viera Žilinčanová, Michal Jakabčič. A remarkable set of works resulted from the purchase of works by a lesser-known sculptor Juraj Rusňák whose older statues were cast in bronze with the participation of the artist himself. The gallery also managed to acquire large sets of works by artists, such as Koloman Sokol and Ľudovít Fulla, precious works from the 1960s by the artists such as Miloš Urbásek or Alex Mlynárčik. A remarkable acqusition can also be cosidered the purchase of paintings from the estate of Milan Paštéka. From among the young artists, the collection was enriched with works by Ašot Haas, Lucia Dovičáková, Dorota Sadovská etc.
The Nedbalka Gallery has recently considerably enhanced its marketing strategies. It is communicating with visitors through social media and means of mass media communication, cooperates with travel portals (TripAdvisor) and local partners (Bratislava Tourist Board, City Life, Kam v Bratislave). The information on its activities can be found within the Google Arts & Culture (Google Art Project) as well as in Wikipedia. The Gallery also uses the latest technologies; the visitors can discover its collection with tablet app “image recognition”. In its first five years of existence, the Gallery focused on establishing its reputation. It cooperates with similar institutions and works from its collection can be seen as loans in various exhibitions. The activities of the Gallery are financed from private resources of Peter Paško and from income from admission fees, sale of publications and commercial rentals. The Gallery has also been very successful in applying for public resources, subsidies and grants.