Art Gallery Opened in Split Hospital, Named after Architect Who Designed the Building

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Romana Jadrijevic Lozancic / KBC Split
Romana Jadrijevic Lozancic / KBC Split

It’s not every day that you hear about public medical institutions introducing art into their spaces, but the Clinical Hospital Center (KBC) in Firule, Split did just that by establishing a gallery in its central building.

The Zoja Dumengjić Gallery, named after the architect who designed the hospital complex in Firule, was opened at the ground floor of the central building of KBC Split on February 14th. As reported by Vizkultura, this was a joint project of the Croatian Association of Visual Artists Split (HULU Split) and the KBC Split. The initiative originates from the 41st Split Salon, named Not Completely Lost for Each Other and curated by Ivana Meštrov in collaboration with Ana Janevski.

Bolnica-Firule_Foto-Sonja-Lebos-2019-1200x900.jpgFirule Hospital / Image by Sonja Leboš, UIII Archive

The newly established gallery is introducing itself to the public with its first exhibition, named Retropolis. It’s a project of the Association for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Research (UIII), presented by visual anthropologist and ethnologist Sonja Leboš and visual artists Stella Leboš and Luana Lojić.

Retropolis is dedicated to Dumengjić, the famous architect and designer of the Firule general hospital in Split that opened in 1951.

‘The gallery will be modular and fluid, without a permanent location within the Clinical Hospital Center, and adaptable to the nature and diversity of media featured in contemporary art. However, the Zoja Dumengjić Gallery project is permanent in terms of its long-term intention. Such positive collaborations are truly rare, even in international terms, and make us especially happy as artists’, explained President of HULU Split Vice Tomasović.

Zoja Dumengjić (1904-2000) worked as a designer at the Institute of Hygiene and the School of Public Health in the 1930s, where she specialised in healthcare facilities and was largely inspired by those designed by the renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

zoja5-1-1024x893.jpgZoja Dumengjić / Archives of Zoja and Selimir Dumengjić

Dumengjić’s work wasn’t entirely unrecognised during her long and prolific career: she won the Viktor Kovačić Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979, and received the Charter of the Split General Hospital in 1984 for her outstanding contribution to the development of the Firule hospital.

Directly inspired by the work of Zoja Dumengjić, the artworks that were displayed at the 41st Split Salon point to the importance of universally accessible architectural design for health. This principle is engrained in the very idea that led to the gallery being established in KBC Split in the first place.

‘I believe that the Zoja Dumengjić Gallery, in cooperation with HULU Split, will operate creatively and achieve long-term success within the KBC; that it will continuously strengthen Zoja Dumengjić’s vision of architecture and visual arts in the service of health, but also make our patients and healthcare staff more familiar with the life and work of the architect who designed the Split hospital. I am especially glad that the gallery’s opening on the eve of the KBC Split Day which marks the merging of Firule, Križine and Toplice facilities into a joint institution’, said Dr. Julije Meštrović, director of KBC Split.


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