As announced by Korčula Mayor Nika Silić Maroević, the lovely villa in Korčula town that was once owned by Croatian artist Maksimilijan Vanka is finally to be restored.
In 1935, Vanka moved to the US where he’s best remembered for painting the Millvale Murals in the St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church. The renowned painter and sculptor used to spend summers on Korčula island, where he founded an art colony and socialised with his fellow artists.
His former holiday home is known as one of the most beautiful villas in town, located near the monastery of St. Nicholas, reports Dubrovački vjesnik.
After Vanka’s death in 1963, his widow Margaret Stetten Vanka and daughter Peggy Vanka Brasko donated two houses in Korčula to the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU), along with 47 of Vanka’s artworks created in Korčula and the US.
The other, smaller villa donated to the HAZU by the Vanka family had a different fate. In the early 90s, it was transferred into private ownership and has been sold since.
The bigger villa, now to be restored, used to house the Memorial Collection of Maksimilijan Vanka. Due to poor conditions in the villa, the art collection was moved to Zagreb and is currently kept at the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters.
Two years ago, it was announced that the entire collection will be restored, with funds secured by the Society of Maksilimijan Vanka’s Friends from the US. Once the restoration is completed, the artworks should be moved back to Korčula, but it’s not yet known when this is supposed to take place.
Renovation of the villa should have started two years ago when the president of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) signed a cooperation agreement with the then Mayor of Korčula, providing for the renovation, reconstruction and adaptation of Villa Vanka and the restoration and return of Vanka’s art collection to Korčula.
Unfortunately, the global pandemic began shortly after the agreement was signed, so the plans had to be put on hold for a while.
‘In the meantime, potential investors expressed certain interests that the HAZU approved as well, so we will amend the existing agreement a bit in order to further define certain details’, announced Mayor Silić Maroević.
Amendments to the agreement mainly relate to the catering business conducted in the villa, which proved not to be a good decision in the past, according to the mayor. Ten years ago, the gallery was renovated, but not in a dignified manner, she pointed out, and part of the gallery was leased by a catering business, which isn’t acceptable to the City of Korčula or the HAZU.
Villa Vanka will now be renovated and used exclusively as a gallery, the only exception being the lower part of the warehouse which might eventually be leased out for service activities. This will be defined by the new agreement, said Mayor Silić Maroević.
Although Korčula boasts incredible cultural heritage and numerous acclaimed artists, the town sorely lacks gallery spaces. This is yet another reason why everyone’s looking forward to the renovation of Villa Vanka, with the new gallery seen as a crucial venue for the cultural life in Korčula.