The Slovakian city of Kosice has culture running through its veins. From traditional galleries to refurbished factories and army barracks, the second largest city in the country is bursting at the seams with creative flare and artistic gems. Kosice’s love for all things art isn’t confined inside four walls. Take a city stroll and you’re bound to come across impressive street art. Whether its medieval artefacts you’re into or modernism, this undiscovered artist’s paradise is most definitely a sight for sore eyes. Here are some of the best galleries and exhibitions of the Kosice art scene.
Plastered on the sides of numerous apartment blocks and other buildings around the city, the award-winning street art of Kosice is definitely something to write home about. All form part of the Open Mural Gallery, an outdoor exhibition of wall paintings created by muralists ranging in style from contemporary modern to ancient art. The concept gallery has a collection of around 24 murals and aims primarily to increase the aesthetic value of public spaces. The gallery has high hopes that this will naturally lead to reduced levels of visual smog and raise cultural awareness among Kosice locals.
The Eastern Slovak Gallery, located in the heart of the old town, is guaranteed to satisfy your inner art critic. Not only does the space give an overview of the traditional art of Eastern Slovakia but it also presents the work of local and international contemporary artists. Plan your visit around one of the gallery’s must-see exhibitions which usually showcase modernism – an important period of art in Kosice during the start of the 20th century. Currently holding a collection of over 7,000 works spanning across the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, this gallery is a stronghold in the city’s creative community. Curators and founders of the exhibition space aim to protect and present art works reflecting artistic life in Eastern Slovakia. If you get the chance, be sure to explore the huge underground chambers and their statues.
A swimming pool in its former life, the iconic structure was closed to the public in the 1980s and left for dead until 2013 when a cultural revival swept through the city. Following the European Capital of Culture project and the debate that came with it, the disused pool underwent a facelift and is now one of the most important creative centres in Kosice and the first Kunsthalle in Slovakia. Hosting numerous alternative contemporary art exhibitions on a regular basis, this is the location where the massive installation is set up as part of the annual Nuit Blanche festival on the night before the world famous Kosice Peace Marathon.
Just off the main promenade, UL’UV is the local centre for folk art production where anyone can come and spend some time learning the traditional ways of Slovakian crafting. Join a class and take part in weaving, pottery, painting, wood work or try your hand sitting at the loom. The centre aims to promote and preserve craft production in the city using the techniques of their ancestors. Holding regular exhibitions in their upstairs showroom, festivals and presentations, the building is always a hive of activity. Spend the morning learning the ways of the traditional artist and enjoy the community atmosphere oozing from the walls of the centre.
The former army barracks turned culture plaza was the largest of the regeneration projects during 2013 when the city was awarded the title of European Capital of Culture. The award-winning creative venue and conference centre is used as a platform for cultural, artistic and social events, boasting a large gallery space inside the main building. The gallery regularly shows the best of art in Kosice as well as international exhibits open to the public. Full of studios and workshop spaces, the park is a regular hangout for locals and a great place to visit to authentically experience the art scene in Kosice.
Another of the city’s community initiatives and driving the Kosice art scene, the reincarnated tobacco factory is breathing life back into the area. Tabacka Kulturfabrick is the largest independent cultural centre in Slovakia. Hosting multiple events and festivals throughout the year, the centre regularly invites artists from all over the world to share their work with residents. The outside year is covered from the ground up with graffiti and other abandoned artefacts such as cars and bicycles, setting the urban edgy scene before you even walk in the door. Pretty much everything inside is a work of art in itself with the bistro décor, the black box and interchangeable performance spaces. This spot is well worth a visit and definitely one of the best places to see art in Kosice.
Created by the civic association, BIIIF, SOPA focuses on the presentation of Slovak and international contemporary visual art. Alongside its exhibitions, the gallery runs an education programme which features guided tours, workshops and a series of lectures on what’s trending in the cultural space. A great one for adults and children alike, SOPA is a must-see when visiting the city.
Exploring Kosice soon? Make sure to use the hashtag #ryanairstories and #visitkosice to tag us in your photos of the Kosice art scene – you might even be featured on Ryanair’s Instagram feed!
Flights to Kosice from Southend
- Lucy Norris