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The National Gallery for Foreign Art

The National Gallery for Foreign Art is a spacious gallery located on St Alexander Nevski Square in the capital city of Sofia and serves as the country's national institution for foreign (i.e. non-Bulgarian) art. It is housed in the imposing 19th-century Neoclassic edifice of the former Royal Printing Office built between 1882 and 1884 during the rule of Knyaz Alexander Batenberg after a project by Austrian architect F. Schwanberg.

The National Gallery for Foreign Art in Sofia is the only one of its kind on the Balkans. It holds a unique collection of Christian sculpture of the Indian province of Goa which can be found only in Portugal and Great Britain, the Poetic Reality collection which no other museum has to offer, etc.
The Gallery is unique with the character of its collection – the art of distant lands, of exotic tribes and nations, of old and new ages coexists with the modern European tendencies, with traditional and religious pictorial principles in the chronological span of a millennium.
The appearance of today’s gallery conforms entirely to the functions of a modern gallery, is the work of famous Bulgarian architects, artists, art historians.

The gallery was founded in 1985 as the art gallery of the St. Cyril and Methodius Foundation, its stock being collected by donations, as well as by the addition of the National Art Gallery's foreign art section. The history of the establishment of the museum was related to a decade of collection and organization activity in the 70s and 80s of the last century.
The gallery's permanent exposition features European, Asian (Buddhist, Japanese and Indian) and African art, as well as separate contemporary art and engraving sections.
Among the artists featured in the collection are Italian Renaissance painter Rosso Fiorentino, Dutch and Flemish artists Jan van Goyen, Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem, Isaac van Ostade, Frans Francken II, as well as Auguste Rodin, Ivan Meštrović, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Marc Chagall.
The most valuable exhibits of the Gallery funds are displayed on four floors, housed in 19 halls, with a total exhibition area of approximately 3,200 sqm. The Gallery holds over 10,000 museum items – graphic works, paintings, sculptures, fine arts.

The National Gallery for Foreign Art has at its disposal magnificent halls, contemporary multi-media equipment and other conveniences, very suitable for organizing different kinds of cultural, social and business enterprises.

Remarkable exhibitions

Indian miniature paintings
Originally, the miniature painting came into being as an element of the manuscript layout. Later, it took an important place within the structure of books and became an independent pictorial work with short text elements. The miniature was related to literature and therefore included text margins in its overall composition, even when in the 17th century the miniature was modified into a new form – the so called “album painting”.
In the Hindu artistic tradition, the miniature is a dynamic and actively developing genre. The first preserved specimens date back to the 10th—11th century and its recent top achievements have been made in the 19th century. It is divided into two groups differentiated by historical and territorial signs.
The first group comprises miniature paintings conveying the specific character of local culture.
The second group includes the miniature paintings of the School of Mongolia named after the powerful Mogolian Dynasty that made a conquest on India in the 16th century and established the Delhi Sultanate as a center of its empire.

Indian Sculpture
The main focus of this exposition is on the Hindu temple sculpture. For India it is a typical form of religious art aimed at creating a simple visual image of complex philosophical and mythological ideas. Besides, the intention was to create a strong expressive impact on the senses and emotions of the believers; some specific psychological adjustments and perceptions were impressed on them.
The displayed sculptures refer to the second rise of Hinduism which occurred on the Indian Peninsula within the period of 320 – 550.

Goa impressive collection
Goa is the name of an Indian State situated along the west coast of the peninsula. From ancient times to the mid 19th century the territory of Goa boosted the interest of conquerors and travellers, merchants and missionaries.
The Muslim Dynasties were particularly persistent in their attempts to conquer the rich province.

Graphic Collection of the National Gallery for Foreign Art

The graphic collection of the National Gallery for Foreign Art numbers several thousand items, mainly graphic prints, less drawings, watercolour paintings, and bibliophilic issues. The collection is, in the main, derived from two sources: the former foreign collection of the National Art Gallery and the fund of works purchased exclusively for the Gallery throughout a decade or so prior to its official opening in 1985. The European graphic school prevails in the collection, and of more limited scope is the art of USA, Latin America and Asia, except for two especially valuable collections of works of the traditional Japanese woodblock printing, Ukiyo-e, and Indian miniature paintings.
The fact that most works in the collection were brought together in the last decades of the 20th century when the classical values were generally distributed, and the lucky finds and accessible prices were increasingly rare occurrences, explains the prevailing number of works by contemporary authors.

Address: 1000 Sofia,
St.Aleksander Nevski Square,1, "19 february" str.

Entrance ticket

  • Individual visits:
  • Adults - 4.00 lv. two visits into 20 days
  • For school and university students - 2.00 lv.

  • Group visits:
  • For tourist Agencies - 3.00 lv.
  • Family tickets - 4.00 lv.

Taking pictures:

  • By a camera - 10.00 lv.
  • By a video-camera - 80.00 lv. /without using additional light/

Free entrance – Monday
Opening hours: 11:00-18.30 pm, excluding Tuesday

Official website of National Gallery of Foreign Arts

Bulgarian National Gallery for Foreign Art on the map of Sofia

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