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“Much improved and a pleasant place”

National Art Gallery
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Sofia Evening Panoramic Tour and Bulgarian Dinner Included
Ranked #48 of 206 things to do in Sofia
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Reviewed October 13, 2012

The ex-royal palace has been neglected for years. Of course it is no match to the grand palaces of the empires and kingdoms of Europe.But on the Balkans, it is something valuable. The staircase is rather impressive. The rooms are decorated in rococo style which I do not like in principle but this is my personal taste after all. As a museum, it is well organized and the building itself is renovated although the original architectural style is kept. After a visit there, go to the cafe at the back of the building which serves good tea and coffee in the peaceful garden with old trees--perfect on a hot day.
I was very glad that this renovated building opened with an exhibition of probably one of the best Bulgarian modern painters--Vladimir Dimitrov ( Maystora). His colorful paintings of village life ( especially his portraits of maidens) are one of my favourites and I think they may be of interest to foreigners as well.
The space of the gallery is very limited but at the moment a brand new museum of art is being built in the centre of Sofia, which will be enormous and which will present much more of Bulgarian artistic heritage.

1  Thank denizov
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 20, 2012

I have been visiting the National Art Gallery for 15 years or so. My last visit was a bit of a surprise as the whole gallery is currently taken up by a single exhibition of the early work of Vladimir Dimitrov - the Master.

There has obviously been quite a lot of work done on the interior of the gallery, but sadly the work (particularly the new floors) looks cheap and nasty and detracts from the quaint beauty of the old palace building. Nevertheless, it is really worth seeing the interior of the building for its own sake.

The current exhibition is fascinating - the paintings give a real insight into the early development of the artist and what appears to be a rather strange attitude towards women, religion and fruit. Rumour has it - but careful how you discuss this with Bulgarian art historians - that Dimitrov was homosexual, after seeing his work it would not surprise me if this is true. The downside of the exhibition was the ludicrous and pompous garbage written by the curators on the panels in each room. Goodness knows who these people are or who they are trying to impress, but they manage to spew out paragraphs of meaningless nonsense!

But go and enjoy the paintings, and enjoy the building! It is great to see the National Art Gallery making the effort to reinvent itself and I look forward to seeing continuing improvements.

1  Thank JamJul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 28, 2012

In this museum are paintings of famous Bulgarian artists. The ground floor has a gift shop with a very wide variety of souvenirs. In the garden of the museum is a great cocktail bar outside.

1  Thank Christos J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2012

Contains collections of multiple Bulgarian painters since 19 th century until today. All artworks are located thematically in the various halls of the former king's palace, which is a masterpiece of architecture and art of the past century. Visiting the Gallery one could enjoy the art and remain impressed by the work of the Bulgarian painters and sculptors. This is one of the famous places you have to see during your stay in Sofia.

6  Thank Dimitri777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2011

It may be a trivial point, but for me (and I imagine most other visitors from outside Bulgaria), the pleasure and excitement of looking at the pictures here depends on one's not knowing anything about the painters, their background, what they are supposed to have meant, the artistic context, etc. Consequently one is forced to look straight at the pictures and think for oneself what the painter may have meant, what one thinks of it, etc, rather than peering at a label, feeling one should admire a painting because it's famous, remembering that people who should know say such and such about it ("post-romantic", "Electra complex", etc), and suchlike. Here one has to make one's own mind up - e.g. on whether one's interested, what the painter felt and thought, ditto the sitter, whether they agreed, whether you agree, how such and such an effect has been achieved, and so on. As I say, extremely refreshing.

The works I'm talking about - mostly paintings, with some sculptures - are at the top of the marble stairs in the old palace. Mostly late nineteenth century and early twentieth. A bit of all sorts, but portraits particularly. They're kept in beautifully light, big, uncluttered, modern rooms, with seats and friendly attendants,

(I have a feeling there are other sections of the National Art Gallery in other buildings, with Mediaeval Art, Icons, and so on. If so I haven't been.)

A few feet away, at the other end of the same landing as the National Art Gallery, there's the National Ethnographic Museum, visiting which is AMAZING, thanks to a wonderfully courteous English-speaking guide, who explains about the three candles, the mistake, the fence, the dance, and the bunches. Absolutely unforgettable.

Downstairs, in the entrance lobby, there's the ticket desk (you can get tickets for both the museums or just one) and the Ethnographic Museum shop - excellent for decent-quality but not ruinously expensive souvenirs and presents.

2  Thank ELear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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