Gallery for Foreign Art
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20 Years old this year, the National Gallery for Foreign Art is one of Sofia's most prestigious cultural institutions. Housed in a beautiful neo-classical building on Nevsky Square, the gallery houses both ancient and contemporary art, with particular emphasis on Indian, Japanese, Buddhist, and African work. If you're planning a visit then we advise writing off a whole day to do so, as the gallery is spread over three halls and eighteen halls - an impressive (but never boring) 4000 metres in total!
Editor & Sofia Local
I wrote something in 2006 and was surprised there was nothing on this site since 2010! I admit your are dull as mud but let's get this straight--it's a beautiful museum and there could be a lot of fun and profit in it if the staff could "get a life" and Interact in a friendly positive way with their guests (read: customers). Instead the custodians are dull and blah, more like secret police than informed museum personnel. From evidence of this website alone, I am amazed and disappointed--there have been no comments for 2011, and for six months of 2012? You museum people are zombies: I toured Sofia and then Greece to see Byzantine Orthodox chapels and monasteries. Still, I enjoyed your museum, thanks to myself, not you.
I wrote a complaint of your national lacks on July 2012 that was dated by your idiots as 10/10. Previously I had written a message dated 3/2oo7, which was dated by you as 8/10. Can't you get anything right? Oh, by the way, can you ask former president Zhikov's daughter where she got the painting that is called Elizabeth I of England? Both I and other international experts think the painting is of lady Lettice Knollys. It would be of GREAT help if your people could provide some sort of honest provenance.
Watchfully waiting, with great enthusiasm, for a truthful ansswer.
An under-appreciated museum, it's full of art from around the world. I especially enjoyed the Paris between wars exhibition.
Really brilliant gallery, if you can manage to ignore the staff - which I found much easier to do once I really started paying attention to the details of some works. Brilliant!
I visited last week (2/12). Although Sunday, weather fine, and plenty of people around the city, it was very quite inside in the main gallery, so yes the staff presence became a bit noticeable. But on top floor it was buzzing at the special exhibition of photographs from 1960s taken by Lawrence Schiller - Kennedys at key moments and others, plus one room devoted mostly to a famous swimming pool shoot of Marilyn Monroe, without costume. Good info notes including one from Norman Mailer. Definitely worth the 4 leva entrance charge.
I just visited the gallery and discovered that the collection is the result of Lyudmilla Shukova's activities, daughter to the former communist leader of the country. An art historian, and a big political figure in the 70s and 80s, she had state funds to buy the collection in a very short period, for her "Museum of World Cultures". That explains its rather eclectic character. Unique highlights are the Christian wooden sculptures from Goa, while the the Japanese prints are nowhere else on show in these amounts. The museum currently has grave problems, both in staffing and financially - hence the no doubt awkward experiences of some visitors. This collection, the institution and their visitors truly deserve a better fate!
I echo what Stephen from Ireland wrote. Being shadowed by suspicious gallery staff (one actually running after me!) is neither a pleasant nor an acceptable experience. Also, the absence of a printed gallery guide or any reasonable documentation in English significantly limits one's enjoyment. And when I enquired about the Russian rooms, the member of staff looked unconcerned, couldn't initially answer the question and returned to reading a newspaper -- before calling after me to say that the room was closed. On a more positive note, I too, like Albert from Atlanta, had spotted the striking portrait of Elizabeth I (which I'm trying to learn more about). Again, when I was examining it closely (noticing that the title ELIZABETH REGINA had been painted over), a member of staff stared at me as if I was about to snatch the painting and run off. A curious experience overall, as elsewhere, all other Bulgarians were most helpful and friendly!
I wanted to love this gallery, I really did. It has a lot going for it - beautiful location & building, central location. The collection is very eclectic, and thats not a bad thing.
My biggest concern was the rather intrusive staff (who were, how shall i put this .. a bit gruff?) - by International standards, they really let the place down. I was actually shadowed by gallery staff thoughout my entire visit - and this frsnkly, is not acceptable. You can't enjoy the experience of browsing the collection with a grumpy gallery staff barking at you in Bulgarian.
Do yourself a favour - save your Lev (or whatever your local currency might be) & fly to London/New York/Chigago & see how it really should be done. A pity really ...
I visited Sofia in September 2006 and saw the museum. I was impressed by the building and the collection.
One portrait that I recall was of Queen Elizabeth I of England, which shows the queen as a beautiful red-haired woman. Do you have history of this painting and how it came to Bulgaria? I ask because it seemed to me that it was not the queen, who was very thin with a high nose, but perhaps her cousin and enemy, Lady Lettice Knollys, a famous beauty who married the queen's lover, Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. By an earlier marriage, Lettice was mother to Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex (who also became the queen's lover, much later, then was beheaded) and also mother to Lady Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich. Lady Penelope was the mysterious "Stella" that Sir Philip Sidney wrote his love poems to. Lady Penelope was also a famous beauty and her portrait shows her resembling very much your picture of "queen Elizabeth". If your portrait is truly of Lettice Knollys, it may be even more rare and valuable, as there are hundreds of portraits and copies of the Queen, but few of Lettice Knollys. Lettice was granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, sister of Queen Anne Boleyn, who was mother of Queen Elizabeth.
I am historian at Jimmy Carter Library & Museum in Atlanta, USA, and I much enjoyed historic Sofia.
mon grand-père Antoine BARBIER a été peintre décorateur officiel du tsar de Blgarie. Savez-vous s'il y a des toiles, aquarelles ou fresques de lui dans votre belle capitale?