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Gallery buildings history

With its rich history, Trnava is a powerful regional cultural centre and a seat of the Trnava Self Governing Region. There is a variety of cultural opportunities in Trnava (West Slovak Museum, Ján Palárik Theatre, St. Vojtech League, three universities and it is also a place where many international events take place, to mention just a few of them: Dobrofest, the vocal competition of M. Schneider-Trnavský, Trnava Organ Days, etc.). Moreover, Trnava was the first one to receive the Privilege of a Free Royal Town in 1238 and was also the first one to launch horse transport services whose line led from Bratislava to Trnava (1846). From the art historical point of view, Trnava reached its peak in the Middle Ages (it has one of the best preserved town fortifications and the Church of St. Nicholas and Church of St. Helen are also worth mentioning) and later on in Baroque of 17th and 18th centuries (the existence of the University of Trnava 1635 – 1777, the complex of university buildings with the Church of St. John the Baptist and other examples of this period, e.g. Holy Trinity Church, Church of St. Anne). For unique, quality and well-preserved historical monuments, the historical centre of the town was declared to be a heritage reserve (1987). Due to its many churches the seat of the Catholic Church in Slovakia, it is also called “Little Rome”. Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava along with Záhorie Gallery in Senica and the Gallery of Contemporary Hungarian Artists in Dunajská Streda make a needed background for developing fine arts culture in the region. In the post-war period, an important role has been played also by the town of Piešťany; let us mention just some of the activities: Piešťany Parks Sculpture 1967 – 1970, the International Painting Symposium in Moravany nad Váhom (since1967 – the oldest, still existing painting symposium in Slovakia). In addition, many significant Slovak artists of the 20th century come from the Trnava region (J. Koniarek, F. Štefunko, C. Majerník, F. Reichentál, E. Špitz, A. Klimo, J. Koller, A. Cepka, etc.)

in the context of the Jewish history in Trnava

From 1340 on, there are found references to Jewish community in Trnava. In 1494 were the Jewish people accused of ritual murder and as a consequence, 14 of them were burnt at a stake. The rest of them was banished from the town Trnava. The south gate, the one they went through when fleeing was walled up. The verdict of the town council interdictory to establishing the Jewish community in Trnava, was confirmed by Ferdinand I. (in 1533) and later by Leopold I. (in 1686).

In 1783 was this verdict annihilated by emperor Joseph II. In the run of the 19th century, the Jewish community in Trnava distended so much, that rabbi Simon Sidon decided to move his seat from Cifer (nearby village) to Trnava in 1855. In 1891 was the development of the synagogue building opened. The synagogue was finished and made accessible for religious purposes in 1897.

In 1950 was the building of the synagogue acquired by a company, which used it for the purpose of a storage house for small-wares and five floors and a service elevator were built within the interior space of the synagogue.

In 1978, the object of the synagogue was proposed to be added to the list of national cultural heritage. Later, in 1993, the gallery acquired and partly reconstructed the space for the exhibition purposes. The synagogue was opened for the presentation of contemporary art in January 1994. Since that time, exhibitions based on site-specific situation and special atmosphere are realised in this building, as well as various concerts and lectures.


Ján Koniarek Gallery was founded in 1976 under the name of the District Gallery with the seat in Trnava. It was the only centre of cultural and educational activities in the sphere of visual culture in the district. On the the occasion of the100th anniversary of birth of the sculptor Ján Koniarek, the founder of the modern Slovak sculpture, the gallery was renamed to Ján Koniarek District Gallery. Since 1984 it has been known as Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava, hereinafter referred to as the GJK). The gallery has undergone several changes and since 1 April 2002 its administrator has been the Trnava Self-Governing Region. The GJK was left without its own exhibition rooms for some time and it had to be opening exhibitions in different places in the region (often in cultural or community centres, cinemas, theatres or even factories located in Trnava, Piešťany, Hlohovec, Hrnčiarovce, Brestovany). Its exhibitions were often held in rented exhibition rooms at the West Slovak Museum in Trnava (1983 – 1991) and at the Small Gallery for Employees of the Atomic Power Plant in Jaslovské Bohunice (1981 – 1991). The Gallery acquired its own exhibition and administration building only after the change of social conditions. Today, the gallery owns three objects:
Koppel Villa, a new wing of the villa and the former Jewish Synagogue.
Koppel Villa in Zelený kríček 3 (street), is the gallery’s administration and exhibition centre. It is the late-Classicist building that underwent substantial reconstruction in 1910 – 1911 (its exhibition space is 678.7 m2). After the reconstruction (1990 – 93), the first exhibition opened there was the one titled 1+1+1=1 by Blažej Baláž. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Ján Koniarek’s passing away, the gallery opened the new wing of Koppel Villa (14th October 2002) which presents the Permanent Exhibition of Ján Koniarek´s Sculptural Works in the area of 312.3 m2. After the reconstruction of the new wing, two new permanent exhibitions were opened: The Treasure of Slovakia - Classic Slovak Art of the 20th century and Ján Koniarek – the founder of the Slovak Modern Sculpture.
The Synagogue – Centre of the Contemporary Art was renewed and adapted for exhibition purposes. On25 June 1994, the gallery started its exhibition activities in the former Jewish Synagogue, acquired in 1981. It is a unique space with two side aisles flanking the nave and a rectangular ending; the façade is dominated by two towers designed in the oriental – historicial way built in 1891 – 1897. The first exhibition shown there was A Journey by the Untitled artistic group (P. Meluzin, V. Oravec, M. Pagáč, J. Želibská).

Gallery history in dates:

1976 – setting up the District Gallery in Trnava
1978 – change of the gallery name to the District Jan Koniarek Gallery in Trnava on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the sculptor´s birthday (since 1984 – Jan Koniarek Gallery - GJK)
1983 – 1991 – periodic exhibitions in rented exhibition rooms in the West Slovakian Museum in Trnava
1992 – “Kopplova villa” (in Zelený kríček 3 Street) in Trnava was opened as the gallery seat
1994 – Synagogue – the Centre of Contemporary Art (in Halenárska 2 Street) was opened
2002 – opening of the permanent exposition of Jan Koniarek´s sculptural work in the new wing of the GJK “Kopplova villa”
2007 – publishing of the monograph of “Jan Koniarek – the Sculptor”
2007 – opening of the permanent exposition of “Klenoty domova” (Treasure of Slovakia) and gene-ral reinstallation of the exposition of Jan Koniarek´s work in the new wing of the “Kopplova villa”
2007 – first SKUTER - biennale of contemporary art
2008 – first Central European Art Festival

Directors of the Ján Koniarek Gallery in Trnava:

Vladimír Siváček 1. 6. 1976 – 30. 3. 1990 director
Priska Štubňová 1. 4. 1990 – 15. 6. 1990 responsible for managing
Jaroslav Formanko 15. 6. 1990 – 14. 9. 1992 director
Priska Štubňová 15. 9.1992 – 15. 7. 1993 responsible for managing
Priska Štubňová 15. 7. 1993 – 31. 3. 2002 director
Viera Jančeková 1. 4. 2002 – 6. 11. 2002 responsible for managing
Viera (Jančeková) Levitt 7. 11. 2002 – 30. 11. 2005 director
Vladimír Beskid 1. 12. 2005 – 28. 2. 2006 responsible for managing
Vladimír Beskid 1. 3. 2006 - 8.2.2011 director
Božena Brestovanská 9.2.2011 - 27.4.2011 responsible for managing
Jakub Slobodník 28.4.2011 - 11.4.2012 responsible for managing
Ľudmila Kasaj Poláčková 12.4.2012 - 31.8.2012 director
Jakub Slobodník 1.9.2012 -31.12.2012 responsible for managing
Róbert Němeček 2.1.2013 - 30.6.2018 director
Zuzana Dohnalová 1.7.2018 - 31.12.2018 responsible for managing
Vladimír Beskid from 1.1.2019 director


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