Curator and writer Zdenka Badovinac, who was forced in December 2020 by Slovenia’s new right-wing government to leave her post as director of the Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, a post she had held since 1993, has been announced as the new director of the Museum of contemporary art in Zagreb. Art (USM). The news was first reported by the Croatian daily Jutarnji List, who noted that she beat all other candidates in an open call for nominations and later won the endorsement of Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević.
“I was very excited and honored when I heard the news,” Badovinac said in a statement posted on the Slovenian site. HRT. She went on to praise the institution as already having “one of the best collections in Central Europe”, noting: “I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues from the museum and from across the artistic and intellectual scene in Zagreb”.
Badovinac, who just before his dismissal from Moderna Galerija was reward the Igor Zabel Prize for his “outstanding […] contribution to Eastern Europe and to the history of world art”, is best known for his work in this institution, which, under his direction, became the most important and arguably the most progressive museum of the region. Dubbed “the house that Zdenka built” by the late Okwui Enwezor, Moderna Galerija, under the direction of Badovinac, assembled the first institutional collection of post-war avant-garde Eastern European art. Badovinac curated a number of groundbreaking exhibitions at the museum, including 1998’s ‘Body and the East: From the 1960s to the Present’, which traveled to Exit Art in New York, and ‘2000+ Arteast Collection: The Art of Eastern Europe in Dialogue with the West. She was Slovenian curator at the Venice Biennale from 1993 to 1997, returning to reprise her role there in 2005. In 2002, she was Austrian curator at the São Paulo Biennale; from 2005 to 2010, she sat on the board of directors of the International Committee of Museums and Collections of Modern Art before becoming its president, holding this position from 2011 to 2013.