Museum of Naive and Marginal Art – The Centre of Naive Art in Serbia

Thinking about visiting the Museum of Naive and Marginal Art (Muzej Naivne i Marginalne Umetnosti) in Belgrade? Read on to follow our complete experience of visiting this fascinating museum.

Starting from how we got there:

Getting to Museum of Naive and Marginal Art

We crossed the only bridge in Belgrade over the Danube River – the old metal, heavy thing built in 1935.  

Once on the other side of Belgrade we continued towards Pancevo city, well known for its accident-prone factories which sometimes pollute the whole of Belgrade.

As it was Sunday, the day for the local antiques market, we couldn’t resist stopping for a quick browse for a “good deal”. We didn’t get anything except an old CD for 50p which worked until song number four. Regardless, we considered it a good deal.

Crossing the Danube River means entering the flat Pannonia Plain where you orientate yourself only by the next tree or lonely house. Considering that the official alphabet in Serbia is Cyrillic and that road signs are rare then that tree or house takes on more importance during your journey.

Nature at this time of year (May) generously painted everything in a lush green cloaking the trees and houses from sight. Everything looked the same especially for four city girls.

Confused and tired by the oppressive heat we decided to stop along the way at Salas, called Sekin Salas which means Sisters Ranch. If you want to experience the real Serbia you should try to stay at one of the many ranches which offer a combination of rural Serbia with good food, clean air and lots of activities – horse riding, fishing, cooking classes…embroidery classes…

During our hour stop we managed to meet the loveable Rasha, a ginger corgi who we considered stealing away, but after realising that Rasha has friends on the Ranch – three cats, two goats, a pheasant, an over-protective chicken with eight yellow chicks and two more dogs lazily asleep in the front garden – we decided that Rasha had a better life than we did, so we left him in his natural surroundings.

After refreshments and taking photos of everything that represented the old, disappearing Serbia that was so generously on display in the house, we continued driving towards Kovacica, a place well known for its Slovak naive art.

The Museum of Naive and Marginal Art is situated centrally on the main street. 

Panorama of Belgrade at night with river sava
Panorama of Belgrade at night with River Sava – depositphotos.com

See also Places to Visit in Belgrade.

Visiting the Museum of Naive and Marginal Art in Belgrade

The Museum itself is very small but very rich in the numbers of paintings they own so the exhibition keeps changing all the time. The first one to strike you is a huge, colourful and lively painting by Jan Glozik illustrating the 200 years since the Slovak people moved from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the eastern border, nowadays Serbia, by order of the Emperor. The painting consists of 200 people representing each year since they moved to this part of the world. If you have a very good eye you can see a self-portrait of the painter incorporated into the maze of colours.

The left side of the museum has an exhibition of another famous naïve art painter, Martin Janos, whose paintings emphasise the hands and feet and thereby the hard manual work on the farms of the region.

The third room is dedicated to the Queen of naïve art, Zuzana Halupova. There are 31 paintings exhibited here, most of them oil on canvas. She, as with Martin Janos, has a leitmotif which is that each painting has a girl in a pink skirt somewhere in it. Zuzana never had kids of her own and so she put one in every one of her paintings. She was member of the children’s charity UNICEF and in 1974 she painted the UNICEF Christmas Card which was sold worldwide.  She left more than 1000 paintings to the museum but due to the lack of the space only a certain number can be shown.

There are talks about a new, bigger Museum to be opened in a different location.

Outside the Museum there is a courtyard with three galleries, in one of them you can have your own portrait painted. All the galleries are run by local painters who can tell you about local life and how they have preserved their culture and traditions for over 200 years. Mr Pavel Babka, a successful painter who exhibits all around the world and is the owner of the largest gallery, pointed out that even when a painter becomes worldwide successful, he still stays in Kovacica, within very strong Slovak Community.

Museum of Naive and Marginal Art
Museum of Naive and Marginal Art

Learn more about the current exhibitions on their website.


Top Places to Visit in Belgrade, Serbia

Over the past few years the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, has become increasingly popular with visitors who want to get a real taste of the Balkans.

Unfortunately there are not many guide books which cover this amazing city which makes it a bit difficult to plan a trip in advance and know which places to visit in Belgrade.

Over the past five years I have spent quite a few months in Belgrade and if I had to come up with the five best things to check out for a first time visitor it would look something like this:

Places to visit in Belgrade, Serbia
View of Belgrade city from Danube river – depositphotos.com

Places to visit in Belgrade

Here are the best types of places to visit in Belgrade!

A Café

Belgraders love going for a coffee. You will find cafés on every corner and they are always packed with people. “Going for a coffee” can easily mean sitting around for a few hours, chatting with friends, watching passers-by and being watched.

Check out the various places on the central pedestrian Knez Mihailova street, the beautiful art-deco Hotel Moskva (Terazije 20), the distinctly 19th century “Ruski Car” (Obilicev venac 29), or the alternative “Centrala” (ul. Simina 6).

Places to visit in Belgrade, Serbia
Old Town Central Street in Belgrade – depositphotos.com

A Fast Food Place

Serbians love meat and they love their fast food places. Once you have tasted a typical Balkan burger you will never want to go back to the likes of McDonald’s.

Try a “gurmanska pljeskavica” (beef patty with cubes of bacon and cheese worked in); there’s nothing better than that after a night out. Recommended places include “Loki” (corner of ul. Kralja Petra and ul. Gospodar Jovanova), “Sis” (ul. Goce Delceva 27), and “Stepin Vajat” (ul. Vojvode Stepe 2I).

A Pub

Belgrade is renowned for its nightlife and what better way to start your night out than with a cool beer or a nice cocktail. Streets like Obilicev venac or Strahinica bana offer plenty of bars and pubs. The latter is dubbed “Silicone Valley” for the high number of silicone-enhanced goods on display at night.

If you’re looking for something a bit more hidden, try to find “Klub Svetskih Putnika” (also known as “The Federal Association of Globe Trotters”; bul. Despota Stefana 7). For a traditional atmosphere with gypsy music you will have to go to a “kafana“, e.g. “Blek panters” (Ada Ciganlija).

A Club

When you’ve had a few drinks and the night is still young, then you should head out to the clubs. Definitely check out the rafts (“splavovi“) on the Sava and Danube rivers. They are a bit mainstream and a bit more expensive but typical for Belgrade (a popular one includes “Freestyler“; fair warning: do not chat up random girls in these places, this could end badly).

If you’re looking for a more alternative crowd check out the clubs in the centre, e.g. “Francuska Sobarica” (ul. Francuska 12), “Siprazje” (ul. Golsvordijeva 13) or “Corba Kafe” (ul. Bra?e Krsmanovi?a 3; good live music).

Note that many of these clubs may be temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Something Else

And now that I have talked in length about options for food and drinks, I realize I should probably also recommend something that better fits the word “sight”.

So, when in Belgrade these are the things to see:

  • Kalemegdan Fortress
  • Temple of Saint Sava
  • Saint Marko’s Church
  • Museum of Nikola Tesla
  • House of Flowers/Tito Memorial
  • Ada Ciganlija
  • Palace of Kneginja Lubica

… phew, that’s more than enough for a few days in Belgrade!

For more places to visit in the Balkans, check out these posts: