Ljubljana International Expo: The Biennial of Graphic Arts

Ljubljana has many art events throughout the year, but almost nothing is as prestigious as the Biennial of Graphic Arts. It’s one of the longest-running biennials in the world, working as an exhibition of contemporary graphic art. Ever-changing, it reflects the continuous growth of Slovenian culture.

The Ljubljana Internationa Expo houses the Biennial of Graphic Arts (Grafični bienale Ljubljana). The event started as far back as 1955 and offers a view into the culture of Slovenia and how its people grow. The event happens every odd year, with the next biennials starting 2021 and 2023.

Are you visiting Ljubljana in the near future? Here’s why the Biennial of Graphic Arts is a prestigious event that you shouldn’t miss. Regardless if you’re a dilettante or not, this is a must-see time for you.

A Quick History of the Ljubljana Graphic Biennial 

The Ljubljana Graphic Biennial is among the oldest biennials in the world. The event started in 1955, giving Ljubljana and Slovenian fine arts a standing within the global art world. It influenced the emergence of similar events worldwide, creating an avant-garde movement for such an experience.

The historic event started in 1955 with the idea of Zoran Kržišnik and under the undying work of Božidar Jakac. Jakac is among the finest graphic artists in Slovenia who tirelessly worked to build Slovene art. He was a premiere Expressionist, realist, and symbolist painter and printmaker.

Jakac pushed to build art establishments in Slovenia, including the establishment of the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts in 1945. He because the president of the Association of Fine Artists of Yugoslavia. By 1955, he initiated the Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana.

For the longest time, Kržišnik became the leader of the movement and pushed towards putting Slovenia on the art map. By 1986, the International Center of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (Mednarodni grafični likovni center) started.

The MGLC is housed in the Tivoli Mansion, a turn of the 17th century mansion known as the Podturn. The mansion itself was a residential building until 1967, but its inherent beauty offered a stunning home for the Biennial.

The Tivoli Mansion acts as the headquarters for the MGLC, but the Biennial of Graphic Arts happens in different art locations in Ljubljana. These include the Cankarjev dom, Museum of Modern Art, Jakopic Gallery, and the Svicarija Art Center.

The Biennial also happens in several independent art galleries, depending on the theme. Many biennials use urban, open-air venues too.

The Value of The Biennial for Graphics Art 

The Biennial for Graphics Art is famous for establishing an active network of experiences in the field of graphic art. The international community recognized the status of the biennial as a high-quality event. By doing so, it allowed the establishment of Slovenian art abroad.

Slovenian art received representation in world museums, mainly with prints. Ever since its establishment, the biennial worked towards strengthening the quality of Slovenian art, the artists themselves, and their creations.

The biennial invigorated the art movement in Slovenia by regularly presenting works by artists from other cultural and artistic backgrounds. It marked the presence of domestic events that encouraged Slovenes to pursue art.

The Biennial started at a time when graphic artistry and its reproduction techniques reflected art and society in general. Almost every biennial represented a different art world, highlighting emerging trends of the time.

The Growth of The Movement

During the establishment of the Biennial, pop art was already gaining ground in the UK and the United States in the ‘50s to 60s. From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, art trends changed. 

The so-called individual hand of the artist came to the fore again. It pushed graphics as a mass production technique into the background. The biennial events in Ljubljana experienced a crisis period until the ‘90s, where arts and graphic arts re-emerged.

The focus of art moved towards the idea of a post-industrial society. The enlightenment focused on ecological awareness, political correctness, and the ability of art to communicate. 2001 marked another paradigm shift.

Post-media art from 2001 onwards pushed towards self-reflection and existential questioning. Graphic art in Slovenia went through a process of revitalization. 

It looked towards verifying structure and organization. The attitude towards domestic and international publication became more positive, together with curation and the graphic art media itself.

Appreciating The Graphic Biennial

As the organizer of the Ljubljana Graphic Biennial, the International Center of Graphic Arts handles most of the work towards the protection and curation of its exhibits. It handles archiving, researching, and presenting the heritage of this event.

The museum is a member of the International Biennial Association (IBA), and since 2018 has been participating in the international Perennial Biennial project. 

Each graphic biennial in Ljubljana works with numerous events. Many would think that an art event is haughty and dismissive of the general public’s appreciation. The biennial actively works towards creating a varied program for all generations.

Many of the events in the biennial offer something for all levels of art appreciation. It also gives several ways of appreciation for visitors. These can be guided tours, workshops, scientific symposia, lectures, talks with artists, art events, and the like.

Among the particular interests of the event is the traditional awarding of international prizes. The biennial also cares about changes in aesthetic criteria, and how graphic art moves away from confining one medium.

The Ljubljana Graphic Biennial is alive. It is a living, ever-changing platform of artistic creations that moves towards reflecting the world. It moves according to the variety of events in society and art, following the human impulse of modernity.

If you want to feel the moving power of art, this is a must-visit.

Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts Visitor Tips 

The Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts as an event happens every two years. It happens every odd year in the calendar, with the latest in 2019. The next biennial will start in 2021 and 2023. Even then, you don’t have to wait two years to enjoy the exhibitions.

The MGLC in the Tivoli Mansion will have many of the exhibits of the past years. The usual focus is the latest biennial, but you’ll also see many exhibits from the past exhibitions.

The MGLC is open every Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM. During Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the exhibit closes earlier at 2 PM. The only days they close are Mondays, December 25th, and January 1st.

If you have a group of people for an excursion, the exhibit also offers group visits by appointment. When this happens, they are available on weekdays from 8 AM to 6 PM and 10 AM to 6 PM on the weekends.

Ticket prices start at five euros for adults, with special prices for children, students, and even groups. Families, for example, are only charged nine euros for the entire group.

During the Graphic Biennial, the value of tickets can be changed in accordance with the marketing plan of the public institution. Visitors can get more information via the website and a notice at the box office.

MGLC also offers a free ticket for the holder of one of many art support cards in Ljubljana. These include the ICOM, SMD, AICA, and Urbana tourist cards and Friends of the Biennial membership. 

Children up to 12 years of age, journalists, the unemployed, visitors with special needs, students of partner art schools also get the same benefit.

How To Make Your MGLC Experience Better

When there’s an exhibition, one of the best places you can visit is the Cafe Biennial. The cafeteria is a nod to the prevailing coffee tradition in Slovenia. From 10 AM to 12 PM, you can treat yourself to coffee, natural juice, and a croissant or toast.

Along with desserts and homemade biscuits, you can also choose from wines from Slovenian winemakers and many cocktails. On non-exhibit days, they are open from 9 AM to 9 PM from Monday to Thursday. It closes at 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

The MGLC also encourages bringing in your pets if you have them with you. For safety reasons, the biennial will ask you to put it on a leash and let it wear a muzzle, with exceptions for guide dogs and helper dogs.

The biennial likes to offer customized guided tours of their exhibitions. They want to make sure that everyone can get equal access to the art exhibits they provide. They also offer guided tours with sign language interpreters and even workshops with the content of occasional exhibitions.

The entrance to the ground floor of the MGLC building is only possible with assistance. People with disabilities would need someone to help them, especially because toilets are on the ground floor. 

Orientation around the building is possible for the blind and partially sighted, usually due to the help of a tactile map. Admission for visitors with special needs and their companions is free.


The Biennial of Graphic Arts is a beautiful event that celebrates graphic arts. It shows what Slovenes are capable of, noting the position of Slovenian artists on the international scene. If you find yourself in Ljubljana, see if you can visit the biennial and MGLC.

Ljubljana is a city of different arts, history, and culture. It is a world on its own, and you should give it a visit. Check out everything that you can do in Ljubljana. Spend your time and enjoy each day with different activities available for you.

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