The municipality will spend just under 10 million euros for the project, while the state will chip in just more than 2.5 million. Almost 11 million euros will come from the European Fund for Regional Development.
For years, people have averted their gazes from the Sugar Factory (“Cukrarna”) to avoid seeing the embarrassing ruins of what had once been the largest sugar processing plant in the Habsburg Lands. Some may have been reminded of the sad fate of Slovenian modernists, who once made their home in the former factory. Now, the site will house the largest exhibition space in this part of Europe.
The facility will be devoted to fine and visual arts. The people of Ljubljana will finally get appropriate premises for events such as BIO Ljubljana and the International Biennial of Graphic Arts. According to the head of the City Museum and Gallery Blaž Peršin, “This will enhance our range of cultural events and will allow us to host exhibitions that will attract visitors from abroad.”
A new venue for various programs will now extend along the Ljubljanica River, all the way to Plečnik’s River Locks. Some of the events will appeal to more demanding visitors, who are increasingly discovering Ljubljana’s culture. “In recent times, 60 percent of visitors to our museums and galleries during the busiest months have been foreigners. This would have been inconceivable just a decade ago.”
The Sugar Factory almost experienced the fate of Kolizej, which had been torn down. There were plans to save the structure by building another shopping mall, as well as proposals to transform it into office space for the municipality. In the end, it turned out that cultural facilities were the best fit for the building.
The construction and renovation work is scheduled to begin next month and to conclude within 24 months since the project depends on EU funds.