The National Gallery for Foreign Art was opened on 5 November 1985 as an art gallery of the first international foundation in Bulgaria currently named St. Cyril and St. Methodius.
The history of its establishment was related to a decade of collection and organization activity in the 70s and 80s of the last century. Subsequently, the foreign art fund of the National Art Gallery was added to the collection. The donations made through the 13 Centuries Bulgaria Fund and the generous donations by private contributors were of great importance for the completion of the museum collection.
As a general architectural silhouette, the Gallery building is a reconstruction of the old State Printing House designed by the Vienna architect Friedrich Schwanberg which was partially destroyed by bombings during the World War II. Its appearance today, conformed to the functions of a modern gallery, is the work of famous Bulgarian architects, artists, art historians, and arrangers.
The most valuable exhibits of the Gallery funds are displayed on four floors, housed in 19 rooms, with a total exhibition area of approximately 3,200 sqm. The Gallery holds over 10,000 museum items – graphic works, paintings, sculptures, fine arts.
The National Gallery for Foreign Art in Sofia is the only one of its kind in the Balkans. It holds a unique collection of Christian sculpture of the Indian province of Goa which can be found only in Portugal and Great Britain, the Poetic Reality collection which no other museum has to offer, etc.
The Gallery is unique with the character of its collection – the art of distant lands, of exotic tribes and nations, of old and new ages coexists with the modern European tendencies, with traditional and religious pictorial principles in the chronological span of a millennium.
“This is a real museum miracle! To create such a marvelous museum with its own appearance, with its own individuality, in such a short period of time.”
Assoc. Prof. Lihachov
“What a presentation of heterogeneous art. It shows to the world the true path to international understanding.”
Yan Gurley, UK
“With my deepest respect to the finely performed work and beautiful presentation! Remarkable achievement of the museum’s work and of the Bulgarian culture as a whole.”
Sir David Willson
of the British Museum
“We are delighted with the originality and qualities of the entire collection and the museum activity. With gratitude.”
Director of City Museums, Venice
„An undogmatic museum. Magnificent rooms. Exemplary exposition. I am truly amazed by this phenomenon!”
Roger Somville, artist, Belgium