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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 16:37 GMT
Bratislava art museum opens
Arthur Fleischmann in his studio
Arthur Fleischmann worked in various materials

The Arthur Fleischmann Museum has finally opened in Bratislava.

Arthur Fleischmann was my father. A renowned sculptor, he was born in Bratislava in 1896 and died in Spain in 1990.

Joy Fleischmann
Joy Fleischmann, Arthur's widow, was guest of honour at the opening

I was completely jet lagged after flying in to Bratislava from San Francisco, but I could not miss being there with my mother Joy at the grand museum opening.

It was the culmination of all the hard work over the last 12 years to create a museum dedicated to my father.

The house where he grew up in the early years of the 20th Century now provides the permanent home of the museum.

It looked spectacular lit up for the opening in the winter evening.

Arthur Fleischmann
The artist as a young man in Vienna, holding Dark Figure
It is a burger's house in Biela Ulice, situated just off the main square in the historical centre of Bratislava - the city where the kings of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were crowned and which now the capital of the Slovak Republic.

Jewels

Festivities started at the Mirbach Palace on Tuesday, where a temporary exhibition of my father's acrylic water sculptures is being held to complement the opening of the museum.

The gallery space in the Mirbach Palace was mostly in darkness, with the abstract transparent acrylic Water Sculptures that Fleischmann created during the 1970s lit up like jewels.

They are shown together with a selection of working drawings filled with technical notes and calculations.

As well as providing a dazzling show of indoor fountains that glisten and burble playfully, the Palace provided sufficient space for the 1,000 guests or so who could not fit into the more intimate space of the Museum.

Conurbation
Fleischmann's Perspex fountains has gone on display

Minister and dignitaries made speeches - it seemed like the entire parliament was present - a multimedia spectacle of live music and video displays took place and a commemorative plaque was unveiled.

Afterwards a bizarre torchlit procession formed up under the grand arch of the Palace and made its way across the street to the museum.

Spiritual

It contains a number of the photographs taken by my father during his travels through Indonesia, and in particular the island of Bali before the Japanese occupation during World War II - a time more peaceful and spiritual than today.

The museum itself contains many of the sculptures my father created during his long life, as well as documents, didactic material and audio-visual presentations.

Many of the works on display have been lent by the Arthur Fleischmann Foundation that helps to manage the artist's estate in London.

Fulfilment

These pieces represent his later career, but the majority of the works have been drawn together from various collections around Bratislava to be under this one roof.

The museum has been painstakingly renovated

I hope that this site will contribute to the cultural vibrancy of the city, under the administration of the City Museum of Bratislava.

With a restaurant on the ground floor and a fringe theatre company operating from a space in the basement, it certainly has the right ingredients.

I already feel a sense of relief and fulfilment that the project has been completed.

But I also feel a sense of loss.

For 12 years the project has been a part of my life - a constant level of effort of e-mails, faxes, meetings, contracts and, most of all, a tapestry of interesting and eccentric characters.

I'll always keep coming back to the house on Biela Ulice - it will not be long before I invent another mountain to climb.

See also:

31 Dec 01 | Entertainment
08 Jan 02 | Entertainment
12 Nov 02 | Entertainment
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