In the mode of classicism: Interior solution for the Zemedelske Museum in Bratislava

Danica Šoltésová


In recent years, numerous research studies evaluated the architectural work by Milan Michal Harminc. Archive resources however provide us with new materials documenting a broad extent of his creative activities. The article deals with interior spaces of the former Agricultural Museum in Bratislava (today the Slovak National Museum), that was built by Harminc in the years 1924 – 1928. The study refers to interior spaces of the structure that created integral part of the architect´s complex solution. An analytical approach to description, based on primary research of details in the preserved interiors, as well as research of written archive materials, or pictures of that period, has been accepted. Other materials like unpublished original interior designs, stored in the Department of Architecture, in Archive of the Fine Arts of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava were subject of analysis as well.

Harminc, when projecting the museum interiors, applied the means of style, classicized historic style in particular. This style, during the interwar period, had the status of grand manner suitable for official and public buildings. The classicized historic style together with dignity and representativeness reflected the Harminc´s main artistic and ideological principle: modern official monumentality, present at designing his most important buildings in Bratislava in the 1920ties. This style was reflected already in the architectural concept of the structure as well as in the future interior furnishing planned for the structure of the Agricultural Museum. The representative appearance of the interior spaces was achieved by architecture that stressed classical decorative elements. The stucco reliefs of ceilings with motives of caissons and the rectangular raster of walls with stone facing were framed with more delicate decorative elements. Typical for the decoration were motives of astragal, pilasters and door reveals, decorations of frame posts on furniture. Original drawings include designs of furniture pieces like cabinets, desks, arm chairs and sofas with soft shapes and upholstery intended for individual spaces. The pictures of that time show what the museum social spaces looked like and what were the quality furniture pieces like. The furniture was, for the Museum, produced by a famous Brno furniture factory Thonet. The written archive documents provide information on the used materials and other furnishing objects.

The preserved interior of the Museum and the researched documents show that the architect, when designing the furnishing, accurately considered selection of furniture pieces in their relation to purpose of the room. His creative self-confidence contributed to the strength of expression. Subordination of the whole composition to a unified idea of dignity and representativeness, present in all aspects of the structure, was a key to the harmony.

Keywords: architecture, Bratislava, interior, Zemedelske Museum, Harminc