Flash flooding overwhelms Ljubljana’s cultural institutions

In the worst flood in Slovenia in nearly two centuries, the capital's most important theatre and Modern art museum have been damaged

Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana has been flooded

Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana has been flooded

A torrential downpour late last week has caused extensive damage to some of Slovenia’s leading cultural institutions, including SNG Drama Ljubljana, the country's most important theatre, and the Moderna Galerija, the national museum of Modern and contemporary art.

According to Slovenia’s Environmental Agency, 96 litres of rain fell in Ljubljana between 9pm and 10pm on 29 September, with a total of 122 litres of rain per sq. m during the evening, in what is being described as the worst flood Slovenia has seen in nearly two centuries.

The flooding damaged schools, roads, hospitals and two of Slovenia’s most important cultural institutions. Damage is expected to be in the millions.

In footage posted to social media on 30 September, floods could be seen entering the galleries and storage of Moderna Gallery, which houses an extensive collection of Slovenian and wider European art.

The gallery said that an exhibition of Picasso graphics had been moved in time to prevent damage thanks to swift action by employees and emergency crews, but that damage to the infrastructure of the gallery itself was extensive.

"Immediately after yesterday’s event attended by senior officials, the staff had to safely rescue Picasso’s works. The Modern art gallery will be temporarily closed. The damage will be measured in hundreds of thousands of euros," Moderna gallery’s representative for public relations told the Slovenian news agency Delo.

“It was catastrophic, the water even flowed from the lights,” she described.

Water pouring down the stairs of SNG Drama Ljubljana Image: sngdramaljubljana/Instagram

In an Instagram post on Friday by SNG Drama Ljubljana, a video of water gushing down a stairway could be seen in the historic theatre. Damage to that institution is also expected to be significant. Both Moderna and SNG are closed until further notice.

The extreme weather events follow a similar pattern such as forest fires, officials say, due to climate change and rising greenhouse gas emissions. Average temperatures are expected to rise by up to 6 degrees Celsius in Slovenia by the end of the century, according to projections from the Slovenian Environment Agency, with precipitation also expected to increase by between 40-60% by the end of this century.


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