Moderna galerija is a national museum that works, in accordance with its mission, in the fields of modern and contemporary art. It was founded in 1947 as a museum of modern art. With Slovenia's independence in 1991, Moderna galerija became the principal national institution of modern and contemporary art and an increasingly active link between the local and the international, in particular Central and Eastern European, contexts.
During the transition following the downfall of the Communist regime, Moderna galerija suffered financial problems and personnel shortage. Today's vision of Moderna galerija is based on its history from the founding to the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and the downfall of Socialism, on the strong experience of the Balkan wars, the transition period and critical awareness of the increasing globalisation processes. The concept of museum advocated by Moderna galerija follows its own way and resists the existing hegemonic models. In the crucial period of the 1990's, Moderna galerija refused to become a postmodern museum of sensations and intense experiences; on the threshold of the new millennium it fairly clearly developed the concept of an art museum that advocates the plurality of narratives and priorities of local spaces that intend to enter equal dialogues with other spaces only with their own symbolic capital.
Since 2011, Moderna galerija has operated on two locations: in the original building of Moderna galerija (MG+) in the centre of Ljubljana and in the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM) located on the renovated premises of former military barracks. The concept of Moderna galerija as a museum of modern and contemporary art was initiated in the early 1990's, at the time of a strong need to allow more space for the previously neglected contemporary art and form closer links with the international space as well as with the national history and the historical moment then marked by the war and the new political geography of Europe. In contrast to the past decades, Moderna galerija began to show the interest in the present moment, which involved a different, but no less responsible addressing of the past. This initiated the processes that acquired their first tangible form in the Instrument of Constitution of Moderna galerija (2004) that defines the difference between the museum of modern art and museum of contemporary art as follows.
The museum of modern art is defined as a museum devoted to the notion and tradition of Modernism as a historical style. Although established as a museum of contemporary art, the museum of modern art had gradually turned into a museum of the past that accumulated through time and eventually opened the door to the museum of contemporary art. But even if the art displayed in the museum of modern art is mostly from the previous century, the ways of addressing it are determined by the present time and its priorities.
A museum of contemporary art does not necessarily differ from a museum of modern art in terms of historical period: in this respect, the two may even overlap as the tradition of Modernism is still alive while contemporary art draws from different art traditions. The programme of the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova thus reaches back to the new art practices of the 1960's although its social and political contemporaneity begins especially with the crucial events from the early 1990's.
Moderna galerija addresses both the museum of modern art and the museum of contemporary art from the aspect of multi-temporality derived from the critique of linear time and its universal validity. Different activities of both museums point out antagonisms rather than cover them by different virtual pluralities. Moderna galerija attempts to develop a different model of museum based on the criticism and redefinition of democratic institution. Its priorities include the construction of a local context and dialogues with different localities that follow especially similar priorities and interests in developing different institutionality and new models of cultural production.