Home In Memory of Marija Gattin

Marija Gattin, curator and senior archivist at the MSU | Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb [Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb], died in September 2010 after a long and severe illness.

Without Marija Gattin’s knowledge and commitment, without her generosity and her tender and dark humor neither the book nor the related exhibitions would have been possible. Not only did she open the cabinets and boxes of the rich MSU archive for us in 2004, not only did she answer queries, respond to all manner of requests, help identify works and protagonists, assemble the chronology of Zagreb-related events, but she also gave us new clues, unearthed previously unknown documents, and solved riddles and contradictions.

It was from her we learned – to paraphrase Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – that for strange effects and extraordinary combinations we must go to the archive itself, which is always far more daring than any effort of the imagination.

Marija Gattin was born in Split in 1957 and graduated in art history and Italian studies at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb in 1984.[1] In 1987, she started working at the MSU as a curator in charge of documentation and the library. She became head of the Documentation and Research Department in 2000. Furthermore she becamehead of the Information and Documentation Department after the restructuring of the MSU in 2007.

It was thanks to her expertise and enthusiasm that the documentation and visual archives of the MSU were able to evolve into the richest documentation center of all such centers in Croatian museums and galleries containing data bases on contemporary Croatian and international art, as well as on individual artists. In addition to such tasks as these, from 2003 to 2007 Marija Gattin also managed the photography, film, and video collection of the MSU. She possessed a heightened sensibility for photographic work and carefully preserved and archived the opus of her late husband, the photographer Nenad Gattin.

Marija Gattin approached the work of documentation, that invisible yet crucial activity of all museums, with passion, with analytical and creative verve, considering the archival material as foundation for all true scholarship, for books, museum exhibitions, and for catalogs. She participated in the organization of most exhibitions at the MSU, initiating and co-authoring the catalog of the MSU Collection, Volumen[2] (2008), for the opening of the new museum’s building.

Among the exhibitions curated by Marija Gattin, it is Gorgona, Gorgonic, Gorgonian, shown at the 47th Venice Biennale (1997), which is of particular importance. Continuing her research on the phenomenon of Gorgona, she wrote the script for a documentary on Josip Vaništa, directed by Ljiljana Jojić for the Croatian State Television in 2000. She also edited and wrote texts for the monograph Gorgona. Protocol of Submitting Thoughts[3], published by the MSU in 2002.

Marija Gattin was a colleague and a friend who is sorely missed.



[1] The following biographical information was assembled and written by Jadranka Vinterhalter, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb, and published under www.msu.hr/#/hr/18849.

[2] Snježana Pintarić (ed.), Volumen: katalog zbirke i kronologija izložbi / Catalogue of the Collection and Chronology of Exhibitions, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb, Zagreb, 2008.

[3] Marija Gattin (ed.), Gorgona. Protocol of Submitting Thoughts, Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb, Zagreb, 2002.