On 28 May 2019, Minister of Culture Nina Obuljen Koržinek, accompanied by the Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel, visited the Benčić complex, where the Children’s House and the new buildings of the City Museum of Rijeka and the City Library are being constructed and which already houses the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Minister Obuljen Koržinek pointed out that the main reason for visiting Rijeka with her associates was to see how the preparations for the European Capital of Culture were progressing and, while at the site, she also examined the infrastructure works.

“We had a long and eventful meeting – I can say that what was until just a few months ago an outline of a programme, today looks very interesting, coherent and aligned with the proposal in the bid-book, which is why we can expect a modern, European and relevant programme in Rijeka next year. It was also a chance to see all the infrastructure works, which, in my opinion, are progressing according to the planned timeframe. The entire dynamic largely depended on the approval of funds from the European Union and I believe that it is important for this fact to show how European and national funds can be used for a single, unifying project, such as the European Capital Culture, in order to employ infrastructure that will ultimately provide new content primarily for the residents of Rijeka, as well as all the visitors who will come next year and in the years to follow”, Minister Obuljen Koržinek noted.

Mayor Obersnel voiced his satisfaction with the stage of completion of the infrastructure works, as well as the level of preparation of the Rijeka – European Capital of Culture programme, which should be made known in September. Pleasantly surprised by the strong interest of citizens in the visit to the Benčić complex construction site that was recently organised as part of the EU projects open days, Mayor Obersnel announced that similar visits will be organised several times by the end of the year.

Also present during the visit were Chairman of the Rijeka City Council Andrej Poropat and representatives of the Ministry of Culture, Croatian Conservation Institute, Department for Conservation in Rijeka, City of Rijeka and the Central Finance and Contracting Agency.

The Head of the Rijeka Department of Culture Ivan Šarar guided the tour and visit to the site, while the Director of the City Museum of Rijeka Ervin Dubrović and the author of the prospective City Museum of Rijeka exhibitions Nikolina Jelavić Mitrović presented the new home of the City of Rijeka Museum, which was converted from the Sugar Refinery Palace.

Renovation works on the Sugar Refinery Place, into which the City of Rijeka Museum is slated to move, are currently underway at the Benčić complex. Rough construction works, including roof renovation, have been completed, while facade renovation, the installation of exterior joinery units, the plastering of walls and ceilings etc., as well as conservation works are underway.

March saw the beginning of construction works on the Children’s House, a unique building in Croatia in which several cultural institutions will create cultural content for children and which will house the Stribor Children’s Library.

Works on the refurbishment of public spaces and the construction of the infrastructure required for the buildings at the Benčić complex – such as new water supply facilities, sewage and electrical installations – have recently begun. This means that the denizens of Rijeka will receive another public square enriched with vegetation, a theme park and walking paths.

Reconstruction works on the T-shaped building, wherein the Rijeka City Library will be relocated, will also commence soon.

The City of Rijeka Museum, Children’s House and the public spaces at the Benčić complex will be completed in 2020, while the City Library will be finished in 2021.

This is a capital investment in culture infrastructure by the City of Rijeka, with significant funds also provided by the EU.

The works on the renovation of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which are valued at HRK 9.2 million, were funded by the City of Rijeka. The total value of the contracted works on the Sugar Refinery Palace is HRK 44.5 million, while the reconstruction of the Children’s House will cost HRK 41.7 million. Refurbishment works on the public spaces and infrastructure will cost HRK 50.4 million.

The European Union will co-fund the Children’s House and the new building of the Rijeka City Library with HRK 68.21 million through the “Revitalisation of the Benčić complex – brick and T-shaped building” project, which is part of the Competitiveness and Cohesion Operative Programme. Also, the European Union has secured grants for the renovation of the Sugar Refinery Palace and the Galeb ship in the amount of HRK 68.89 million through the same operative programme, as well as the integrated programme “Tourist valorisation of representative monuments of the industrial heritage of Rijeka.”

The photo gallery is available on the My Rijeka website.