The Gallery of Matica Srpska is recognizable by its extraordinary collection of Serbian art from the end of the 16th c. until today, consisting of masterpieces of prominent artists such as Hristofor Žefarović, Teodor Kračun, Katarina Ivanović, Đura Jakšić, Paja Jovanović, Uroš Predić, Sava Šumanović, Milan Konjović, Đordje Jovanović, Petar Lubarda and many others.
The great Serbian benefactor, the first lifelong president of Matica Srpska, Sava Tekelija, and his collection of family portraits, which arrived as a legacy to the Matica Srpska in 1843, laid the foundation of the future collection. After of the Matica Srpska Museum was founded in 1847, the artworks have been continuously collected. The noble gesture of giving, first commenced by Sava Tekelija, continued by latter successors-presidents, members and admirers of Matica Srpska, as well as by patriotic citizens, collectors, artists, who strived to enrich its art collection with their gifts, bequests and contributions. It is this act of giving that represents the special value of the Gallery and its collection. Today, we are proud to point out that one third of the collection consists of gifts and bequests shaped into gift collections that bear the names of their donators.
As it was created during the past 175 years, the history of the collection of the Gallery of Matica Srpska is the history of the Serbian people, art and culture, which reflects all socio-historical, cultural and artistic changes that Serbian society underwent in a wider geographical area – from the former Austrian and Ottoman Empires, through various forms of state organization of the former Yugoslavia, to the present Republic of Serbia.
Today the collection, primarily oriented towards painting, numbers 10,000 works of art. It is divided into 16 collections and includes outstanding examples of graphics, sculpture, drawings, applied art which highlight the origin, development and achievements of Serbian art and indicate the origins, position and the place of Serbian culture and art in European context.
The collection of the Gallery of Matica Srpska was taken care of and researched by numerous curators, today considered to be one of the most important art historians and researchers of Serbian art: Olga Mikić, Dinko Davidov, PhD, Leposava Šelmić, MA, Jasna Jovanov, Milan Solarov, MA, Ratomir Kulić, Emica Milošević and Branka Kulić, PhD. Thanks to their devoted work, the Gallery of Matica Srpska has published a great number of editions important for the study of Serbian art history of the 18th, 19th and 20th c.
The collection of each museum is a living thing. It grows with each new gift and redemption, gains in value through research, exhibition and publication of studies, and in beauty with each successfully performed conservation and restoration procedure. The collection is the basis of our daily work and the essence of our action.