»The Red and The Black«, exhibition hosted in the City Museum of Ljubljana between 18 June 2021 and 2 January 2022, associates Ljubljana and Slovenia with their historical and current roles in the European international relations. The exhibition connects the upcoming role of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021 with the 1821 Congress that placed Ljubljana in the centre of the most crucial European political developments.
Ljubljana, in 1821 called Laibach and a part of the Austrian Duchy of Carniola, had at the time approximately two thousand residents. In more than three months, the Congress of Ljubljana brought more than six–hundred participants from all over Europe, among them highest names like Austrian Foreign Minister Metternich, Austrian and Russian emperors, Italian princes, many diplomant and other high-ranking guests etc. The congress still to these days represents one of the most important events, and in fact, the first big MICE event in Slovenian history.
However, the event otherwise political in nature was stregthened with a pleiade of cultural and artistic events that were every day entertaining visitors with theatre performances and concerts. Also merchants, artisans, inkeepers and other businesses and services were thriving due to months of wealthy guests visting the town. Also the construction of the city boomed, as the roads and the sewage system were renovated, and the Congress Square (Kongresni trg), which still to these days represents the central Ljubljana’s square, came to existence.
The exhibition at the City Museum of Ljubljana apart from portraying Ljubljana’s moments in the spotlight, also presents the Congress in light of the antagonism between the principles of legitimism and constitutionalism, characteristic of the European political restoration after the Congress of Vienna, says City Museum on its website. The system successfully sifled (even with weapons) the national and liberal turmoil and thus ensured the continent’s geopolitical stability.