Established in 1993, the Celje Gallery of Contemporary Art is situated on the outskirts of the old town centre and is part of the architectural complex of buildings that once formed the foothill castle of the Counts of Celje. Since 2005 it is managed by the Celeia Celje Institute – Centre for Contemporary Arts as its principal exhibition space. Annually the venue hosts up to 10 exhibitions addressing specific themes or offering a thorough monographic presentation of individual artistic positions. The exhibitions are usually prepared by the house curators although the Centre for Contemporary Arts also collaborates with foreign experts and offers a working platform for guest curators through its artist-in-residence programme AiR Celeia Celje.
The adjacent small Hodnik (Corridor) Gallery features a lively programme of short-termed (even less than a week) presentations by emerging artists from the region.
Many exhibitions in the Celje Gallery of Contemporary Art extend to other venues managed by the Celeia Celje Institute – Centre for Contemporary Arts. The thematic group exhibitions often tackle controversial issues and include international artists. In 2001 Irena Čerčnik and Nevenka Šivavec curated the exhibition Male [Moški], featuring works of 17 artists including Vlasta Delimar, Kutluğ Ataman, Marija Mojca Pungerčar, Eclipse, and Zoran Naskovski. The provocative concept derived from the gap between internationally acclaimed post-feminist theories and the lack of gender-related or feminist art in the local context.
The exhibition Forbidden Death [Prepovedana smrt] addressed the phenomenon of the ubiquitous presence of mediated death in relation to the avoidance of contact with the dying in contemporary society. It was curated by Irena Čerčnik in 2009 and presented the works of 12 artists of different generations including Jože Barši, Nika Autor, Goran Bertok, Teresa Margolles, Eleonore Phillips, Kate Pollard, etc.
Complex art historical surveys represent another type of exhibition presented at the gallery. The exhibitions Image of the Space (Podoba prostora) (2008) and Sculpture Today (Kiparstvo danes) (2010) were dedicated to contemporary art in the regional context. On a smaller scale, study exhibitions bring forth previously unexplored juxtapositions such as the exhibition War-time Reminiscence with paintings by Gabrijel Stupica and Zoran Mušič.
In addition, the gallery hosts so-called “student premières” where students and graduates of fine arts academies get a chance to present their work to the public for the first time, gain their first experience in the public sphere and establish their first references.
Solo shows are usually dedicated to artists connected with the town. In recent years the gallery has presented works of Slovene artists of all generations such as Stane Jagodič, Marjan Krošl, Borut Holland, Željko Opačak, and Marijan Tršar.
The Celje Gallery of Contemporary Art also gave the floor to the private art collection owned by the Celje-based company Okolje Consulting, presenting it to the public for the first time in 2010.
The Celje Gallery of Contemporary Art also collects works of contemporary Slovene visual arts. The collection has been growing gradually; at first, it was contributed to by important Slovene artists, of late it has been regularly expanded with work by artists who either live in the Celje region, are natives of the city, or are otherwise connected with the town. The gallery currently possesses over 200 works, which are occasionally presented to the public within the thematic group exhibitions.