The renovation of a former residence of the Slovene painter Leopold Layer (1752–1828) in Kranj has resulted in the development of a significant cultural venue known as Layer House. Maintained by Carnica Institute for Culture and Tourism, the house has become a junction of cultural happening in Kranj, hosting social, creative, various cultural, urbanistic and educational events. In addition to a coffee house located in the atrium with a garden offering a delightful venue for concerts, literary or theatre events, Layer House also includes a small museum dedicated to the glass photo inventor Janez Puhar), gallery spaces for temporary exhibitions, artists studios, and artist residences. There is also a small gift shop with unique souvenirs.
Situated near the Khislstein Castle in Kranj, Layer House’s 18th-century architecture is characterised by classicism and baroque. The building’s recent transformation into a multi-purpose art area was funded in part with a grant from the European Regional Development Fund.
Layer House is also available for rental; its ambient is especially appropriate for any type of banquet (business conventions, anniversaries, birthday celebrations, New Year’s gatherings, weddings and other private functions). The house can accommodate smaller parties (20 people or less) or larger assemblies (120 people).
The son of painter Marko Layer, Leopold Layer was most active in the early part of the 19th century. His works can be found in many churches throughout Slovenia as well as in the National Gallery of Slovenia. He is perhaps most famous for his work in at the Basilica St. Mary Help of Christians in Brezje. For this Slovenian National Shrine he painted the chapel and the portrait “Marija Pomagaj Brezje” (“Mary Help of Christians at Brezje”).
Cultural programme and activities
Layer House collaborates with a number of artists and partners from Kranj and the rest of Slovenia in creating unique and multifaceted activities. There has been many a music concert by both emerging as well as established Slovenian artists, numerous theatre and cabaret shows, workshops and a number of other events.
Museum and gallery spaces
The first-floor museum is divided into two parts, with one room exhibiting walls with restored 19th-century frescoes and another regularly hosting temporary exhibitions. The basement spaces are devoted to the life and work of Janez Puhar, a pioneer of early photography credited with inventing a novel method of capturing images on glass in 1841. Aside from these, there are also two additional spaces where temporary exhibitions are held – the neighbouring Škrlovec tower (operated otherwise by Prešeren Theatre Kranj) and the multi-purpose room called Mahlerca.
It should be noted that all three galleries for temporary exhibitions are actively used, presenting a very varied and colourful pallet of artworks.
Živa ulica (Slovenian for “lively street”) is an annual string of events, workshops, exhibitions and many other activities first organised in June 2013 by Layer House on Tomšičeva ulica where the house is situated. These events aspired to liven up the neighbourhood by inviting nearby residents, shop-owners, artists, and visitors to participate in co-creating a lively and energetic atmosphere.
Dvocikel (Slovenian for “bicycle”) is a programme organised by Layer House and Moonlee Records. This innovative concert experience features various music acts or groups that participate in pairs in a Layer House musical residency. Each Dvocikel concert event represents the results of the residency and is headlined by the two acts on two locations (one venue is usually in Kranj and the other one in Ljubljana). In this way, Dvocikel aims to explore the possibilities of live concert set-ups, to provide unique concert experiences, and to support artists by granting them both creative space and an opportunity to connect through diverse musical expressions and genres. Other collaborators in the series include Kataman – Association for Artistic Production, Glej Theatre, and Normala company.
Residences and tourist facilities
The Layer House residence apartments were primarily conceived with the intention to host artists included in its artist-in-residence programme, but when available these spaces (three apartments) are also available to tourists wishing to stay in the old part of the city of Kranj. The house offers this unique stay to business travellers, couples, friends, and families who aim for a warm atmosphere and enjoy being surrounded by arts and culture.