In order to embellish the new Parliament building, in 1936 the acquisition of artistic works began. With the watercolours of architect Nikolai Krasnov, who designed the interior of the House of the National Assembly, it can be seen that portraits of the royal family were envisaged for the assembly halls and diplomatic salon. For the diplomatic salon on the first floor, in 1937–1938 Vladimir Becić was commissioned to paint six portraits of the ruling family and the King’s Regents. At the same time, the portraits of the President of the National Assembly were painted – the work of Uroš Predić and Ivan Tišov. The collection of decorative paintings in the Assembly at that period included the works of Sava Šumanović, Petar Dobrović, Kosta Hakman, Zora Petrović, and Vasa Pomorišac.
The replenishment of the Parliament’s collection continued after World War Two. State commissions decided what works would be purchased. During this period, the collection was enriched with the works of artists from all over the countries of former Yugoslavia. When deciding about the artists, equal national representation was one of the requirements taken into account, thereby making room for less well-known painters whose works stood alongside those by Milo Milunović,Petar Lubarda, Milan Konjović, Petar Omčikus and Jovan Bijelić. At the present day, it represents an anthological collection of Yugoslav painting of the middle and end of the 20th century.
During the events of 5 October 2000, the collection, which comprised 156 works, was devastated: 60 paintings were lost or destroyed in a fire, and many were damaged. Although the loss was irretrievable, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia donated 39 paintings to the National Assembly, thus enlarging the collection with the works of contemporary artists, among them Miloš Bajić, Vladimir Dunić, BožidarDamjanovski, Milić Stanković of Mačva, Voja Stanić and others.
The art collection was enlarged again in 2014 with the portrait of Stevan Ćirić, the President of the National Assembly from 1935 to 1936 (the work of Uroš Predić), which his daughter Evelina Mileusnić donated to the National Assembly. In addition, in 2015 Princess Jelisaveta Karadjordjević presented to the National Assembly a portrait of Prince Paul Karadjordjević, the work of Savelj
Sorino, from 1939.
Today, the collection consists of 168 works, mostly oil on canvas. The Parliament’s art collection gives an insight into artistic production in the former Yugoslavia, mainly in the post-war period, and is made up of the works of the most prominent artists at different periods of their creative endeavour.
With the intention and strong desire to bring the artworks from the Parliament’s collection, significant indicators of the national identity, back to where they belong, this exhibition continues the process of presenting their diversity and richness of language, of techniques and contents, which provide a kind of artistic meta-reflection of the turbulent history of the building of the National Assembly itself.