Today, February 22, marks the 19th anniversary of artist Andy Warhol’s death in 1987. For those of you who are big fans of Warhol, really really big fans, you might want to consider a trip to Medzilaborce, Slovakia to honor his passing.
Medzilaborce is a small town in the Carpathian Mountains not too far from the Ukrainian border. Although few have heard of it, most have heard of Warhol, the town’s most famous prodigal son-or grandson as it may be. Warhol’s parents lived here before immigrating to the United States in 1913 where Andrew Varchola (his original name) was born.
Warhol eventually became quite famous in America but remained unknown back home in Slovakia. In fact, authorities considered him anti-communist and ensured he received little exposure behind the Iron Curtain. It wasn’t until the fall of communism that the people of Medzilaborce learned about their association with greatness. Naturally, they did what every small town does with hometown heroes-they built a museum to honor him.
The Warhol Family Museum of Modern Art is a long, seven-hour drive from Bratislava and may be the most difficult journey the 17,000 tourists who visited last year have ever undertaken to see world class art. Mostly funded by EU grants, the museum features a collection of photographs and documents pertaining to the Warhol family as well as artwork by Andy’s nephew, brother and mother. The real treasures, however, are here on loan from the Warhol Foundation. This appropriately includes Lenin and Mao renditions, as well as a Jackie Kennedy, Mick Jagger, and of course, a Campbell’s Soup can.
Andy is also immortalized by a bronze statue standing in front of the $1.3 million museum. The town’s old Lenin statue, toppled in 1989, is undoubtedly rolling over in its grave.