Andy Warhol was born on 6th August 1928 in Pittsburgh to a family of Ruthenian immigrants issuing from the village of Miková close to Medzilaborce. He had two elder brothers, Paul (b. 1922, d. 2014) and John (b. 1925, d. 2010). His father Andrej Varchola/Andrew Warhol (b. 1886, d. 1942) was working as labourer and miner. His mother Júlia Varcholová/Julia Warhola (b. 1892, d. 1972) led her children to respect for faith, family, and traditional values. They lived a very modest life, having regularly visited the Greek Catholic Church divine services.
Thanks to Andy Warhol´s brothers John and Paul, Fred Hughes, representing the Andy Warhol Foundation in New York City, and on the initiative of Michal Bycko, PhD., the museum was founded in Medzilaborce as a trans-regional specific institution of a museum-gallery type addressing in particular the current tendencies of contemporary art, and especially the life and work of Andy Warhol.
Formation of the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce was preceded by the activities carried out by Michal Bycko, PhD., first in the Small Gallery of the Club of Friends of Fine Arts affiliated with the Visual Art branch of the Folk School of Arts and later in the Andy Warhol Society in Medzilaborce. During the existence of those institutions, the persons involved succeeded, even during the former political regime, to gather quite a lot of various materials and authentic documents, which are now part of the collection of the Fund and the Archives of the Museum.
The Museum was officially established by the Ministry of Culture in the year 1991 and from 1st April 2002 it has stayed within the trusteeship scope of the Higher Territorial Unit of the Prešov Self-governing Region.
Museum formation progress:
In the year 1973, Mr. Michal Bycko came across the name of Andy Warhol for the first time during his studies at the instigation of Prof. Ivan N. Šafranko.
1980s Even after his graduation, when Mr. Bycko was working as teacher, he was still looking for information on the American pop-art artist Andy Warhol and his roots. From Ľubica Protivňáková he learned about her grandma, Eva Bezeková, who was the youngest sister of Andy's mum Júlia, having lived in Miková. He acquired the first family photos and correspondence between the Warhols and the Bezeks. Vladimir Protivňák, the husband of Ľubica, met with Andy's brother John Warhol in the United States. The origin was confirmed, the family came from a small village of Miková in the northeast of Slovakia.
22nd February 1987 Andy Warhol died in New York City
1987 John Warhol visited his relatives in Eastern Slovakia. Michal Bycko personally met with him on 16th September and suggested him to help get the work of Andy Warhol for a Slovak gallery. In the capacity of the Vice President of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York, John Warhol promised he would promote that idea.
1988 Communication with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in New York started, which called for negotiations with an official institution, preferably with a museum. The ongoing negotiations were influenced by the then political and social situation and the understanding of Western art as something negative and undesirable, which is why many institutions refused or were feared to enter into negotiations.
1989 Michal Cihlář and Rudo Prekop established the contacts with Michal Bycko in January. In June, they launched an exhibition of pop art prints by Michal Cihlář in Medzilaborce, which was a great success. Petition for the establishment of the Museum took place in September, launched by the Prague artists Michal Cihlář, Aleš Najbrt, and photographer Rudo Prekop. In addition to other important persons, the petition was signed by the dissident and the future President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel.
Negotiations then followed on the reconstruction of the old post office building for the purposes of the Museum. In early November, Michal Bycko installed an exhibition on Andy Warhol, where documents and promotional materials on Andy were exhibited. For the first time, the facts about the Ruthenian origin of the artist were disclosed. The exhibition was open on 16th November 1989, symbolically on the „eve of the Velvet Revolution“. After the fall of totalitarianism (17/11/1989), several institutions and cities showed interest in Warhol. On 28th December 1989, the Statute of the Museum in Medzilaborce was approved.
1990 John Warhol visited Medzilaborce for the second time. The city granted him honorary citizenship, but he left disappointed from the progress of work in the renovation of the old post office building. The officials did not manage to complete the reconstruction within the agreed deadline. The opinion of the New York Foundation and its President A. L. Gillies was clear – the paintings may only be lent after the completion of the premises for the Museum. On 22nd March 1990, a non-political and non-governmental Andy Warhol Society (AWS) was founded.
In April 1990, a meeting was held between the representatives of the city of Medzilaborce and the President of the Foundation, Archibald L. Gillies in New York. The delegation consisted of: Ján Bicko, Eugen Gališin, Michal Turok-Heteš, and Vladimír Protivňák. The meeting was concerned with the official name of the museum and the complications accompanying the reconstruction of the building.
1991 The Municipal Authority in Medzilaborce provided the newly built Community Centre for the purposes of the Museum; the Museum acquired 2/3 of the building premises in sublease. Michal Cihlář, Rudo Prekop, Michal Bycko, and architect Štefan Pacák participated in preparing the interior of the Museum. The Foundation was informed of the premises for the Museum being ready.
May 1991 Paul Warhola posted a few of his paintings and paintings of his son James as a gift to the emerging Museum.
30th June 1991 The grand opening of the Museum of Modern Art of the Warhol Family (MMURW) took place.
1st September 1991 The Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic in Bratislava officially established the Museum as a separate legal entity.
9th September 1991 An Austrian company transported 13 originals by Andy Warhol in Medzilaborce. The consignment was escorted by Jay Shriver, the then Warhol´s assistant, a member of the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts in New York City.
5th October 1991 The ceremonial opening of the exhibition „Andy Warhol in the Country of His Parents“ took place. The exhibition was attended by John Warhol and Ladislav Snopko, the Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic. Part of the exhibition also contained the works by Paul and James Warhola.
A special train was dispatched from Prague to Medzilaborce , the"WARHOLTOUR". The exhibition was attended by over 2000 visitors.
1994 A second museum in the world dedicated to Andy Warhol was set up in Pittsburgh.
1997 The name of the Museum changed to the ANDY WARHOL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART IN MEDZILABORCE (AWMMA).
1st April 2002 AWMMA was defined in the Deed of Foundation issued by the Prešov Self-governing Region as a trans-national, collector's, scientific-research, cultural and educational institution in the area of museum- and gallery-related activities.
16th November 2002 Inauguration of the 230 centimetre high statue of Andy Warhol by Prof. Juraj Bartusz was held in front of the Museum.
22nd June 2006 James Warhol promoted his book „Visiting My Famous Uncle“ in the Museum in Medzilaborce by a handful of soil from Miková.
24th December 2010 One of the founders of the Museum, John Warhol, the elder brother of Andy Warhol, died.
2011 The memorial plaque to John Warhol was unveiled during the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Museum.
29th January 2014 Paul Warhola, Andy Warhol's eldest brother, died.
In the year 2016, the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce celebrated the 25th anniversary of its establishment. The nephew of Andy Warhol, Donald Warhol and his wife and son Andy, visited the Museum on this occasion.