Since its inception, the collection of Gerard Meulensteen, the founder of the Danubiana, has been built up in two parallel lines: the Meulensteen Collection and the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum Collection. The new status of the museum is based on long-term loans from the Meulensteen Collection.
Gerard Meulensteen has been assembling his collection since the mid-1980s. It is built up on personal contacts and friendships with artists, on a deep emotional relationship to art, originally of a personal nature. When the idea of establishing a museum was put into effect and the Danubiana was founded, Gerard Meulensteen adopted a new approach and the idea of collecting was transformed into an institutionalised form. He had a clear idea of presenting the collection to the public: the works must emerge from depositories and enter exhibition halls to accomplish the mission. However, he was not primarily motivated by artistic criteria or stylistic aspects but by promoting good art and the possibility of bringing joy and pleasure through art. The main aim of the collector has been gradually achieved: the collection should serve the public. It now includes several hundred artworks: paintings, sculptures and prints, and represents a wide range of artists. It exclusively focuses on modern and contemporary art. The collection is divided into three parts: international art, Dutch art and Slovak art. The primary objective was not to represent all styles and currents in art, but to focus on extraordinary artistic figures. The collection selectively represents outstanding artists of post-war abstract art, Art Informel, Pop art and Neo-Expressionism.
Emphasis on major artistic figures participating in joint exhibitions creates opportunities for unique contributions each artist may bring. Displayed side by side, the works inevitably communicate with one another. It is not a dialogue within one period or style but a variety of dialogues among excellent and unique artistic figures. Painterly qualities reflect a variety of artistic tools, colours, lines, forms, and expression ranging from vigorous expressiveness to lyrical tones, from urban to social aspects.
The international collection is represented by the works of outstanding artists such as Paul Jenkins, Takashi Murakami, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Claes Oldenburg, Pierre Alechinsky, Walasse Ting, Jill Moser, Sam Francis, Betty Woodman, Arman, Jim Dine, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Niki de Saint Phalle, Kiro Urdin, Marcus Prachensky, Günter Damisch, Mike Cloud, Robert Combas and many others.
The Dutch collection comprises the best of Dutch post-war modern art – artists from the famous Cobra group and its circle. It focuses on the work of Karel Appel, Corneille and Constant, Lucebert, Kees van Bohemen, Gerard Grasser, Jan Sierhuis, Ger Lataster, Ad Snijders and other protagonists.
The process of a gradual transformation of the collection took place in the 1990s when Gerard Meulensteen became familiar with Slovak art. He has steadily expanded his collection to include major figures representing Slovak art of the second half of the 20th century, placing great emphasis on contemporary art. Particular attention has been paid to the promotion of young artists not only by acquiring their works, but also by awarding them the Meulensteen Prize for Young Artists.
The Slovak part of the collection covers several generations. It includes major representatives of the oldest generation – Vincent Hložník, Tibor Bártfay, Erna Masarovičová and Viera Kraicová – the pillars of Slovak post-war art.
The Mikuláš Galanda Group and the Confrontations movement played the crucial role in continuing the broken tradition of European and Slovak modern art in the late 1950s and early 1960s, represented by the works of Vladimír Kompánek, Milan Paštéka, Rudolf Fila, Jozef Jankovič. Other artists included in the collection are Miroslav Cipár, Vladimír Popovič and Rudo Sikora. The largest number of works come from the middle generation, the artists exploring diverse forms of Neo-Expressionism, abstraction and figuration, such as the painters Peter Pollág, Ján Kelemen, Svetozár Ilavský, Vojtech Kolenčík, Ivan Pavle, Ján Hlavatý, Daniel Bidelnica, Robert Hromec, and sculptors Oto Bachorík, Milan Lukáč, Viťo Bojňanský and others. The collection of graphic art includes excellent works by Vladimír Gažovič.
The collection of works created by the young generation is artistically differentiated. It represents highly individual and successful artists who have made their artistic contribution: Marek Ormandík, Erik Binder, Viktor Frešo, Juraj Kollár, Marcel Mališ, Dan Meluzin, Štefan Papčo, Dorota Sadovská and Ondrej Zimka Jr.