The birth of the gallery Alkatraz took place in 1996. The gallery emerged in the context of the multicultural center Metelkova mesto, in former barracks of ex-Yugoslavian army. The gallery is located in a building that suffered extensive damage in the period of withdrawal of old and advent of new authorities. For a long time, it stood derelict and hence the leaders-in-spirit of Metelkova were not interested in its use. The main politics of Metelkova was primarily to encourage joint projects of rebuilding and re-adaptation and to develop cultural and artistic activities, the common principle being 'all for one and one for all'. Inspired by this slogan, large numbers of young participants contributed significantly to shaping of its new look.
When building of new houses almost ceased in the 80's, the city of Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) faced serious problem (which is still not solved), namely the shortage of housing. Therefore artists have difficulties at obtaining studios. Metelkova proved to be a temporary salvation for a very large number of young artists, still debutants in ruthless world of artistic politics. With joint and individual projects, derelict and damaged premises at Metelkova were renovated, thus providing a temporary shelter for many a youth in search for a place to live and work at their art.
As studios were slowly filled by artists, there was a growing need for a gallery. In the beginning of 1997, an informal group of artists gathered, mostly around some students of the Academy of Fine Arts (the brains behind the project were Boštjan Drinovec and Nataša Tajnik), and formation of the program of the gallery began. At that time, the goal was primarily to present home production of Metelkova.
In 1998, the gallery obtained two curators, historians of art Bojana Piškur and Jadranka Ljubičič, and the program was reorganized. Besides exhibiting authors from Metelkova, the gallery began to feature works of other, more recognized artists. In time, it expanded its horizons by hosting foreign authors. Since 2000, the gallery is managed by the curator Jadranka Ljubičič.
Alkatraz is a part of non-profit cultural association KUD Mreža. The gallery has been sponsored in the past by the Soros Foundation from the time of its formation until its withdrawal from Slovenia. Since 1998, its has been supported also by the city of Ljubljana and by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Slovenia.