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Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow)

12 Volkhonka St., Moscow (tel.: +7 495 609-95-20, +7 495 697-95-78, +7 495 697-74-12), Metro station: "Kropotkinskaya".

Map

http://www.arts-museum.ru

Laying of the Museum foundation stone took place on the 17th of August, 1898. Many years of huge and creative work preceded this remarkable event. The Moscow Duma had passed the territory of the former Kolymazhny Court adjacent to the Kremlin for the construction by the time of the solemn ceremony of stone laying in the presence of Emperor Nikolas II and members of the royal family. The regulation concerning the Committee on the Construction of the Museum was adopted. The Museum official name was approved to be the Museum of Fine Arts named after Emperor Alexander III. The architectural competition was organized to choose the Museum design. The construction works started a month before the laying of foundation stone and, what is important is that the Committee on the Construction of the Museum already possessed the substantial part of the collections.

The Museum was founded on the basis of the Cabinet (Museum) of Fine Arts and Antiquities of Moscow University as an educational and public institution where under the unified scientific programme the most important periods of the art history from ancient times to the New Age were represented as plaster casts, models, pictorial and galvanic copies. The Museum was the first Russian institution of this type. Projects of founding such a kind of museum were repeatedly published in press by the princess Z. A. Volkonskaya and S. P. Shevirev (1831), prof. К. К. Hertz (1858), N. V. Isakov, the director of the Moscow Public Museum and Rumyantsev Museum (1864).

The initiator of the Museum founding (1893) and its first director (1911–1913) was I. V. Tsvetaev (1847–1913), the honoured professor of the Moscow University, doctor of the Roman philology and historian of art. His project developed the main ideas of his predecessors.

The contest for the best museum design was announced in the end of 1896 and attracted 19 architects from the different Russian towns. The Board of the University chose one of the contest participants, the Moscow architect Roman Klein (1858–1924), who was awarded with a golden medal. He developed the final design meeting the requirements of the Board and the Committee on the Construction of the Museum of Fine Arts attached to the Moscow University. The building was being constructed according to the latest museum requirements and architectural engineering. It was conceived in the style of an ancient classical temple on the high podium with the Ionic colonnade along the facade. Its interior blended the architectural styles of various historical epochs reflecting the exhibited pieces. The engineers I. I. Rerberg and V. G. Shukhov participated in the construction.

The Museum was mainly founded owing to the financial support of the founder members of the Committee and other donators, whose number initially exceeded 40 people including А. Е. Armand, S. I. Mamontov, А. D. Mein, F. О. Schechtel, А. А. Scherbatov, D. А. Khomyakov, Z. N. Yusupov and F. F. Yusupov. The associate-chairman of the Committee was Y. S. Nechaev-Maltsov (1834–1913), a major manufacturer, owner of the Gus-Khrustalny glass works, the Moscow University alumnus. He contributed 2 million roubles (two thirds of the total cost of the Museum) into the construction and acquisition of works of art.

The Chairman of the Committee was the Grand Duke Sergey Aleksandrovich (1857–1905), whose participation and great interest for the Museum construction gave the event the due significance and won popularity among the capital nobility and high officials.

The building was erected in 1904. At various times I. V. Tsvetaev invited the Russian scholars such as D. V. Ainalov, N. P. Kondakov, V. K. Malmberg, B. A. Turaev, and artists V. М. Vasnetsov, V. D. Polenov, A. Y. Golovin, I. I. Nivinsky to work for the Museum. In 1890s to 1911, plaster casts and other copies were ordered and reproduced from the originals at workshops abroad. Some of them were copied for the first time. The unique collection of the Egyptian antiquities (more than 6 thousand items) became the gem of the Museum's collection. Acquired by V. S. Golenischev, the Russian Egyptologist and scientist, it was purchased by the government and passed on to the Museum between 1909 and 1911. The Museum had other originals alike: the Italian paintings and objects of decorative art of the 13th to 15th centuries formerly owned by M. S. Schekin, the numismatics collection.

The solemn opening ceremony of the Museum of Fine Arts named after Emperor Alexander III took place on the 31st of May, 1912.

In April 1923, the People's Commissariat on Education adopted a resolution on re-organizing the University Museum of Fine Arts by setting up in Moscow a Central Museum of Old Western Art on the basis of Western European collection of the Moscow Public and Rumyantsev Museums. The latter was no longer under the authority of the University and became the self-governed museum of art. In 1924, the Museum acquired paintings from the former private collections of G. A. Brokar, D. I. Shchukin, from the State Museum Resources. Some of the paintings were received from the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) museums. This enabled the Museum staff and its Director N. I. Romanov to present the first scientific exposition and open its first galleries on the 10th of November 1924.

From 1924 to 1930s, a great number of paintings of the Western European masters were passed to the Museum from the nationalised Moscow estates, the dissolved Icon and Painting Museum named after I. S. Ostroukhov, History Museum, Kremlin Museums, and Tretyakov Gallery. Several lots of paintings were received from the Hermitage, other Leningrad museums, and from the Museum Resources of Leningrad. As a result the nucleus of the Art Gallery of Old Western Art was formed in the Museum. Over one thousand of cuneiform plates and about three thousand of other monuments of Ancient East from the former Institute of Classical Oriental Studies became part of the oriental collection of the Museum.

In 1932, the Museum was renamed and became The State Museum of Fine Arts. In 1937, it was named after A. S. Pushkin.

In 1941 to 1944, the greater part of the Museum resources were evacuated to Novosibirsk and Solikamsk. In 1944, the reconstruction of the Museum building started. The building was damaged by bombings during the war and work on the exposition (opened on the 3rd of October, 1946) commenced under the guidance of S. D. Merkurov, its director and sculptor, prof. B. R. Wipper, the deputy Director, and A. A.Gouber, the head curator. The popularization and acquisition work started again, as well as the archaeological excavations, carried out by the Museum in the Crimea and Taman since 1927.

In 1948, when the Museum of Modern Western Art was closed and its collection was divided between Moscow and Leningrad, the Museum acquired 300 paintings and over 60 sculptures of the Western-European and American masters of the second half of the 19th and the early 20th centuries, mainly the works of the French Impressionists and postimpressionists from the collections of two Moscow collectors S. I. Shchukin and I. A. Morozov, a large selection of graphic art and their archive. This acquisition expanded the chronological borders of the collections to that time and brought the Museum a new fame.

From 1949 to 1953, the Museum exposition was curtailed; its premises were occupied with the huge "Exposition of Gifts to I. V. Stalin from the peoples of the USSR and foreign countries".

In 1955, the beginning of the post-Stalin era was marked with the demonstration of masterpieces from the Dresden Art Gallery, saved by the Soviet soldiers from destruction in the World War II and fully restored by the Pushkin Museum experts. From this moment the scope of the exhibition activity of the Museum is continually expanding. During the Museum lifetime over 700 exhibitions have been held, showing works both from its resources and from the collections of foreign Museums.

In 1985, at the initiative of I. S. Zilberstein, the Soviet collector and doctor of the art history and I. A. Antonova, the Museum Director, the Museum of Private Collections was founded as a scientific department of the Museum. On the 24th of January, 1994, it was opened for the public in the house No. 14, Volkhonka Street, next to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Once this building was the left wing of the Golitsyns' estate in the 17th to 19th centuries, but it was rebuilt many times since then. In 1987, its restoration and reconstruction started.

The Golitsyns' estate was built between 1756 and 1761 for the general-admiral and commander-in-chief of the Russian fleet Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn (1681–1764) between Volkhonka St. and Maly Znamensky Lane according to the design of S. I. Chevakinsky, the distinguished architect of St. Petersburg. The high stone gate with forged folds is all that survived till today from the initial building layout. The multistep attic with the stone Golitsyns' coat of arms rises upon the joining arc. According to the estate design, typical for the first half of the 18th century, the main building and two side wings formed the main yard — court of honour — with the flower garden in the centre. The original general view has survived to the present day, although in 1774, the estate was reconstructed upon the project of the famous architect Matvey Kazakov. The reconstruction was timed to the visit to Moscow of Catherine II, aimed to stay in the estate. Kazakov added the house and wings the features of the early Classicism, which are now vivid only in the right wing, decorated with a four-colonnaded portico.

In 1928 to 1929, the main estate building was built on with two additional floors, which changed its look absolutely. However, the substantial changes related to the left wing, which is now housed with the Museum of Private Collections. This building transformed repeatedly in the 18th and 19th centuries and, between 1890 and 1892, it was totally rebuilt by the architect V. P. Zagorsky and became a lodging-house named "the Knyazhy Court". He turned the main four-storey facade of building with its original look to face Maly Znamensky Lane and the facade of a two-storey building was (demolished in 1960) along Volkhonka St. The general architectural aspect turned to be rather commonplace, having become a lodging house, it lost its architectural bond with the main estate complex.

In 1988 to 1993, the building was reconstructed for the purpose of the Pushkin Museum. The new facade (the former end side) faced Volkhonka St., the inner layout was also newly arranged. The main motives of the building image (the heavy mid-facade and the utmost importance of the central stairs) remind of the main building of the Pushkin Museum. According to the idea of architects both facades should constitute the architectural ensemble, being looked at from the opposite side of Volkhonka St.

The fact that the Museum of Private Collections was to be housed in the Golitsyns' estate is rather symbolic. It was there, where in five spacious halls of the main building, on the 26th of January, 1865 the opening of the Museum of works of art took place. It contained the pieces of art collected by the diplomat Mikhail Aleksandrovich Golitsyn (1804–1860) during his work in Spain and Italy, Florence, Rome. The Museum was named in honour of the collector Golitsyn. However, later his son Sergey Mikhailovich lost interest in the Museum and decided to sell it, in 1886, the collection of artworks together with a number of books was acquired by the Hermitage, the rest books were received by the Public Library attached to the Rumyantsev Museum.

In 1877, S. M. Golitsyn moved to lodge the ground floor of the main building. The left wing was also reconstructed as residential. Thus, the old estate became the shelter for many distinguished men of art. The playwright А. N. Ostrovsky (there he wrote "Without a Dowry", "The Hasty Heart", "Artists and Admirers"), the professor of zoology of Moscow University S. А. Usov, the law professor of Moscow University B. N. Chicherin and one of the ideologists of the Russian Slavophilism, the poet and essay writer I. S. Aksakov lived in the main building till 1886. In addition, the Moscow Conservatoire and the Russian Choral Society were temporarily housed here between 1894 and 1898.

In 1903, the owner of the building changed for the first time, it was acquired by the Moscow Art Society for the Painting, Sculpture and Architecture School attached to it.

In the end of 1908 and beginning of 1909, the sixth exhibition of "The Union of Russian Artists" and at the same time the last shared exhibition of the Moscow and St. Petersburg groups took place in the halls of the house No. 14 in Volkhonka St.

In 1909, the house was rented by Moscow City People's University named after A. L. Shanyavsky. In 1904, Maxim Gorky stayed in the left wing, which was the lodging-house called "the Knyazhy Court". V. I. Surikov lived here since 1910. In 1911, Leonid Osipovich Pasternak, the teacher of the Painting, Sculpture and Architecture School, got the flat No. 9, where he and his family lived till 1921. In 1925 to 1936, the Communist Academy (since 1924 the Socialist Academy) was in the main building of the Golitsyns' estate.

In 1936 to 1960, the History Institute of Academy of Sciences of the USSR was located here. Now the Human Institute and the Philosophy Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences are situated in the building. After 1917, the Big Soviet Encyclopaedia Publishers housed the right wing, which was occupied with the estate accommodation for two centuries, then it was housed with the Linguistics Institute of Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the "Issues of Linguistics" journal. Now the building belongs to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

In 1996, The Educational Art Museum was established. It was the new Museum department, housed in the Russian State University for the Humanities in Chayanov Street (opened on the 30th of May, 1997). Its exposition contains the plaster casts, which did not fit in the main exposition of the Museum, or their doublets.

At present, the collection of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts constitutes more than 560000 works of art: paintings and sculptures, works of graphic art, applied art, art photography, archaeological monuments and numismatic items. Documents on the history of the Museum, scientific and epistolary heritage of its founders, other museum prominent individuals and important art historians and artists are kept there. Archives of some other museums whose collections were passed to the Pushkin Museum are preserved as well. In 1991, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts was registered in "the State Register of Particularly Valuable Cultural Heritage of the Russian Federation". The Museum initiates various work with children to popularize the history of art. The Museum is publishing research almanacs, catalogues of the collection and exhibitions, guide books, albums, series of brochures "To assist school education" on the basis of its collection etc. Since 1981, on the initiative and with participation of the great musician S. T. Richter the Museum has been holding the international music festival "December Nights". The Museum has its own restoration studios and a research library.

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Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts



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