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Shchusev State Museum of Architecture (Moscow)

5 Vozdvizhenka St., Moscow (tel.: +7 495 691-21-09, +7 495 697-38-74), Metro stations: "Biblioteka Imeni Lenina", "Aleksandrovsky Sad", "Arbatskaya", "Borovitskaya".

Map

http://www.muar.ru

The Shchusev State Museum of Architecture is the first in the world specialized museum of architecture. It was founded by initiative of the Union of Soviet Architects in 1934. Its collections reflect thousand years of the history of Russian architecture; they are indeed a national treasure. By a decree of the President of Russia dated the 24th of January, 1995, it got a status of an "extra valuable object of cultural heritage of people of the Russian Federation".

An idea to establish an architectural museum in Russia had been started up in the 19th century, but the Moscow Archaeological Society put forward a practical task only after the famous "Proclamations on Art Conservation" was published in March, 1917. This was made by the Commission for Arts headed by М. Gorky. The Society had a large data base of dimensions for architectural monuments and included the Commission for Preservation of Ancient Buildings. Such architects as I. V. Rylsky, Z. I. Ivanov, I. V. Baklanov were members of the Commission.

In May, 1918, one of the urgent tasks of the architectural department of the Commission for Preservation of Ancient Buildings of Mossovet (city administration of Moscow in Soviet period) (N. A. Vsevolzhsky (the Head), I. V. Zholtovsky, N. V. Markovnikov, I. V. Rylsky, A. V. Shchusev) again was: "...creation of a grandiose museum, the permanent exhibition of results of studying the monuments of the Moscow Region — pictures, engravings, dimensions, photographs, models, plaster casts, etc. A new kind of museum has to be created where people can learn to understand the beauty of architecture; we have to create passages, malls, galleries where passers-by will perceive intermittently, unwittingly the beauty of the crumbling all around treasures of architecture by means of works of art… There is still no museum of Russian art of architecture and it is our duty to create it."

In 1919, a special commission was formed to establish the museum. It consisted of representatives of Narkompros (People's Commissariat for Education) and Mossovet (N. V. Baklanov, I. P. Mashkov, I. V. Rylsky, G. N. Sukhanov, A.V. Shchusev). The Commission interpreted the mission of the future museum more generally as creation of "architecture and art resources" of the Republic including both historical materials and the most notable projects of modern architecture. To "promote the young talents" it was supposed that the museum would purchase their drafts and dimensions' data of artistic value. It was announced that the new museum would obtain a building of the former English Club in Tverskaya Street where people could bring such items as plans, drawings, prospects of cities, models, engravings, photographs of architectural monuments. It was also proposed to arrange showings of contests' projects there.

In April of 1919, the Commission worked at a question of opening several museums of architecture (the Moscow museum should be opened first) and drew up a scheme of recording, restoration and storage of "undamaged artistic fragments of ancient architecture" such as mouldings, platbands, grids, frescoes, tiles, bas-reliefs, emblems, etc. Founded in 1919, the Narkompros's Department of Arts and Architecture (headed by I. V. Zholtovsky) being the centre of art and architecture of the Republic continued to work on the Museum of Architecture. The Department aimed to spread knowledge about architecture and introduce the basics of architecture for people: "The revolutionary epoch has shaken the populace and awaken the consciousness of common people, and, doubtless, it opens for architecture the possibilities still unknown. This is a hard and long-term work that requires all our architectural powers to unite in pursuit of this lofty aim. The first step will be an organization of a specialized State Museum of Architecture."

The idea of foundation of the Museum of Architecture was taken from the table again only after the Union of Soviet Architects was formed. In June 1933, at the meeting of its executive board including L. A. Vesnin, V. A. Vesnin, I. I. Leonidov, M. Y. Ginzburg, D. F. Fridman, and K. F. Alabyan after the report delivered by I. V. Rylsky a decision was taken to found in Moscow the Museum of Architecture. The Commission of the new organization consisted of such architects as I. V. Rylsky, V. S. Balikhin, V. N. Semenov, A. V. Shchusev, the historians of architecture D. E. Arkin, D. M. Aranovich, as well as the representatives of the Institute of Architecture and Construction, Mossovet, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Permanent All-union Building Exhibition, the Narkompros, and "Moscow Construction" Magazine. It was decided to use the Building Exhibition as a basis for the future museum: a new institution had to become a part of it. But this decision was corrected after the creation of the All-Union Academy of Architecture under the aegis of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR in October 1933. It had to be the main Soviet establishment with educational and research functions in the sphere of architecture. As a part of it the Museum of Architecture was founded. It was situated within the former Donskoy Monastery. The collection of the new Museum was started with search for original projects, drafts, engravings in the State Museum Resources, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts, the State Museum of History, and the State Hermitage and in other museums, institutions and private collections. The collections of the Moscow Archaeological Society (1909–1919) and Central State Restoration Studios (1917–1934) became an important part of the Museum's collections and laid the foundation of the country's greatest database of dimensions for monuments of Russian architecture. A lot of materials on the history of Soviet architecture (mainly projects of large contests of 1920s and 1930s) came from the archives of the Permanent All-union Building Exhibition. Thereby the Museum turned to the modernity.

In 1964, pursuant to the order of the Gosgrazhdanstroy the State Museum of Architecture included resources of the Shchusev Museum of Russian Architecture (the latter was founded in 1945 as a part of the Gosstroy's system) and got the name of A. V. Shchusev. For more than fifty years, researches had been carried out, new exhibits had been gathered, and numerous expositions had been held in 5 Vozdvizhenka St. and Donskoy Monastery. Scientific works, reports of conferences, monographs, catalogues of Russian and international exhibitions are the evidences of high professionalism of the Museum's staff who dedicated their lives to research and popularization of the history of Russian architecture. The problems of the last decade have only slowed down the pace of the Museum's development, but haven't extinguished the scientists' sincere affection to the objects of their research.

The new directions of Museum's work include an arrangement of architectural contests and conferences, assistance in restoration of architectural monuments and foundation of personal museums of outstanding Russian architects.

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Shchusev State Museum of Architecture



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