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Top 10 Moscow’s Art & Design galleries

Moscow has as many museums, art galleries and design centres as many other European capitals. There are also countless public and privately-owned exhibition venues, some known the world over, that millions of people visit every year. From the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art to the Multimedia Art Museum, and from the Tretyakov Gallery and Solyanka National Gallery, to the Artplay Design Centre and Winzavod Contemporary Art Centre. After you’ve been to the Salone del Mobile.Milano Moscow, here are ten exhibition spaces that you just can’t miss for a taste of Russian modern and avant-garde art, design and architecture.


Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Founded in 2008 by Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is a place for people, art, and ideas to create history. Garage is the first philanthropic institution in Russia to create a comprehensive public mandate for contemporary art. Providing opportunities for dialogue, as well as the production of new work and ideas, the Museum’s extensive program of exhibitions, events, education, research, and publishing reflects current developments in Russian and international culture. Central to these activities is the Museum’s collection, which is the only public archive in the country related to the development of Russian contemporary art from the 1950s through to the present. The Museum is a renovation of the 1960s Vremena Goda restaurant, a prefabricated concrete pavilion which has been derelict for more than two decades. OMA's design for the 5,400 m2 building includes exhibition galleries on two levels, a creative center for children, shop, café, auditorium, offices, and roof terrace. The design preserves original Soviet-era elements, including a mosaic wall, tiles, and brick, while incorporating a range of innovative architectural and curatorial devices.


Tretyakov Gallery

One of the world’s foremost museums, Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery is an unmissable stop for art lovers, because it depicts Russian history more effectively than any text book could possibly do. Fir most Westerners, Russian art is a closed book until the 20th Century, with the appearance of giants such as Kandinsky, Chagall and Malevich. The Tretyakov offers the chance to discover the rich tradition from which these great artists sprang onto the world stage. The gallery has 62 rooms and 100,000 works charting the development of Russian painting from the 10th to the 19th Century.

The New Tretyakov Gallery on Krimskii Val houses an impressive 170,000 art works. The main entrance to the gallery is through the Central House of Artists, the modern cube-shaped building situated in the Muzeon Park of Arts. The collection houses several genuine masterpieces of contemporary and avant-garde art. Kandinsky’s Composition VII and Malevich’s Black Square are among the principal highlights. One wing of the gallery is dedicated to “socialist realism”, the officially enforced artistic and cultural movement of the former Soviet Union, whose function was to extol the role of the working classes and the principles of Marxism/Leninism.

Over the coming years the Tretyakov Gallery will undergo a major renovation, and the design of the new complex will resemble a ship pointing towards the Kremlin. The consultant behind the plans to develop the museum area is Rem Koolhaas, whilst the facades of the new building, designed by SPEECH Architectural Office and coordinated by Sergej Tchoban, founder of the Berlin Museum of Architectural Drawing, are reminiscent of the Futurist movement.


Museum of Modern Art

Moscow Museum of Modern Art is the first state museum in Russia that concentrates its activities exclusively on the art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Today the Museum is an energetic institution that plays an important part on the Moscow art scene. The Museum founding director in 1999 was Zurab Tsereteli, President of the Russian Academy of Arts. His private collection of more than 2.000 works by important 20th century masters was the core of the Museum's permanent display. Later on, the Museum's keepings were enriched considerably, and now this is one of the largest and most impressive collections of modern and contemporary Russian art, which continues to grow through acquisitions and donations. Today the Museum has three venues in the historic centre of Moscow. Every year, the Museum organizes single-artist shows, group exhibitions and conceptual displays by well-known masters as well as by emerging artists or the ones that need to be rediscovered. The Museum's permanent collection represents main stages in the development of the 20th-century art, from the classics of the Russian avant-garde to contemporary masters. Among the exhibits one can find works by Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, Aristarkh Lentulov, Vladimir Tatlin, Pavel Filonov, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexander Archipenko, Niko Pirosmani, Oscar Rabin, Valery Koshlyakov, Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov and many others. The holdings also include pieces by well-known Western masters, such as Pablo Picasso, Fernand Lager, Joan Mirò, Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dalì, Henri Rousseau, Arnaldo Pomodoro.


Solyanka VPA Exhibition Hall

The National Gallery at Solyanka showcases all that’s moving and shaking on the art scene: every form of art performance (including certain modern dance varieties kindred to the performance genre), artist’s film, film d’auteur, animated film and kinetic sculpture. Solyanka, a classic artist-run space, has exhibited many a signature modern artist and art project from every part of the world in the years that Fyodor Pavlov-Andreyevich, himself an artist, has been the gallery’s director. In the genre of art performance, Solyanka has hosted Marina Abramovich, Tehching Hsieh, Vito Acconci, Valie Export and the Gelitin Group, among others. In video art, Francis Alys, Sigalit Landau and AES+F. In film, some of the marquee names for Solyanka are Andrey Tarkovsky, Sergey Parajanov and Tonino Guerra. In animation, Yuri Norshtein, Hayao Miyazaki and Zbigniew Rybczynski.


National Centre for Contemporary Arts

The National Centre for Contemporary Arts is Moscow's socialist art Mecca with nearly 4,700 exhibits: paintings, graphic art and sculpture. But the centre is not all about socialist art, exhibiting modern art as well. It has a large mediatheque with numerous textual and visual materials devoted to both socialist and modern art.


ArtPlay Design Center

ArtPlay and Winzavod across the street could compete over artists and visitors, but they made a deal in good time. ArtPlay chose to prime itself as a design centre, emphasizing architecture and interior design and it is dedicated to art shows. The show Van Gogh – Paintings Alive, featuring interactive installations based on Van Gogh paintings, drew huge crowds. The success story was repeated in 2016 with similar multimedia shows based on Monet and Cezanne. Another multimedia show, Michelangelo – The Creation, took place in 2017: the legendary frescoes of the Sistine Chapel came alive on big screens.


Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art

Founded in 2007 by Sofia and Roman Trotsenko, Winzavod is one of the first and biggest private contemporary art centers in Russia. The centre supports Russia’s contemporary art by uniting all areas of culture in one space that is open to public and creating a comfortable environment for its development. Leading Moscow contemporary art galleries, workshops of artists, designers and photographers, cafes, show rooms, studios for kids, a bookstore, and many other facilities populate Winzavod.


M'ARS Contemporary Art Centre
M'ARS, one of Moscow's first post-Soviet art galleries, opened in 1988. It led an untroubled existence until 2015, exhibiting modern art, hosting the ComMission comic strip festival every spring, and pursuing its M'ARSovo Polye (Field of Mars) project to support young artists. At the beginning of 2015, the management decided to fully reformat the art space and shift focus to audiovisual performances. The M'ARS curators came up with the idea of an "interactive labyrinth," where interactive installations come to life at the touch of a finger. M'ARS recruits artists from France, as well as Russia, for projects like these.


Multimedia Art Museum

The Moscow House of Photography, which would later evolve into MAMM, opened in the Russian capital in 1996, when the art of photography was seeing a comeback. The museum was the initiative of Olga Sviblova, a documentary film director and curator of notable Russian art exhibitions abroad. The museum adds new exhibits all the time, including video installations and other high-tech displays, drawing huge crowds of visitors. Oggi, questo museo è soprattuto dedicato alla presentazione e allo sviluppo dell’arte contemporanea legata alle nuove tecnologie multimediali: è stato spazio espositivo di Mosca a ospitare i lavori di Helmut Newton, Peter Lindbergh e David Lynch.


When Soviet monuments were dismantled en masse in the city in the early 1990s, Moscow authorities decided to move them all to a designated site right behind the Central House of Artists. Modern sculptures were added later on, and the park eventually evolved into an outdoor museum. MUZEON, Moscow's largest art space of 24 hectares, is very much in vogue with the capital's creative crowd. MUZEON welcomes events in every genre, running the gamut from flower shows to poetry readings, and from experimental theatre performances to Electronica music concerts. MUZEON has its own theatre, electronic library, and cinema.