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. Since its inauguration, the Museum has expanded its strategies and achieved a high level of public acknowledgement. Today the Museum is an energetic institution that plays an important part on the Moscow art scene.
The Museum was unveiled on December 15, 1999, with the generous support of the Moscow City Government, Moscow City Department of Culture. Its founding director 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 five venues in the historic centre of Moscow. The main building is situated in Petrovka Street, in the former 18th-century mansion house of merchant Gubin, designed by the renowned neoclassical architect Matvey Kazakov. Apart from that, the Museum has three splendid exhibition venues: a vast five-storey building in Ermolaevsky Lane, a spacious gallery in Tverskoy Boulevard, the beautiful building of the State Museum of Modern Art of the Russian Academy of Arts, and Zurab Tsereteli Studio Museum.
The Museum’s permanent collection represents main stages in formation and development of the avant-garde. The majority of exhibits are by Russian artists, but the display also includes some works by renowned Western masters. For example, graphic pieces by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró and Giorgio De Chirico are on view, along with sculptures by Salvador Dalí, Armand and Arnaldo Pomodoro, paintings by Henri Rousseau and Françoise Gilot, and installations by Yukinori Yanaga.
Within the Museum’s holdings, a special emphasis is put on the assembly of Russian avant-garde. Many works have been acquired in European and American galleries and auction houses, and thus returned from abroad to form an integral part of Russian cultural legacy. The highlights include paintings and objects by Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, Pavel Filonov and Wassily Kandinsky, Vladimir Tatlin and David Burliuk, as well as sculptures by Alexander Archipenko and Ossip Zadkine. Besides that, the Museum owns a unique collection of works by the famous Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani.
An extensive section of the permanent display is devoted to Non-Conformist art of the 1960s-1980s. The creative activity of these masters, now well-known in Russia and abroad, was then in opposition to the official Soviet ideology. Among them are Ilya Kabakov, Anatoly Zverev, Vladimir Yakovlev, Vladimir Nemukhin, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, Oscar Rabin, Dmitry Krasnopevtsev, Leonid Schwartzman, Oleg Tselkov, and more.
The Museum readily supports the newest artistic developments and fills up its collection with works by our contemporaries. Now this part of the display presents pieces by Boris Orlov, Dmitry A. Prigov, Valery Koshlyakov, Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov, Oleg Kulik, Viktor Pivovarov, Andrey Bartenev, and many others.
The Museum’s extensive exhibition strategy aims at showing the artistic process of the 20th and 21st centuries at its maximum span and diversity. In all three buildings of the Museum, one can visit 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.
Apart from expanding the permanent collection and organizing multiple temporary exhibitions, the Museum engages in various other activities, including research and conservation work, book publishing, and others. The Museum publishes «DI» (Dialog Iskusstv / Dialogue of Arts) magazine, heir to the authoritative «Dekorativnoe Iskusstvo» (Decorative Art). One of the Museum’s priorities is to promote young and emerging artists, bringing them into contemporary artistic process. With this purpose the Museum launched a special education program — the «Independent Workshops» School of Contemporary Art. The two-year schedule includes practical activities in creative workshops, as well as lectures on contemporary art, studies of the art market and the new technologies in visual arts, and a broad spectrum of issues on today’s culture.