Galleries and exhibition halls

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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. The bolster the concept, the creators of ARTPLAY opened specialized shops, selling pretty much everything a designer may ever need. However, plenty of space at ARTPLAY is dedicated to art shows, not only shops. 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.

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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, which is frequented by Art House fans. It offers free master classes. When it is warm out, you can sometimes see people dancing the Salsa or the Cha-cha-cha in the park. Those are beginners, who take dance lessons at MUZEON.

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It was not easy for Nina Gomiashvili, an actress by training and gallerist by vocation, to find a permanent home for her photo gallery. She opened her Pobeda (Victory) Gallery at the WINZAVOD Centre for Contemporary Art together with art curator Irina Meglinskaya in 2007. Then the gallery moved to another fashionable art district, Red October, and Gomiashvili took over as its sole manager. Eventually, at the end of 2012, Pobeda moved permanently in on the third floor of the GUM department store, adding a touch of arty class to Moscow's premier emporium in Red Square. Pobeda features unusual photographic works by Russian and foreign artists. One of the shows that put Pobeda in the spotlight was the photo exhibition of Ellen von Unwerth, formerly a German fashion model.  

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Radical artist Oleg Kulik, who would later make a splash with his zany act Dog-Man, worked at REGINA Gallery, based at WINZAVOD Centre for Contemporary Art, for four years back in the 1990s, when places like this were few and far between in Moscow. Kulik was first the art director, then a resident artist at Regina. In the 90s, REGINA gained notoriety among Moscow's art fans with its controversial project Leopards Break into the Temple, when real leopards strolled around in the crowd of visitors. Semion Faibisovich, once labelled an "underground artist" by Soviet culture officials, continues to exhibit at REGINA. Moscow's "new wave" artists also love to have their shows at REGINA.

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You can expect this art space smack in the centre of Moscow to be crowded at all times. No wonder when SOLYANKA VPA is not playing some hilarious animated cartoons, it will play a quality documentary. The acronym VPA in the name stands for Video, Performance and Animation. Art performances and video art are the genres favoured by SOLYANKA VPA.

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The Sakharov Centre, opened in 1996, was originally named Andrei Sakharov Museum and Community Centre. 1975 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Andrei Sakharov was a famous Soviet physicist, academy fellow, and human rights advocate. The Sakharov Centre was the idea of Sakharov's widow Yelena Bonner. The exhibits at the Sakharov Centre are, for the most part, pieces of historical evidence rather than artworks. The museum exhibits the works of artists who fell victim to Stalinist persecution, as well as artefacts crafted by GULAG prisoners. One permanent section of the Sakharov Centre is dedicated to the documentary evidence of political repression in the Soviet Union between the years 1918 and 1956. Sakharov's personal archive is also stored here, in itself representing a whole stratum of Soviet history.

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The founders of Triumph Gallery, Emelian Zakharov and Dmitry Khankin, were determined to shock and surprise from day one of their project. In 2007, a year after the gallery opened, the partners brought in the controversial British artists, the brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman. Triumph is the outlet for notorious creative alliances such as AES+F, media icons such as TV hostess and fashion designer Alexandra Vertinskaya, the granddaughter of famous singer/songwriter Alexander Vertinsky, and the lesser known – or, perhaps, completely unknown – artists. Triumph is the place to check out the works of Thanatos Banionis, the pseudonym of a group of artists who hide their names and, adding mystery to the enigma, also their faces. All their works are children of a collective brain, indeed. Yelena Tratlina, a debutante on Moscow's art scene, exhibits her works in the gold leaf stamping technique, which she mastered in Italy, at Triumph.

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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.

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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: in France, Austria, Finland and elsewhere. The museum adds new exhibits all the time, including video installations and other high-tech displays, drawing huge crowds of visitors. MAMM also does mobile exhibitions.


Vera Mukhina crafted her 24-metre (79-foot) Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa (Worker and Kolkhoz Woman) sculpture group for the Soviet pavilion at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. The monumental sculpture group was returned to Moscow after the fair, and placed outside the northern gate of the VDNKh, the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy. The sculpture group was back in the art spotlight in 1998, when a group of Moscow artists and architects dressed the worker and kolkhoz woman statues in real overalls and dress of the colours of Russia's national flag. The new pedestal of the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman, opened in 2010, houses a museum dedicated to the history of the sculpture group, which is often used as an emblem of Moscow. The museum frequently hosts exhibitions of Russian avant-garde art.

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Walking past the Manege, continue down Mokhovaya Ulitsa (Mokhovaya Street) towards the Bolshoi Theatre until you reach Georgievsky Pereulok (Georgievsky Lane), where you will find a legendary central Moscow landmark: the city's very first electric power plant, designed by architect Vladimir Sher, a cousin of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and built in 1888. The building currently houses the New Manege Exhibition Hall, a venue for all kinds of events and exhibitions, from folk arts and crafts shows to master classes.

Frolov Gallery

Frolov Gallery is a reincarnation of pARTner Gallery, which had existed until 2006, created by gallerist Vladimir Frolov in partnership with his colleague Andrey Rudakov. Later on, Frolov gave his own name to another gallery he opened at WINZAVOD Centre for Contemporary Art. Frolov Gallery exhibits the works of contemporary artists: Bogdan Mamonov, Rauf Mamedov, Claudia Rogge, and Valery Katsuba, to name a few. 

Stella Kesayeva, the wife of Russian entrepreneur Igor Kesayev and founder of the modern art support foundation named after herself, co-organized the exhibition of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at the Hermitage, and curated the Russian pavilion at the Venetian Biennale three times, in 2011, 2013 and 2015. The mission of the Stella Art Foundation is to collect art for the future modern art museum, which Kesayeva intends to open some time in the next ten years. In the meantime, a part of the collection is on display at the Stella Art Foundation showroom.

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The 1964 building at Ulitsa Krymsky Val (Krymsky Val Street), which is the Central House of Artist, hosted French art and fashion shows in the early 1980s, including fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. The art of Salvador Dali went on display at the Central House of Artist at around the same time, which was a powerful gust of the "wind of change" for Muscovites. The Central House of Artist is a creative space that welcomes exhibits, concerts, drama performances and other highlights. The Moscow International Open Book Festival was held here in 2006. It is currently the main venue of the New Culture Fest, uniting the artists, architects, designers, musicians and film makers who use new technology in their art. The Central House of Artist hosts temporary shows in addition to its permanent exhibits, some of which are dedicated to Soviet-era art.

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If there is one thing Garage owner Darya Zhukova's story teaches us, it is that it takes big business to promote modern art to the masses. Sofia Trotsenko, the wife of Russian billionaire Roman Trotsenko, found the compound of the former winery – WINZAVOD – at Syromyatniki, and turned it into a contemporary art centre of the same name. WINZAVOD is now the home of about a dozen art galleries, as well as the studio of Aidan Salahova, a name respected by international art dealers. Apart from countless art shows and festivals, WINZAVOD offers master classes for beginner-level artists.

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The Gary Tatintsian Gallery is one of those places where art can be enjoyed in solitude. Except for the Museum Night, the gallery is never crowded. Gary Tatintsian, who had emigrated from the Soviet Union to Germany with his parents, opened his gallery in Berlin in 1989, exhibiting the works of Soviet alternative artists Ilya Kabakov and Vladimir Nemukhin. He also opened a gallery in New York City later. In his Moscow gallery, Gary Tatintsian has carefully preserved the same chamber feel that characterizes similar spaces in Manhattan or in the little side streets off Oxford Street in London. This small art space magnetizes modern artists known only to the few real connoisseurs.

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One of the founders of Proun Gallery at WINZAVOD Centre for Contemporary Art, Marina Loshak, is now director of the National Pushkin Art Museum. Loshak is a well known curator of Russian avant-garde art shows, and Proun was and is to this day specialized accordingly, exhibiting the likes of Kazimir Malevich, his pupil Konstantin Rozhdestvensky, David Yakerson, and others. Proun has hosted an exhibition of late 19th-early 20th century Georgian primitivist Niko Pirosmani. With rare exceptions, the gallery remains true to Russian avant-garde art.

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The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, popularly known as the "Lumiere Museum," opened in 2010 inside the former Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) candy factory, now Moscow's trendy art district. The centre frequently holds exhibitions of Soviet photo art, featuring photos of old Moscow. But most of the visitors are young people, who know a different Moscow, the city of high-rises, sprawling construction sites, and the gigantic Peter the Great monument at the spit of the Moskva River, right next to this museum.
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If you are on Mokhovaya Ulitsa (Mokhovaya Street), a very central street right next to the Kremlin, you cannot miss the Manege, an 1817 empire style building erected to the order of Emperor Alexander I. The building houses the Manege Central Exhibition Hall, which is part of a museum and expo complex of the same name, also incorporating the New Manege Moscow State Exhibition Hall and the Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa Museum and Exhibition Centre. The Central Manege hosts Russian and international modern art shows, including the Moscow Modern Art Biennale.

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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.