In the 1990s, the museum's founder, the photographer and designer Rustem Valiakhmetov, was an active collector of the relics of the Soviet era. Visiting him on one occasion, the musician Andrei Makarevich remarked that “This isn't just a studio, this is a real museum!”, and gave him his jeans. This article of clothing was of special significance in the late-Soviet era – the owner of a pair of jeans, a garment that was in extreme deficit at the time, immediately garnered the respect of “non-formal” youngsters, and a musician appearing in jeans was essentially issuing a challenge to the established cultural hierarchy. Following the “jeans” contribution to the future exhibition, other Russian stars, from Garik Sukachev to Sergei Shnurov, followed suit. As a result, in the winter of 2011, an exhibition titled “Jeans as a Cult” was held at the Museum of Visual Arts. In August of 2011, the museum opened in a building built in the mid-19th century, in a former communal apartment that was once home to 20 people.
The exhibition features all manner of artifacts from the Soviet epoch: homemade guitars, posters, books, newspapers, school paraphernalia, clothing, toys, badges and household implements. This is a huge antiques store in which parents can recall their childhood and youth, and talk about the past with their own children. The collection is regularly being added to, not least because a series of rock stars have been invited to the museum and they always contribute items of real worth. Concerts are sometimes staged on the first floor.