This excellent museum in one of Minsk's iconic buildings (built in 1939) includes definitive works by Soviet social realists and Russian masters, including Valentin Volkov's social realist Minsk on July 3, 1944 (1944–5), depicting the Red Army's arrival in the ruined city. Several works by Yudel Pen, Chagall's teacher, are here, including his 1914 portrait of Chagall, and Chagall exhibitions often rotate through here.
There's also an impressive collection of icons, some great realist depictions of late 19th-century life in the Russian Empire and several works by Nikolai Ge, Ilya Repin, Isaak Levitan, Isaak Brodsky, Ivan Aivazovsky, Mikhail Nesterov and Konstantin Makovsky. Out back a light-bathed extension features local art from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Order excursions in English in advance.