Lonely Planet Writer

Russian Impressionism museum opens in former Moscow chocolate factory

Moscow’s already impressive museum and gallery scene has a brand-new attraction – the Russian Impressionism Museum which opened on 28 May on Leningradskiy prospect, in a converted building of the former Bolshevik chocolate factory.

Museum of Russian Impressionism, Moscow.
Museum of Russian Impressionism, Moscow. Image by Kseniia Ilinykh, Museum of Russian Impressionism

This is the first privately owned museum in the Russian capital. Its founder is Russian businessman and art collector Boris Mints, whose own collection of Russian artworks is in the museum’s permanent exhibition. The building itself is a striking round pavilion that’s part of a wider business and entertainment centre. This modern conversion of the historic factory was designed by London-based architects John McAslan + Partners, reportedly a US$20-million-dollar investment.

Inside Moscow's newest museum.
Inside Moscow’s newest museum. Image by Kseniia Ilinykh, Museum of Russian Impressionism

The new museum has more than 1000 sq metres of exhibition space spread over four floors. The permanent exhibition includes more than 70 artworks by top Russian painters such as Konstantin Korovin, Igor Grabar, Konstantin Yuon, Pyotr Konchalovskiy and Yuri Pimenov. Unlike the more famous French impressionism, the same artistic movement from the late 19th and early 20th century in Russia is not well known worldwide, and for some art historians even the term is a little controversial. While many Russian artists painted using impressionist techniques, not many are generally considered true representatives of the style.  Furthermore, Russian visual art is best known abroad for icon painting and socialist realism. The new museum’s aim is to popularise Russian impressionism among both Russian and foreign art lovers and, in addition to hosting exhibitions, its focus will be on research, publishing and educational activities.

‘Skating rink Dynamo’ (1948) by Pyotr Konchalovsky
‘Skating rink Dynamo’ (1948) by Pyotr Konchalovsky

Moscow’s other major art venues include the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and its branch, the Gallery of European & American Art of the 19th & 20th Centuries (both focusing on foreign arts), the State Tretyakov Gallery and the New Tretyakov Gallery (showcasing pre-­revolutionary and 20th-century Russian art respectively), and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, which moved into impressive new premises in Gorky Park in 2015.