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Museums in Kiev > Kiev Museum of Russian Art

Capri View by Ayvazovsky, 1845

Portrait of N.G.Repnin-Volkonsky by Borovikovsky

Three princess of the Underworld by Vasnetsov

Address: 9, Tereschenkovskaya Street, Kiev
Tel:
+38 (044) 234-62-18.
Opening hours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
Opening hours on Tuesday and Friday: 11:00 - 18:00
Closed: on Monday and Thursday 

In Kiev Museum of Russian Art there is the largest collection of Russian paintings, drawings and sculptures in Ukraine. The museum collection is based on the private collections of Kiev patrons of arts. The members of Tereshchenko family (they were well known Ukrainian sugar kings) were the most known patrons of arts in Kiev. Many paintings by P. Fedotov, I. Shishkin, I. Kramskoy, N. Yaroshenko, I. Repin, V. Vasnetsov, V. Polenov, M. Vrubel, V. Vereshchagin were donated to the museum by Tereschenko family. Later some paintings by A. Arkhipov, A. Rylov, N. Roerich, K. Somov and R. Falk were donated too.

In 1930s -1940s some paintings by D. Levitsky, V. Borovikovsky, A. Savrasov, N. Ge, S. Gerasimov, M. Saryan, V. Serov, Z. Serebryakova were added to the museum collection.

Recently the interest to painting of the Soviet period has been revived. In Kiev Museum of Russian Art.There are paintings by B. Johansson, S. Gerasimov, A. Deineka, A. Plastov, N. Romadin as well as by painters of 1960s -1980s showing new artistic trends in the art of the former Soviet Union.

In the courtyard of the museum you can see the monument to Alexander II - the only survived monument to the Russian emperor in the post-Soviet area.


Director of the museum Yuriy Vakulenko

Director of Kiev Museum of Russian Art
Yuriy VAKULENKO

“OUR MUSEUM IS EVEN INHABITED BY GHOSTS”

Perhaps, it is hard to find a more Russian Museum in the capital of Ukraine. Two museums – the Museum of Russian Art and the Museum of Oriental and Western Art are situated on the small calm Tereschenko street (named after the famous Kiev sugar manufacture and Maecenas), adjoining the picturesque University park with the monument to Taras Shevchenko, located in it. No offence meant to western and oriental art, but still the Museum of Russian art is more popular among residents and guests of Kiev. Perhaps it is closer to us. The museum is fairly considered the third one in importance of its collection after Tretyakovskaya Gallery, the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg and stores over 13 thousand works. Tourists often cross half the world to see its exhibits. Besides, according to confession of its director Yuriy Vakulenko, who has been heading the museum since 2005, he has never seen a cozier and, directly speaking, homelike museum anywhere in Europe.

— Yuriy Evgenyevich, as far as I know at due time you graduated from an Azerbaijanian art school and Kiev State Art Institute, worked in the Kiev Pechersk reserve, headed the Center of Restoration and Expertise. How did you happen to head such a museum, well-known far outside Ukraine?

— Yes, I must tell you that it is a very responsible mission to become the director of such a museum on one hand, but on the other – it is considered great happiness among art historians and artists. The thing is the Museum is not just a collection of paintings, but verified by time, absolutely exact structure of the energetic complex, which consists of these paintings. The uniqueness of our museum is also in the fact that it is not a specially built gallery, but a real house, where at due time – before the October Revolution – cultural life was in full swing.

So imagine that energetics, put into the building by people, still remains alive. The building stores its collection. I guess you will be very surprised to hear that employees of our guard service, who are on duty at nights, tell that they can often hear creak of the parquet, as if someone was walking about the halls. It is scary, but interesting. It is significant that the building was occupied by different organizations after the war, but paintings were never replaced from the gallery. Despite the fact that its former owners were very rich people, they led very humble life. Public was allowed to come and see pictures twice a week and there was a special staircase from the yard for this purpose. So, Tereschenko`s collection was already public at that time. We have not just a museum, but a house museum due to the fact that he lived with his family here. It gives the feeling of home comfort. Our building, like any old house, is even inhabited by ghosts.

The building of the museum

Generally, I have a belief that if the museum doesn`t like somebody, it will reject him or her. Only people, who are not to Tereschenko house`s liking cannot get on here. On the other hand, an employee, who gets emotionally involved with the museum, stops growing old and doesn`t get sick often. Our workers are almost never on sick leaves. And all this is thanks to the energetics that this small kingdom preserves. There are plenty of wonderful museums, but in ours thanks to the preserved interior one gets the impression of staying in a warm house. I adore welcoming guests, because it gives another opportunity to plunge into the energetics of our museum. I also like to repeat the phrase, once said by General Director of Dresden Art Gallery during his visit to Kiev “I haven`t seen a cozier museum in Europe”.

— Yes, it is really cozy in here. It is hard to imagine what ideal conditions and efforts storage of old and especially ancient pictures demands. Pictures probably should be placed in vacuum to remain intact, shouldn`t they?

— You may not believe it, but in fact… ideal storage conditions are ruinous for works of art. Since molecules of substances, connected with each other like human muscles must relax and strain to stay in tonus. If now we place any painting in vacuum for storage and after some time replace it to ordinary conditions, it will crumble to dust like articles from closed tombs. Our house-museum preserves pictures with its energy. 

In one of the halls

When I occupied the Director position, I was amazed by stable condition of the funds of the Russian Museum. Of course, there are works demanding restoration, but there are not any under the thread of destruction! We are not just a museum with its values, but an old “house with ghosts”, with its own energetics, ventilation slits in the walls. In a way, the house lives its own life. Imagine that for our employees work is not a place where they serve eight hours a day, but a dwelling place, where they live and want to live. For example, I sit at the table of Tereschenko himself. After reconstruction we plan to create a memorial cabinet, where this rarity table will occupy its honorable place.

— Please tell more about the exposition. What does it attract guests with?

— In degree of importance the collection of our museum has always been considered the third after Tretyakovskaya Gallery and Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. We have over 13 thousand exhibits. About 900 most significant works of Kiev collection are represented in the exposition. As collectors Tereschenko were rivals to Tretyakov. After reconstruction we will try to increase the collection up to three thousand exhibits. Naturally, the collection is heterogeneous and it`s clear that out of 13 thousand exhibits not all are masterpieces and cannot stay in the permanent exposition. For example, there are works of big size, which cannot be exhibited physically.

There is definitely a lot of work material for scientific research. The collection keeps being replenished despite the crisis. Each year the funds increase by 5-10 exhibits due to gifts. Here is my approach: the museum is not a storehouse of paintings, but a collection of muses. Do you know what the most important thing in the museum is? The fact that people go by a huge energetic source – the fountain, which they can approach and get enormous supply of energy. We often hold concerts, exhibitions of modern art, neoclassics. Moreover, we permanently have overexposures of pictures.

In the museum exposition: paintings by Shishkin

— Your museum is called the Museum of Russian Art. But a lot of works, not connected with Russian art, are represented here. What is the explanation for that?

— It is true, our museum preserves the memory of Slavic nation. Interethnic division is nominal here. It is art. Today we work at returning of works that used to be in our collection before, but turned out to be outside the museum for different reasons. We possess the unique collection of painting of the Soviet period: Azerbaijanian, Baltic, Tajik, Kazakh painters…

This art cannot be set aside. The thing is a museum is a conservative organization and it is meant to preserve all cultural heritage. Every picture is reflection of its time. People should not be deprived of their right for memory because of change of formations. A museum is the keeper of eternity. Only time is true expert. Russian artists permanently went abroad. We consider them Russian or Ukrainian artists. But indeed they all have an analogue somewhere. Art is reflection of esthetics of certain time. We are proud of the fact that it is ours, national. But in fact, it is not. Art is cosmopolitan and it can`t belong to one nation. Even the name of our Kiev Museum of Russian Art is a brand. Actually, we store Slavic art. How can we divide Ukrainian, Russian, Byelorussian artists, Hungarians and Poles? Undoubtedly, there are certain national peculiarities, but nothing more than that.

 
In the museum exposition: paintings by Semiradskiy and Repin

— Many masters, whose works are represented in your museum, can be called both Russian and Ukrainian artists. Is it so?

— Of course, since many of them were born or lived in Ukraine. They expressed their vision of Ukrainian land and Ukrainians. There are white huts, fields of rye, the broad Dnieper River roars and groans there. It should be noted that they reflected reality of that time. Let`s take Makovskiy, for example, depicting a drunk man by the door of a tavern and his wife, shielding his way with words: ”Won`t let you in”. Ukrainian wedding and rosy girls with garlands on their heads are nearby. One can see Repin with barge haulers and a hut showing up white there. In other words, as soon as Russian painters paid attention to Ukraine, their gloomy mood disappeared. They had a rest for their soul there.

— Do descendants of Tereschenko visit their former house?

— Representatives of the family often come to show their grandchildren the house and the collection. We welcome them warmly, drink tea in a familiar way, exchange gifts, tell them how the museum lives. We do not have any disagreements with them.

In the museum exposition: paintings by Aivazovsky

— Yuriy Evgenyevich, I can`t help asking you how the museum survives in current circumstances, how it is financed.

— This subject is very topical for us, like for many other establishments of culture. Plan of funds` replenishment was affirmed at Soviet time. Means was allocated for this purpose. Now procurement has not been financed at all for many years. Our funds are replenished with about 5-10 works a year due to artists, who grant their works to the museum. But not each work is accepted. For this purpose there is a special commission that estimates quality of a work. I am convinced that a museum mustn`t earn money. This is normal all-European and worldwide position. We are not owners of these rarities, we preserve national heritage. It would be ridiculous if the museum had to earn money for that. Naturally, the state maintains us and quite normally, in fact. Though, of course, there is not much we can afford. Undoubtedly, the museum can make money. There are enough museum technologies: realization of souvenir production, conduction of different events, etc. They bring certain income, which enables us to buy lighting equipment; we also carry out publishing activity, which is profitable too. 

— Do you have plans to expand expositional area?

— Indeed, the museum is under reconstruction now. Specialists have started project works. We have planned construction of premises for funds (we have over 3 thousand square meters of our own land). All the services will be removed from the main building and only the exposition will be left there. All technical services will be placed underground. Construction of a new building is planned according to the project. Funds, a restoration center, an exhibition hall, a little restaurant for visitors will be located there. A nymphaeum, where our sculpture will be placed, will connect the two halls. After construction works we will start restoration of the main building. But our museum will never stop working as an exhibition hall.

Media Center of “Prime Excursion Bureau”

May 2010



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