Museum of the Russian Icon
Bldg. 1, 3 Goncharnaya Street
+7 (495) 221-52-83
Opening hours: Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun 11am-7pm
How to reach the object: M: Taganskaya
The Museum of Russian icon was founded by the businessman and benefactor Mikhail Abramov in 2006. Initially, the Museum was located in one of the halls of the “Vereiskaya Plaza” business center. The Museum received wide-spread acclaim in academic and public circles due to its prominent role in a series of unique art projects, such as the exhibitions The Returned Heritage (The State Tretyakov Gallery, 2008), and The Masterpieces of Russian icon painting of the 14th-16thcenturies from Private collections (The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, 2009) – notable events in the cultural life of modern Russia.
The new Museum complex in the Taganka district was opened to the public in January 2011. Two 19th-early 20th century town-houses in the Goncharnaya street were reconstructed and equipped for the housing and exhibition of the Museum’s collection. The gathering of the collection, its restoration, academic study and attribution are based on the principles and standards of state art museums. Some halls of the Museum contain interactive exhibitions, such as the reconstructed Icon painter’s workshop (with a real iconographer working at the Museum); a genuine Old Believer’s chapel, with a fully reconstructed interior (made in accordance with the traditions of the Priestless strain of the Old Believer movement); a reconstruction of an Orthodox Christian altar, with an authentic Greek iconostasis, dating back to the end of the 17th century (a monument unique among Russian collections). Up to this day, the Museum of Russian icon is the largest and most significant private collection of Eastern Christian art, containing almost 4,500 museum pieces. The collection includes samples of Late Roman art; Early Christian and Byzantine antiquities of the 6th-14thcenturies, many of which do not have analogues and equivalents even among the collections of large-scale state museums; monuments of Greek iconography; a full-scale museum of Ethiopian Christian art, with over 2,400 museum-pieces.
The cornerstone of the Museum is the collection of Russian iconography, which includes almost 1,000 icons. The exposition is based on chronological principles, which allows the visitor to examine the basic tendencies and styles of diverse iconographic centers, as they developed during the course of several centuries – from the birth of the national iconographic style in the 14th century up to the time of the re-discovery of ancient iconographic traditions in the early 20th century. A special feature of the collection is a wide range of unique monuments of Old Russian art of the 14th-16thcenturies, Pskov icons of the 16th century and icons of the 17th century, painted by iconographers of Moscow, the Volga Region, and masters of Moscow’s Armoury school, including Simon Ushakov. The Museum also includes one of the best collections of Early modern and Late modern period iconography. On exhibition one may see the stylistic diversity of 18th century icons, as well as the art of the renowned iconographic centers of the 19th-early 20th centuries, icons painted (and often – signed and dated) by the leading masters of Moscow, Palekh, Mstyora, Yaroslavl, and the Old Believer schools of Vyg, Nevyansk, Romanov-Borisoglebsk.
A truly unique part of the Museum is the collection of the Christian art of Ethiopia, one of the first Christian states in history. This is by far the largest collection of Ethiopian art in Russia, containing over 2,400 museum pieces. Due to the size and significance of this collection, it basically forms a stand-alone, full-scale museum. It includes a wide range of crosses of all possible shapes, sizes and types: from small silver or brass baptismal and pectoral crosses to grand processional ones, used during the solemn church services. The predominance of the crosses in the Museum’s Ethiopian hall (the exhibition numbers over 1,700) is no mere chance; this Christian symbol always held a special, revered place in Ethiopian culture. The Museum’s Ethiopian collection also includes numerous pieces of artwork – icons, diptychs and triptychs, religious and secular paintings, a series of manuscript books and scrolls illustrated with various miniatures. There are also different pieces of ethnographic, folk crafts – pottery, wickerwork, woodcarving, painting on skins, popular prints and folk art. The collection also includes silver filigree pendants of various shapes and sizes, rare in their beauty and quality, made in the royal workshop of the renowned Emperor Menelik II.