By Hannah Chapman
Hannah Chapman is majoring in Russian Studies, International Business, and Political Science at Stetson University. She spent spring semester, 2009 studying abroad with The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) in Moscow on the Translate Abroad Program.
Across the street from Gorky Park, on the territory of the New Tretyakov Gallery and the Central House of Artists lies Sculpture Park, which is known as “Muzeon” to locals. It is most famous as a graveyard of Soviet era statues, but also contains much modern art and several themed, sculpted landscapes all in an outdoor setting.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, several statues were damaged in the ensuing chaos. For example, the giant statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the controversial former head of the Soviet secret police, was famously toppled from its place outside the KGB headquarters. The Russian government decided to relocate Mr. Dzerzhinsky, many of the statues devoted to Stalin, and several other similarly controversial artworks to a small park behind the Central House of Artists. These sculptures, many created by world famous artists, laid in disrepair until it was later made into a park. Since that time, the Muzeon’s collection has grown to include 600 statues of varying themes and styles.
Keep an eye out, for example, for the collection of caged statue heads that are meant to represent victims of Soviet oppression and the Oriental corner complete with a dragon and pond. Some statues have descriptions, though none are in English.
The park is a great place to spend a sunny day. It can be enjoyable as well in winter, though the cold and the fact that some statues are covered to prevent further cracking can diminish the experience.
Near Sculpture Park is one of Moscow’s most expansive art markets. Part is in a greenhouse-looking structure situated at end of the park, furthest from the river. Still more can be found in the area between the park and the river, where people sell paintings from the backs of their cars and from make-shift kiosks. Cross to Gorky Park via the pedestrian underpass, and you’ll find it’s full of painting and sculpture for sale as well. A visitor can find paintings of the most famous sights in Moscow as well as landscapes, portraits and even cartoon characters. Many artists will do paintings on order such as portraits from pictures.
Details: As of May, 2008, students (show your ID) can get into the sculpture park for ten rubles (about thirty cents). Other foreigners can get in for 100 rubles. The museum is open every day from 9am-9pm and photography is permitted. See their website for more information. You can generally take pictures in the market as well, but always ask if photographing individual paintings. Check out their website.
Directions: Click here for a Google Map. Exit metro Парк Культуры (Park Kulturi) and cross the river towards Gorky Park. Take the underpass at Gorky Park to the Central House of Artists. Along the river, heading towards the gigantic monument to Peter the Great, is the main part the art market. On the right side of the Central House of Artists (large white building) is the entrance to the Muzeon. The Muzeon can also be entered at the end of the art market, between the gates to the right. OR Exit metro Октябрьская (Okyaberskaya) and head west down Крымский вал (Krymskiy Val.) The Central House of Artists is on the right directly before the river.
View Moscow Guide from The School of Russian and Asian Studies in a larger map