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We can all picture the historic buildings, charming canals and bridges of St Petersburg but did you know the UNESCO World Heritage city is one of the best places in Europe to ogle art too? There’s been an explosion of art in St Petersburg in recent years and the city is making its mark as a cultural centre. In 2010, Russia’s second-largest city opened two new art spaces, Novy Muzei (New Museum) and Erarta Museum and its contemporary art scene is now thriving. This handy guide will help you make the most of your time and direct you to the best art hubs in the city.
To reach the museum, hop on the metro to Vasileostrovskaya station. Address: 2 Line 29 Vasilyevsky Island, St. Petersburg 199106, Russia.
The Erarta Museum is the largest private museum of contemporary art in Russia. It’s a spectacular building – one half houses the gallery where you can browse works of art and buy any pieces that catch your eye. The other half is a museum, which traces the history of Russian art over the last 60 years. The curators work hard to find and showcase the most exciting contemporary artists on the scene, with a total collection of around 2300 works. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore here. You can pick up an audio guide or join a tour if you want to get a deeper understanding of the exhibit.
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm every day, except Tuesdays.
Novy Muzei showcases some of Russia’s best avant-garde artists from the 1950s to the present day. It became the first private gallery to open in the city, so importantly, the first to openly celebrate C20th century artistic talents, previously forbidden during Soviet rule. Yet despite the harsh restrictions on creativity, it was a prolific time in Russia. Post-Stalin, a new group of artists began to experiment. The collection includes work by artists who, although known on the world stage, were represented in St Petersburg for the first time here. Many of the works were considered provocative by the communist regime, including non-conformist paintings by L.Kropivnizky and V. Nemukhin. Museum owner, Aslan Chekhoyev, quietly built up his collection over several years before opening Novy Muzei, in 2010, and helping put contemporary Russian artists on the map.
Address: Novy Muzei 29, 6th Liniya of Vasilyevsky Island
Directions: The museum is opposite the entrance to Vasileostrovskaya metro station.
Opening hours: Tue – Sun, 12 – 7pm.
You can walk to the main Hermitage Museum complex from Admiralteyskaya metro station. Address: Main Museum complex (Winter palace) 2, Dvortsovaya Ploshchad (Dvortsovaya Square), 190000, St Petersburg.
STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM
If you want to delve into the classic art world then you won’t be short of options in this city. As one of the oldest and largest museums in the world, the State Hermitage Museum was founded in 1768 by Catherine the Great. Displaying over 3 million works of art, key archaeological finds and national treasures, the six buildings of the state Hermitage will astound and inspire you.
Wander the grand halls of the State Hermitage, including the Winter Palace (a former residence of the Russian emperors), the Hermitage Theatre and the Auxiliary House, all in the centre of the city. Head out to Vasilevsky Island to explore the grand interior of Menshikov Palace. Founded in 1710, it’s one of the oldest surviving buildings in St Petersburg and holds treasures from Prince Alexander Menshikov.
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 10.30am – 6pm (except Wed. 10.30am – 9pm). Closed on Mondays
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