Anna Trapkova: the main part of the building of Pushkinsky Museum will be underground

13 December 2016

Deputy Director of museum Anna Trapkova told us, how it is planned in Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts to embody the dream of museum founder Ivan Tsvetaev about creation of “Museum Quarter”.

— When your visitors are going to see the first signs of future Museum Quarter?

— The first new building will be opened not earlier than in 2019. But we hope, that changes will already be seen by the end of the next year along with reconstruction of Volkhonka under the design of bureau “Meganom”, which is performed as a part of Moscow government-supported programme “My street”. The pedestrian space will be expanded, Volkhonka will get trees, and the street will look more like a boulevard. To make a quarter consisting of buildings of different styles and eras visually unified and to create for visitors a sense of single space, some unifying elements of design and navigation are needed. When entering Museum quarter space, we want a visitor to feel that he is in the space of the museum. During the warm seasons we are planning to be active in using territory for museum-related events: lectures, concerts, film screening, and workshops. Art-objects will also be placed there. There are hardly any such sites in Moscow for permanent public art exposition.

Public environment of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Quarter Architectural Bureau Meganom, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— In such case, how possible is that Pushkin Museum will have graffiti? Not on the walls, but, maybe as it was with our pavilion in Venice when for Irina Nakhova’s project the walls were sewed up with plywood and repainted.

— This is a great idea for our construction site! We have already one building folded with plywood. The problem is that the bulk of the buildings under reconstruction are situated deep in the quarter, so such interventions won’t be visible for visitors. So, now we’re using numerous hoardings to tell about museum, its future, current exhibits.

— Would existing fences hinder perception of the quarter as an integrated space and will they be preserved?

— There are lots of historical fences on the territory and we are preserving them as much as possible. Bureau Meganom, which is designing the territory of the Museum Quarter, is facing a complicated task — to find a balance between necessity to preserve every historical stone and to create passable space within museum quarter. In particular, the project provides for restoration outlines of old-time street, which was set parallel to Volkhonka, it starts at Kolymazhnyi drive between Private Collections and House of Graphics.

Preservation of historical environment became one of the key issues of the new architectural urban concept, which let “Meganom” and Yuri Grigoryan win this competition in June 2014. That’s why we are trying our best to follow this priority. I’d like to notice, that Grigoryan has designed a new building, engaged in designing single ground and underground space and also supervises all projects which are performed by various architects. On the basis of the museum scientific-advisory council on cultural heritage was created. It consists of best Moscow restorers who get approval for the projects and supervise course of works on the territory of the quarter. And, for instance, when designing depositary and restoration exhibition centre — the only new building in the Museum Quarter — we’ve decided not to demolish old buildings, which lie on the territory of future construction site but have no conservation status, and we preserve them entirely, making them a part of this compound.

Façade of Depositary and Restoration Exhibition centre © Architectural Bureau Meganom, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— Could you tell about this building, what is going to be there?

— It is the main building on the territory of the quarter. It will house our entire collection, restoration workshops, and new exhibition halls. Area of depositary and restoration exhibition centre is 20, 500 square metres. Construction from scratch in the very centre of Moscow imposes serious restrictions as for building height, for this reason the bulk of the building will be underground. Two blocks, exhibition and engineering, connected by underground walkway, with museum storage, including open storage, which allows our visitors to have a broader perspective of our funds and inner life of the museum.

The Museum of Fine Arts was designed as an educational museum of casts, so storage in historical building was not provided. At the same time, during its more than a hundred years history museum collection has significantly increased and at the moment it numbers seven hundred thousand objects of storage. In essence, the whole project of Museum Quarter is related to the need to show our collection to visitors and provide conditions for its preservation.

Open storage of Depository and Restoration Exhibition centre © Architectural Bureau “Meganom”, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— On which objects construction works have already started?

— Now construction works are carried out on four objects. From the middle of 2015 mansion of Vyazemskikh-Dolgorukovykh has been reconstructed, in 2019 the Old Masters Gallery to be opened here. Reconstruction of Stulovy brothers’ tenement house started in the summer 2015, and it is planned to be opened in 2019 as a Text House. Now we’re working under interior of this house in cooperation with Russian-Dutch bureau SVESMI. This September we held a ceremony of the beginning of construction of Depository and Restoration Exhibition centre under project by Yuri Grigoryan and Bureau “Project Meganom”. Putting object into commission is scheduled to 2020. Meanwhile, infrastructure for Museum quarter has also been under construction, major works are planned to be completed by next autumn.

A month ago General Board of State Expert Review approved project of reconstruction of Golitsyny mansion into a Art Gallery of the European and American Countries of the XIX-XX centuries, designed by architects Yuri Avvakumov and Georgiy Solopov in cooperation with Central scientific restoration design workshops. Construction works are going to start there in the middle of 2017 and to be completed in 2021.

When the Old Masters Gallery, Text House and Depository and Restoration Exhibition centre are opened, the Main Museum Building will be closed for reconstruction works. But it won’t happen earlier then in 2020-2021.

Lobby of Depository and Restoration Exhibition centre © Architectural Bureau “Meganom”, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— Have you discovered anything interesting when these buildings were examined?

— Yes, we have. When designing project of restoration of Vyazemskikh-Dolgorukovykh Mansion, investigators knew that bulk of the building consisted of XVII cent. chambers, but this fact wasn’t confirmed. In the course of works a lot of findings were made: vaulted ceilings on the first floor, numerous fragments of interiors and even facades. Now we’re preparing for another estimation by General Board of State Expert Review to approve project changes related to these findings.

— Could visitors see them after completion of reconstruction?

— First floor interiors with vaulted ceilings and brick walls will point to the XVII century. And it was decided to preserve façade overlooking Bolshoy Znamenskiy Lane to show all 300 hundred years long history of the building. It has to be said that in the next months, before it is scaffolded, there could still be seen traces of architraves, cornices, and semi-columns from the side of the lane.

Open Storage of Depository and Restoration Exhibition centre © Architectural Bureau “Meganom”, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— How are you going to show the gem of your collection — impressionists and postimpressionists, how will this building look?

— It will move to the main house of Golitsyny Mansion. This is symbolic as exactly in this mansion in 1865 knyaz Sergey Golitsyn-junior opened first public museum in Moscow. After revolution two more storeys were built up to this building and in such look it became a cultural site in 1960s. Institute of Philosophy of RAS located here until later, a year and a half ago it moved to the new mansion on Goncharnaya Street.

The project by architects Yuri Avvakumov and Georgiy Solopov suggests careful preservation and restoration of mansion façade on the level of first and second floors along with reconstruction of fronton and balustrade. Transparent screen is mounted to differentiate between more recent additional storeys and historical building. First and second floors interiors are being restored. Dismantling of bearing partitions on the third and fourth floors allows to create there spacious exhibition halls. Natural daylight on the upper floors is provided by transparent roofing. All in all, exhibition halls will occupy 3,000 sq.m., allowing visitors to pay attention to every masterpiece. We expect that first several years we will show collection to its fullest extent, which will be followed by rotation, objects will be taken to other exhibits as it is the most demanded part of the collection.

Information centre incorporating building of gas station of 1920s Architectural Bureau “Meganom”, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— What else except of permanent display will be allocated in the buildings of the Museum Quarter?

— They will hold areas for temporary exhibitions, which are the most attractive for visitors, lecture halls, and educational areas, and also comfortable services — cafes, recreational areas, shops. All these are things without which it is impossible to imagine a modern museum. This set of functions will be represented in every building of the Museum Quarte, yet, they will be distinct in their content. And Golitsyny mansion is going to host a restaurant with a picturesque view over the Kremlin, the Cathedral of the Christ the Savior, and Moscow-river. Every yard in the Museum Quarter has its own character and a particular programme will be designed for it. And in winter an underground space will turn into a spacious courtyard.

Basement floor lobby of Depository and Restoration Exhibition centre © Architectural Bureau “Meganom”, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— What it will be filled with?

— Under the main building a large hypostyle hall to be located, lightened with daylight through inner yards of the museum. The main building has always been and remains the main spotlight on Volkhonka, that’s why it should have large space to host all visitors and for this reason the main buildings of the Museum Quarter should be interconnected at this site. There will be created a multifunctional lecture hall for three hundred fifty people, which was needed for the museum for a long time. And we are also planning to create in this public space with free entrance blocks of open storage which could help visitors to navigate underground. It’s important to go beyond boundaries of exhibition halls and to create for visitors a feeling of presence in the museum environment.

Underground space of Main building of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts © Architectural Bureau “Meganom”, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

— Do you mean that thematically they will correlate to the exhibits located in the buildings above?

— Yes, exactly. Open storage — is a subject for a separate discussion. Now top world museums think over idea how to make such a closed museum function as storage more open for visitors. It’s highly important as we’re building a depository in the centre of the city and have no right to hide it from visitors. This is a challenging experience for a traditional museum, but it seems to me that we shouldn’t be afraid of openness.

— It was announced that about 22 billion roubles were allocated for Museum Quarter creation. Whether this amount has been adjusted and are you planning to engage some private investors into realization of this project?

— The project of development of the museum complex is fully financed by the state. During these years the amount has been adjusted but without any significant changes. Yet, it seems to me important to remember that Museum of Fine Arts had almost entirely been created through private donations. Yuri Stepanovich Nechaev-Maltsov alone, according to data from department of manuscripts, contributed 1 million 800 thousand roubles when construction cost and purchase of collection constituted over 3 million roubles. Patrons donated money, obtaining a right to give names to the museum halls. For me creation of Pushkin museum is a story about influence and capacities of pre-revolutionary Moscow patronship. This is a very important argument in favor of private sponsors, especially that state funds are not enough for creation of museum of the world’s level. It is good that such sponsors already exist and support us.


Images: Meganom


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