OFFICIALLY APPROVED ART

On receiving your first stack of Belarusian money from a currency exchange office, take a look at the colorful images on the banknotes. They will tell you that culture stands high in Belarus: National Opera and Ballet Theatre is featured on a 100-ruble banknote; the Trade Unions’ Palace of Culture greets you from a 500-ruble bill, while Belarusian National Arts Museum - the center of Belarus’ cultural heritage - proudly presents itself on a 1000-ruble banknote. Let's begin our Minsk gallery tour with the latter.

Belarusian National Arts Museum

Belarusian National Arts Museum
Photo wikimapia.org When you look at the strict and magnificent building of Belarusian National Arts Museum - located just off the city's main artery, Niezaliežnasci Avenue, the first thing that comes up on your mind is: Stalin's era. Indeed, the museum’s current headquarters dates back to 1957 (4 years after Stalin’s death) when the collection was finally accommodated after years of changing premises and homes.   The National Arts Museum is a popular art destination for Minskers and tourists. Like many museums in the world, every mid-May it joins the Long Night of Museums. That’s when all museums and galleries, both private and state-run, open up their doors, offering diverse programs with musical, drama and even circus performances. However, be prepared to spend quite a long time in queues, which are business as usual for infamously patient Belarusians.   The building of the Museum was designed by a young architect Mikhail Baklanov as an example of Stalinist Empire style. It features a massive façade with columns enriched with sculptural reliefs and the allegories of “Painting” (by Pyotr Belousov) and “Sculpture” (by Sergey Adashkevich). The pediment is crowned with the sculpture “Glory” by Andrey Bembel.    BOOKMARK The strict façade hides the colonnade of the front lobby covered with carpets and even stricter-looking attendants who have hardly changed their looks since the Museum first opened its doors…   Unlike many European museums that employ young or middle-aged people with creative and positive attitude as gallery attendants http://gala.onthemount.net/?p=71#more-71, Belarusian National Arts Museum entrusts its collections mostly to the older generation of attendants. Watching them can sometimes bring you as much pleasure as exploring the galleries themselves. Deadly serious but oddly beautiful ladies of the Arts Museum will most probably reprehend you for your looks, for talking too loudly or for getting dangerously close to artifacts. Don't take their criticism too personally; treat it rather as an ultimate expression of professional enthusiasm. Smile to them and impress them with your newly acquired Russian or Belarusian skills. You have already learned how to say dziakuj, haven't you? END OF BOOKMARK Photo panoramio.com
Показать больше Показать на карте
  • Address: 20 Lienina St. (Metro station Kastryčnickaja/Kupalaŭskaja)
  • Opening hours: Wed-Mon: 1100-1900, Wed-Mon: 1100-1830 (ticket office)
  • Contact data: +375 17 327-71-63, +375 17 328-68-44
  • Website: Belarusian National Arts Museum

Zair Azgur Memorial Museum and Workshop

Zair Azgur Memorial Museum and Workshop
Here's yet another "classical" museum with plenty of Soviet artifacts. One of Belarus’ most famous sculptors, Zair Azgur authored many sculptures in Minsk, including Lenin's monument and statues of poet Jakub Kolas and his literary heroes. Housed inside the sculptor's former workshop, the museum allows you to feel as a Lilliput in the country of Soviet-made Gullivers. If you are lucky, you can also get some alternative culture experience. The museum’s management is open to creative ideas and cultural initiatives that are allowed to organize events here. Just imagine: a hall with giant sculptures along the walls turns into a stage for Belarus poetry evenings, indie music concerts and art performances. www.ctv.by
Показать больше Показать на карте
  • Address: 8 Azgura St., Getting there: bus 57, trams 1, 4, 7 (Gorky Park stop)
  • Opening hours: Tue-Sat: 11:00-18:00, Tue-Sat: 11:00-17:00 (ticket office)
  • Contact data: +375 17 380 06 32
  • Website: Zair Azgur Memorial Museum and Workshop

Art Gallery MASTACTVA

Art Gallery MASTACTVA
"Birch Forest"/"Biarozavy Haj" (1986) by Alla Zamay is a painting from the collections of the Union of Belarusian Painters that costs 8.4 million Belarusian rubles.   MASTACTVA art gallery is located in the city center, not far from the Central Post Office. Despite the gallery's loud claims about employing "a revolutionary approach to art marketing and trade," it is actually just a tiny shop with dully selling products. The bottom-line is: the culture of collecting arts is yet to emerge in Belarus. With virtually no art industry in place, paintings are usually bought as a farewell gift for a retiring colleague or a birthday anniversary present for a boss. In both cases, a nice Belarusian landscape is an ideal match, preferably in a massive frame, just like as the ones in the National Arts Museum. Forward-thinking artists jokingly nicknamed the old-fashioned traditional Belarusian art as "12 cubic meters of birch trees".   Handmade souvenirs and exclusive decorations can also be found in the gallery. Don't rush to buy them, if you're traveling on a budget. You will find plenty of cheaper souvenirs of a similar quality in the state shopping centers such as GUM and TSUM. At hand-made arts markets, you can get in direct contact with crafters who usually sell their artworks directly. This way, you can kill the middleman and get souvenirs cheaper. Many crafters are young, open-minded and English-speaking. Photo bel-art.by  
Показать больше Показать на карте
  • Address: 12 Niezaliežnasci Ave (between Metro stations Kastryčnickaja and Plošča Lienina, 10-minute walk)
  • Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 10:00-20:00, Sat-Sun: 10:00-19:00
  • Contact data: +375 (17) 327 83 63, 327 31 15
  • Website: Art Gallery MASTACTVA