The so-called New Tretyakov, the Krymsky Val branch of Moscow’s premier art museum, is a treat in itself for the Cold War enthusiast. Housing the gallery’s collection of 20th century art, it contains many iconic Russian paintings and sculptures, from revolutionary abstraction to Socialist Realism.
But for something altogether more quirky, visitors should venture outside. The fact you are there invited to connect to the ‘Muzeon-Stalin’ WiFi network is preparation for what’s to come.
The Muzeon Arts Park that surrounds the museum, also known as Fallen Monument Park, is largely a graveyard for obsolete Soviet sculpture. The park was established in 1992, soon after the dissolution of the USSR, and much like Memento Park in Budapest it became a home for toppled statuary which, quite frankly, no one knew quite what to do with. In the garden Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev rub shoulders with triumphant workers and peasants and victims of the Gulag.
The over 700 artworks have since been officially recognised as ‘objects of cultural heritage’ and despite the subject matter have proved a popular draw for tourists and Muscovites alike. Nowadays the park boasts a craft market and food stalls, and on special days there are treasure hunts for children and even a Christmas fair.
Combine your visit with a trip to VDNKh (the All-Russian Exhibition Centre), a Stalinist recreation park in north Moscow, for a curious but fascinating insight into life in the USSR.
Top – Vandalised statue of Joseph Stalin in front of memorial to the victims of the Gulag, Muzeon Arts Park. Courtesy Garrett Ziegler on Flickr; Bottom – Julia Tatiana Bailey photo opp next to Soviet-era monument, Muzeon Arts Park. Author’s photo.