The Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) is the first state museum in Russia to focus on Russian art of the 20th and 21st centuries, while also introducing viewers to the international art of this period.
Supported by the Moscow Government, the museum welcomed its first visitors on December 15, 1999. Zurab Konstantinovich Tsereteli, President of the Russian Academy of Arts, was the founder and director of the museum. By donating artworks he accumulated over the years, Tsereteli laid the foundation for the museum’s collection, which has expanded considerably since then. Today, the MMOMA holds over 10,000 works featuring artists of various, sometimes opposing trends — avant-garde movements, social realism, non-conformism, academism, naive art, contemporary practices, etc.
MMOMA has seven venues, six of them in Moscow’s historic center. These stunning exhibition spaces include the main museum building on Petrovka and two buildings on Gogolevsky Boulevard, the MMOMA Educational Center on Ermolaevsky Lane, the museum studios of Zurab Tsereteli, Dmitri Nalbandian and Pyotr Konchalovsky, and the Vadim Sidur Museum in Novogireyevo.
Inspired by his 1960s visits to Paris with its freshly opened Centre Pampidou, Zurab Tsereteli came up with an idea of opening a contemporary art museum in Moscow. Launched at the turn of the century, MMOMA drew on the history of the Moscow Museum of Pictorial Culture (1919-1929) with its focus on theory and research.
Until the mid-2000s, MMOMA sought to build a coherent image of the 20th century 'mirrored in the collection' (as Valery Turchin put it). Besides its overview exhibition of the major artistic milestones of the past century, the museum displays various shows aimed at introducing new Russian and international artists to the public.
The Museum continues to house the Free Workshops School of Contemporary Art, founded in 1992, and to publish the Dialogue of Arts journal, a successor of the famous Soviet Decorative Art magazine.
Since the late 2000s, MMOMA has increasingly focused on collecting, studying and popularising Russian art of the second half of the XX century and today. In 2009, the museum was among the first in Russia to launch a series of large-scale temporary thematic shows that showcased different contexts and vectors of its collection. These exhibitions are still held once a year at the Petrovka venue, the former mansion of the merchant Gubin, built at the end of the XVIII century and designed by Matvey Kazakov.
The concept of the museum as a multidisciplinary research complex naturally led to founding the MMOMA Educational Centre in the former Moscow Architectural Society building in Ermolaevsky Lane. The renovated space hosts a focused laboratory programme titled Collection.Viewpoint, which researches new approaches to displaying the museum collection. The Educational Centre also houses a public Books and Media Library, as well as a public lecture hall.
Since its foundation, MMOMA has expanded the scope of its activities manifold, which has affected the museum infrastructure: new sites, initiatives and programmes appeared. The museum invests into academic research, creative education, inclusive projects, its own publishing programme, it supports young artists and provides technical expertise of artworks.
In 2008, MMOMA, together with the National Centre for Contemporary Art (NCCA), founded the Moscow International Biennale of Young Art. A prominent and looked-for event, the Biennale has generated a stimulating environment for creative initiatives and art in Moscow for over a decade.
MMOMA hosts exhibitions at all its venues, each with its own focus, and annually launches a variety of projects, different in their genre and scale: from shows of emerging authors to retrospectives of major Russian and foreign artists, from conceptual exhibitions of the collection to international festivals. The Museum doesn't have a permanent exhibition, featuring instead thematic exhibitions and retrospectives of important Russian artists, which stimulates research and acquisition.
Through collaboration with other cultural institutions, the Museum also hosts exhibitions at partner venues in Moscow and all around Russia. MMOMA contributes to the Russian art scene by placing a special emphasis on the regional programme and exhibiting its collection in different cities.
Over the years of fruitful work, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art has taken a prominent place on the Moscow cultural map. Today MMOMA is one of the most established and visited city museums. With its comprehensive collection, solid research, and exhibition experience, MMOMA is always open to experiments and continues to evolve.