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Culture news, 23.03.2004 11:02

Russian Museum goes out of town

Ilya Repin's As part of its nine-year plan to take treasures of Russian art to towns and cities across the country, the State Russian Museum this week opened an exhibition in the town of Saratov in theVolga River region of central Russia with 100 masterpieces from its extensive collection.

The star of the show in the Radishchev Arts Museum in Saratov is Ilya Repin's "Burlaki Na Volge" (Barge Haulers on the Volga), one of the symbols of the museum's collection.

The Russian Museum has developed a special program to visit 30 provincial towns across the country between 2003 and 2012. The project, featuring cities such as Samara, Nizhny Novgorod and Saratov, was officially launched in April 2003 in Moscow, with an extensive display at the Pushkin Arts Museum there.

The exhibition in Saratov is drawn from the museum collection, famous for works by 18th and 19th century masters like Vasily Tropinin, Karl Bryullov, Vladimir Borovikovsky, Dmitry Levitsky and Orest Kiprensky. Displayed in Saratov under the title "Three Centuries of Russian Art" are artworks from the 18th to the early 20th century by Repin, Borovikovsky, Levitsky, Kazimir Malevich, Pavel Filonov and Serebryakova.

"The exhibition was designed to travel around but naturally we adapt it to the local artistic context, history and preferences," said Yevgenia Petrova, a deputy director of the Russian Museum. "It is not that we have mounted one thing and just carry it around."

Although targeting Russian audiences, the project "Three Centuries of Russian Art" is sponsored by a western company, British American Tobacco Russia. The State Russian Museum's marketing strategy is naturally different from that of St. Petersburg's other great museum, the State Hermitage, which receives most of its budget from foreign sponsors.

"Like Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery, we cannot rely on money from abroad," said the director of the Russian museum. "I don't say this out of envy; it's just a fact of life. The Dutch, for instance, are rightfully proud of Rembrandt, so they contribute to the Hermitage. The French adore the Impressionists, so their money goes to the Hermitage as well. It's all quite logical." But more and more western companies operating in Russia are becoming interested in the activities of the State Russian Museum. BAT Russia has been a keen sponsor exhibits for the past three years.

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