Museums Russian Federation

Launch (museum) satellites, says Putin

In an off-the-cuff remark to the country's culture minister, Russian president calls for regional centres to show national collections

Putin puts his culture minister on the spot

Russia’s major museums must open provincial satellites, President Vladimir Putin has told the country’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky. Putin’s off-the-cuff comment was made in late September, when Medinsky showed him plans for a major expansion of Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery, which is opposite the Kremlin.

“We must organise branches of such museums in regional centres of the Russian Federation, so works of art don’t lie around in storage or in basements,” Putin said, according to a transcript posted on the Kremlin’s website.

Medinsky seemed to be taken aback by Putin’s suggestion, although the president’s meetings with officials are believed to be highly scripted. The minister warned that museum directors do not like to part with their collections. Putin replied that it was not a matter of handing over collections, but of showing them. Medinsky then said that the culture ministry was addressing the issue with its restructuring of Rosizo, the ministry’s official organisation in charge of organising touring exhibitions.

Putin and Medinsky praised the State Hermitage Museum for its broad regional reach. A branch is due to open in Vladivostok by 2016, and the regional government has allocated more than Rb17.7m ($558,000) for preliminary reconstruction work on a historic mansion to house the satellite. Another branch, the Hermitage-Siberia, is due to open in Omsk in three years.

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