Director of Pushkin wants to work with London’s V&A and help Moscow’s homeless design museum

The Pushkin design satellite will have both historic and contemporary design galleries



The energetic director of the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Marina Loshak, is planning to create a design museum. Pushkin Design will consist of historic and contemporary design galleries and an exhibition space. “Our dream is to create a new building from scratch, away from the Pushkin, perhaps in another part of Moscow,” she tells The Art Newspaper. “In the 20th and especially the 21st century, design has become a part of contemporary art.” She confirms that she has been discussing the project with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London.

The project is still at an early stage. Loshak is in talks with the government and a number of professionals. Western sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the falling rouble and a drop in the price of oil have left the country teetering on the edge of recession, so Loshak says that the funds for the centre will have to be raised from the private sector, including trustees, sponsors and Friends of the museum.

Museum quarter

The curator took over the reins of the Pushkin Museum after its long-term director, Irina Antonova, resigned at the age of 91 in 2013. Loshak is now leading a $670,000 restoration and expansion of the institution into a museum quarter. Norman Foster was commissioned to head the project but he pulled out in 2013 because his plans, which required the loss of historic buildings, attracted criticism from local preservationists. Last year, the Russian architect Yuri Grigoryan and his firm Meganom were selected to lead the expansion. Pushkin Design is part of the plans for the quarter. “[Design] deserves a separate museum and exhibition space outside the Pushkin Museum Quarter. This space will be dedicated to art and design, allow for complex and beautiful projects and should stimulate the urban development of the surrounding area,” she says.

Works for the new museum will in part come from the Pushkin’s collections, including posters and sketches by Russian avant-garde artists such as Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova “who were associated with the first movements in the field of design”, Loshak says.

The plans for Pushkin Design come at an opportune moment following the Moscow Design Museum’s eviction from the Manege Central Exhibition Hall last year, where Loshak was director until her appointment to the Pushkin. The Moscow Design Museum was established only in 2012, and is, so far, the country’s only design museum. When Loshak left for the Pushkin, the Moscow Design Museum was asked to leave as well. Now, the museum’s director, Alexandra Sankova, and her core team of curators are working from a temporary office and have an “overflowing” storage facility. The museum has around 5,000 objects and a large collection of documents. “We have always helped the Moscow Design Museum,” Loshak says. “Of course, we would like to continue our co-operation.”

V&A comes to Moscow

The V&A has already made its presence felt in Moscow. Its exhibitions have included “Two Centuries of British Fashion” (2010) and “The Golden Age of the English Court” (2012) both at the Moscow Kremlin Museums, as well as “Decode: Digital Design Sensations”, at Dasha Zhukova’s Garage Centre for Contemporary Art in 2011. More recently, it loaned a number of works to the Pushkin Museum for “Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley: a Russian Perspective”, which was organised by the Moscow Museum of Design and closed in November, as well as for “Julia Margaret Cameron” at the Multimedia Art Museum (until 1 February).

Regarding the plans for Pushkin Design, a spokeswoman for the London institution said it is “aware” of the project but has not received an “official approach”.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Pushkin plans design satellite'