The Best Museum You’ve Never Heard Of

When I lived in Minneapolis, I had easy access to several great museums. I lived within walking distance of both the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (which is free!). One of my favorite things to do in the snowy season was trek over to one of these museums, which would transport me from my cares and from the dreariness of March. I loved these museums and I still miss them.

The Museum of Russian Art, 2014 (photo credit Collin Knopp-Schwyn via Wikipedia)
The Museum of Russian Art, 2014 (photo credit Collin Knopp-Schwyn via Wikipedia)

Another favorite museum, though I couldn’t just casually walk over to it, was The Museum of Russian Art. Housed in an old Spanish Colonial Revival church, the museum is intimate and beautiful, with a rotating collection of spectacular works of Russian art, from antiquity through the modern day. The museum’s exhibitions are unlike anything you’re likely to see at any other museum in the United States. Since their focus is entirely on Russian art, they don’t seem to feel the need to define Russian culture in the hackneyed ways of so many other institutions. They avoid the “Old Mother Russia” and “Communist Russia” pigeonholes, instead giving us fresh perspectives on Russian art, with exhibitions such as “Antiquities from Ukraine: Golden Treasures and Lost Civilizations,” “The Enchanted Art: A Legacy in Russian Lacquer,” “Photographer to the Tsar: Revealing the Silk Road,” “Russian Impressionism: On the Edge of Soviet Art,” and “Faces of War: Russia in World War I (1914–1918).”

Can’t travel to Minneapolis? They have a section on their website devoted to online exhibitions. Though not the same as an in-person visit, the online exhibitions do a nice job of providing the same introductory information, and they guide you through the material in the exhibitions. This is a really great resource and I hope more people will become aware of it!

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