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Intriguing Exhibits at the State Museum of Oriental Arts

Situated in the center of Moscow, Russia’s bustling capital city, the State Museum of Oriental Arts is a tourist attraction that is well worth visiting. The building itself is a superb architectural example of early Russian classicism, dating back to 1821. Housed in this stately, pale yellow building is an impressive collection of Oriental art.

The building was designed by celebrated Italian architect D. Zhilyardi, and built as a private home for the Lunin family. The mansion was expropriated by the state after the 1917 Russian Revolution and in 1918 the State Museum of Oriental Arts was established. The initial collection of Oriental arts, which consisted of items that had been expropriated from the private collections of Russian collectors and scientists such as Kastalsky, Mosolov, Ostroukhov, Faberge, Brokar, Shchukin and Mosolov, has been added to on a continuous basis over the years.

Visitors to the State Museum of Oriental Arts can expect to see an extensive collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures, as well as decorative and applied art. There are outstanding examples of Persian carpets, Indian jewelry, Iranian ceramics, Buddhist sculptures and Japanese prints, as well as wood and bone carvings, and antique weaponry. Included in the collection are a number of artifacts that were found during scientific expeditions to Middle Asia, North Caucasus, Chukot Peninsula, Siberia and other distant regions of Russia. The comprehensive collection of the art of Caucasus and Asia covers the period from the first century through to the early 20th century.

The State Museum of Oriental Arts has a number of permanent exhibitions, such as The Art of Japan, The Art of Korea, The Art of China and The Art of South-East Asia, which incorporates Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. The most popular displays in the museum focus on the art of Caucasus, Transcaucasia, Kazakhstan and Middle Asia, which includes Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

A section of the museum is dedicated to the life and the works of renowned Russian philosopher, poet and artist Nikolai Roerich (1874-1947) as well as his son, Sviatoslav. Their works reflect the religious and cultural traditions of ancient Russia, as well as the influences of the many countries they explored. The last decade of Nikolei Roerich’s life was spent in a remote village in the Indian Himalayas, and many of the beautiful, vibrant landscapes on display at the museum are from that period of his life.

In addition to the permanent displays, the State Museum of Oriental Arts regularly hosts interesting temporary themed exhibitions. The museum building is also used as a center for ongoing archaeological and anthropological research. If you are traveling through the fascinating country of Russia, be sure to include a visit to Moscow’s State Museum of Oriental Arts – you will be glad you did.


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