The State Tretyakov Gallery (Russian:
Государственная Третьяковская Галерея, Gosudarstvennaya Tretyâkovskaya
Galereya; abbreviated ГТГ, GTG) is an art gallery in Moscow, Russia, the
foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world.
The gallery's history starts in 1856 when the Moscow merchant Pavel Mikhailovich
Tretyakov acquired works by Russian artists of his day with the aim of creating a
collection, which might later grow into a museum of national art. In 1892,
Tretyakov presented his already famous collection of approximately 2,000 works
(1,362 paintings, 526 drawings, and 9 sculptures) to the Russian nation.
The façade of the gallery building was designed by the painter Viktor Vasnetsov
in a peculiar Russian fairy-tale style. It was built in 1902–04 to the south from
the Moscow Kremlin. During the 20th century, the gallery expanded to several
neighboring buildings, including the 17th-century church of St. Nicholas in
The collection contains more than 130,000 exhibits, ranging from Theotokos of
Vladimir and Andrei Rublev's Trinity to the monumental Composition VII by Wassily
Kandinsky and the Black Square by Kazimir Malevich.
In 1977 the Gallery kept a significant part of the George Costakis
In May 2012, the Tretyakov Art Gallery played host to the prestigious FIDE World
Chess Championship between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand as the organizers
felt the event would promote both chess and art at the same time.
Pavel Tretyakov started collecting art in the middle of 1850. The founding year
of the Tretyakov Gallery is considered to be 1856, when Pavel Tretyakov purchased
two paintings of Russian artists: "Temptation” by N.G. Schilder and "Skirmish with
Finnish Smugglers” by V.G. Kudyakov, although earlier in 1854-1855, he bought 11
graphic sheets and 9 pictures of old Dutch masters. In 1867 the "Moscow City
Gallery of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov" was opened. The Gallery’s collection
consisted of 1,276 paintings, 471 sculptures and 10 drawings of Russian artists, as
well as 84 paintings by foreign masters.
In August 1892 Pavel presented his art Gallery to the city of Moscow as a gift.
In the Gallery’s collection at this time, there were 1,287 paintings and 518
graphic works of the Russian school, 75 paintings and 8 drawings of European
schools, 15 sculptures and a collection of icons. The official opening of the
museum called the "Moscow City Gallery of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov." Took place
on August 15, 1893.
The Gallery was located in a mansion that the Tretykov family purchased in 1851.
As the Tretyakov collection of art grew, the residential part of the mansion filled
with art and it became necessary to make additions to the mansion in order to store
and display the works of art. The additions to the mansion were made in 1873, 1882,
1885, 1892 and finally in 1902-1904, when there was the famous facade, designed in
1900-1903 by architect V. Bashkirov from the drawings of the artist Viktor
Vasnetsov. Construction of the famous façade was managed by the architect A.M.
In early 1913, the Moscow City Duma elected Igor Grabar as a trustee of the
On June 3, 1918, The Tretyakov Gallery was declared owned by Russian Federated
Soviet Republic and was named the State Tretyakov Gallery. Igor Grabar was again
appointed director of the museum. With Grabar’s active participation in the same
year, the State Museum Fund was created, which up until 1927 remained one of the
most important sources of replenishment of the Gallery's collection.
In 1926 architect and academician A.V. Shchusev became the director of the
Gallery. In the following year the Gallery acquired the neighboring house on Maly
Tolmachevsky Lane (the house was the former home of the merchant Sokolikov). After
restructuring in 1928, it housed the Gallery administration, academic departments,
library, manuscripts department, and the funds and graphics staffs. Later, in
1985-1994, an administrative building was built from the design of architect A.L.
Bernstein with 2 floors and height equal to that of the exposition halls.
In 1928 serious renovations were made to the Gallery to provide heating and
ventilation. In 1929 electricity was installed.
In 1929 the church St. Nicholas in Tolmachi was closed, and in 1932 the building
was given to the Gallery and became a storage facility for paintings and
sculptures. Later, the church was connected to the exposition halls and a top floor
was built which was specially designed for exhibiting a painting by A.A. Ivanov
"The Appearance of Christ to the People" (1837-1857). A transition space was built
between rooms located on either side of the main staircase. This ensured the
continuity of the view of exposure. The Gallery began to develop a new concept of
In 1936, a new two floor building was constructed which is located on the north
side of the main building – it is known as the "Schusevsky” building. These halls
were first used for exhibitions, and since 1940 have been included in the main
route of exposure.
From the first days of the Great War, the Gallery personnel began dismantling
the exhibition - as well as those of other museums in Moscow, in preparation for
evacuating during time of war. Paintings were rolled on wooden shafts, covered with
tissue paper, placed in boxes, and sheathed with waterproof material. In the middle
of the summer of 1941 the train of 17 wagons traveled from Moscow and brought the
collection to Novosibirsk. The Gallery was not reopened in Moscow until May 17,
1945 upon the conclusion of the Great War.
In 1956, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery, the
Alexander Ivanov Hall was completed.
From 1980-1992, the director of the Tretyakov Gallery was Y.K. Korolev. Because
of the increased number of visitors, Korolev was actively engaged in expanding the
area of exposition. In 1983, construction work began to expand the Gallery. In 1985
the Depository - a repository of works of art and restoration workshops – was
commissioned. In 1986 renovations began on the main building of the Tretyakov
Gallery. The architects I.M. Vinogradsky, G.V. Astafev, B.A. Klimov and others were
retained to perform this project. In 1989, on the south side of the main building,
a new building was designed and constructed to house a conference hall, a computer
and information center, children's studio and exhibition halls. The building was
named the "Corps of Engineers", because it housed engineering systems and
From 1986 to 1995, the Tretyakov Gallery in Lavrushinsky Lane was closed to
visitors to accommodate a major renovation project to the building. At the time,
the only museum in the exhibition area of this decade was the building on the
Crimean Val, 10, which in 1985 was merged with the Tretyakov Gallery.
Gallery of modern art
In 1985, the Tretyakov Gallery was administratively merged with a gallery of
contemporary art, housed in a large modern building along the Garden Ring,
immediately south of the Crimean Bridge. The grounds of this branch of the museum
contain a collection of Socialist Realism sculpture, including such highlights as
Yevgeny Vuchetich's iconic statue of "Iron Felix" (which was removed from Lubyanka
Square in 1991), the "Swords Into Plowshares" sculpture representing a nude worker
forging a plough out of a sword, and the "Young Russia" monument. Nearby is Zurab
Tsereteli's 86-metre-tall statue of Peter the Great, one of the tallest outdoor
statues in the world.
Near the Gallery of modern art there is a sculpture garden called "the graveyard
of fallen monuments" that displays statues of former Soviet Union that were
There are certain plans to demolish the gallery constructed in the late Soviet
modernism style, though the public opinion is strongly against them.