The State Museum of the Fine arts of the Republic of Tatarstan is one of the centres of cultural life in Kazan. It has become a venue for a wide range of diverse projects. thanks to the hard work of the museum staff .
The history of the State Museum of Fine Art can be traced back to the fine art collection of the National Museum opened in 1895.
The museum was founded on collections by Andrei Likhachev, an archaeologist and local historian, Olga Alexandrovna-Gains, a philanthropist, and Alexander Mantel, an artist. Their donations enriched the museum’s collection with canvasses by Vasily Tropinin, Ivan Aivazovsky, Vasiliy Perov and Ivan Shishkin, Konstantin Makovsky, Ivan Shishkin, Ilya Repin and Boris Kustodiev.
In 1958, as a result of the rapid growth of the museum’s art collection, the National Museum’s art gallery (at that time known as the State Museum of the Tatar SSR) was transformed into a museum of fine arts. It moved into its present building in 1967.
Before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the building was the residence of Alexander Sandetsky, the commander-in-chief of the Kazan military district. The architect of the mansion house is unknown. In 1924, the building housed a tuberculosis dispensary. During refurbishment work to accommodate the museum, the builders removed all the internal mouldings and plaster for safety reasons and renovated the interior.
The sensitive desire of the museum staff to create something new is expressed through the curators’ aim to achieve an impressive collection of painting, graphics and sculptures by artists from the Republic.
At the present time the State Museum of Fine Art of Tatarstan (GMII) has more than 25,000 exhibits. The museum holds the most exhibitions in the city. 120 exhibitions were held in one record year approximately. .
In 2005, the Museum acquired an annex in the three-storey building of the former Junkers College in the Kazan Kremlin – the Hazine National Art Gallery. The new annex houses works by Nikolai Feshin, the impressionist, Baki Urmanche, the first professional Tatar artist and many others. The exhibition hall of ancient Russian art in the bell tower of the Church of the Epiphany is also an annex of the Museum. Last year the Diocese of Kazan and the Museum agreed to the joint use of this architectural monument: it is now used for church services and secular concerts.
When you enter the museum from the garden and go up the staircase, you will find yourself in the Resource Centre opened in 2011. It provides studios for children and offers lessons and master classes. The building opposite which houses the Gallery of Modern Art holds concerts and tea ceremonies.
The team of the Museum of Fine Arts definitely possess the instinct for popular events and they are open to all kinds of initiatives. One of the most successful of these is the open-air summer festival of improvised music “Jazz in the Sandetsky Mansion”, which was held for the first time in 2007. Every Thursday from July to August, performances are held here – from mainstream music to the avant garde. On these days the museum is open until 21:00, and visitors to the concerts can also enjoy the collection of Russian and Western European art.