2 THE STATE MUSEUM OF ORIENTAL ART
The Russian Federation straddles Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and the Arctic, and Russians see themselves as having a unique identity that encompasses both Asian and European traditions. It is thus no real surprise that Moscow’s State Museum of Oriental Art is among the world’s largest dedicated to the preservation and study of Asian art. This museum lies in a centrally located historical building, which was formerly the home of the noble Lunin family and built in the early 19th century by the famous Italian architect Domenico Gilardi (1785-1845). The State Oriental Museum showcases permanent expositions of art from China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Buryatia, Mongolia, India, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Afghanistan, and Iran on three floors. The collections are compact but comprehensive, ranging from archaeological remains to cloisonné objects and samurai swords. Among the museum’s highlights are undoubtedly its immense archaeological collection of ancient Persian art and the art of Russia’s indigenous peoples living in the Arctic. A splendid treasury exhibition showcases objects from the ancient Caucasus as well. For those more interested in modern art, The State Museum of Oriental Art has an outstanding collection of modern art by the Russian archaeologist and artist Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), most of which is accessible to museum visitors.
Left, top: The Kazakhstan pavilion and inset, Armenia Right: Interior of the State Museum of Oriental Art Overleaf: Illuminated decorations on Nikolskaya Street, a pedestrian and shopping street, which connects Red Square and Lubyanka Square All images © James Blake Wiener unless otherwise stated