Libmonster ID: UK-1371

Keywords: State Museum of Oriental Art (GMV), A.V. Sedov, museum collection, scientific and publishing activities

If you walk along Nikitsky Boulevard in Moscow, then, having come up with this building, it is difficult not to linger on it. Guidebooks say that the house was built shortly after the Moscow fire of 1812, designed by the famous architect D. I. Gilardi (reliable documents confirming this, however, have not been preserved). For some time, the uncle of the Decembrist M. P. Lunin, General M. S. Lunin, lived in it. Then for a long time, until 1917, the Moscow branch of the Russian State Bank settled in it. Now in the house on Nikitsky Boulevard, 12 -the State Museum of Oriental Art (GMV).

The front door opens and closes almost continuously - there are quite a lot of visitors. But not everyone knows that the Museum has two "faces".

One is the actual museum, educational: presentation and replenishment of its collection, reception of visitors, the number of which has exceeded 100 thousand per year.

And the second is the face of a large and reputable scientific institution, essentially a research institute. With more than fifty scientists, including five doctors and about three dozen candidates of science. With extensive publishing activities, including the annual publication of at least several monographs, plus guides to the museum and sections of its expositions, on the exhibitions held here and" on the road " annually. With annual archaeological expeditions to different parts of the country and abroad. With regular participation of the museum's scientists in representative Oriental scientific conferences and symposiums in Russia and in many countries of the world.

Alexander Vsevolodovich Sedov, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the magazine's correspondents about this aspect of the GMV's research activity.

A well-known scientist, a prominent expert on the Middle East, the author of several monographs and more than one and a half hundred articles, A. V. Sedov has been heading the museum for the last eight years.

Which of the two" faces " of the museum - educational or scientific - do you consider the most important, Alexander Vsevolodovich?

"Both are important. For many reasons, including the rapidly growing role of the Eastern countries, primarily China, India, Korea, Iran, and Turkey in world politics and economy; we, in Russia, are showing increasing interest in them. Thousands of our fellow citizens annually go on vacation to the countries of the East. Naturally, many people have a desire to get a closer look at the history and culture of these states. And we, the museum staff, strive to satisfy this interest as fully as possible.

On the other hand, the newly opened borders allow scientists of Russian Oriental research institutions - and we consider ourselves one of them - to significantly expand the scope of research, exchange materials, and implement joint scientific projects. We strive to make better use of these new opportunities. In particular, to organize joint archaeological expeditions and conduct excavations together.

We, journalists, have traveled a lot in our country and abroad.

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And nowhere have we heard anything about any other Museum of the East, except in Moscow. Maybe you "didn't notice" or missed something?.. Or is your museum unique?

- Perhaps it is true - there are few such museums in the world, such as those where cultural and artistic objects from more than 100 countries and peoples of Asia and Africa are stored and displayed to visitors. And in terms of the number of exhibits - over 140 thousand - we also probably have no equal (however, due to limited space, only a small part of them is displayed, and many, unfortunately, are stored in storerooms). Comparable to our collections in importance are the excellent and very rich oriental collections of the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum, the Kunstkamera, the Russian Ethnographic Museum, as well as the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and, to some extent, the State Historical Museum (GIM).


- It is all the more interesting to find out how the GMV collection was collected and formed. Probably, it will be interesting for foreign readers of the magazine "Asia and Africa Today" - they account for about half of our circulation.

- In 2018, our museum will be 100 years old - the decision to create it was made on October 30, 1918. Thus, it is one of the oldest museums in Moscow and perhaps the first to appear in the country after 1917. The current appearance of the museum was acquired much later - in the 1970s, when it was granted a special building on Suvorovsky, now Nikitsky, Boulevard, known as"Lunin's House".

We moved into this building only in the early 1980s, after the completion of its reconstruction and renovation. Unfortunately, it does not fully meet the specific museum requirements: it has many stairwells, and some rooms - former offices of bank employees - are too small. But we somehow adapted and managed to show all the most interesting things.

Before that, the museum changed several addresses - mostly they were separate halls in other museums - Historical, Museum of Folk Studies, which provided us with a place to display a small part of our collections. And they were originally rich.

In the late XIX-early XX centuries. There were several well-known collectors of art objects in Russia, including those from Eastern countries: N. S. Mosolov, P. I. Kharitonenko, A. M. Pozdneev, A. A. Brokar, etc. Their collections, partly nationalized by the new government, partly bought, were handed over to us, as well as quite a lot of rarities from oriental goods stores. In addition, our funds were then and later replenished by private donors. I would like to mention in particular the excellent collection of Iranian curiosities collected by a Russian diplomat who worked in Iran for many years - the Soviet government bought it from the owner specifically for our museum.

You can write fascinating stories about some of our exhibits. So, we have one of the two elements of a Chinese Ming Dynasty vase. Relatively recently, it turned out that the second part of this vase is on display in the London museum. The idea came up to assemble the whole vase and show it at a special exhibition in Stockholm. Unfortunately, the plan was not implemented due to the lack of a law on state guarantees for moving museum valuables from country to country in Sweden.

The history of the purchase of unique ancient Persian miniatures by the Russian collector A. V. Morozov at the Nizhny Novgorod Fair is extremely interesting (later they were transferred to another famous Russian collector - P. M. Shchukin, and then to our museum). Such miniatures can now be seen only in four museums in the world-ours, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the National Museum in Delhi.

And recently, we purchased samples of 16th-century Japanese tableware recovered by divers from a ship that sank off the coast of Cambodia 400 years ago.

How many rooms are there in the Museum of Oriental Art?

- The number of halls is a very superficial characteristic of the museum. I'd rather name the number of sections of our exhibition. There are 14 of them: Chinese Art, Japanese Art, Korean Art and Culture, and Southeast Asian Art

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etc. In addition, there are two special halls dedicated to the works of N. K. and S. N. Roerich (our collection of their paintings is one of the largest in Russia) and our archaeological finds. The exhibition also includes works by contemporary artists from Eastern countries and Russian artists who are somehow connected with the East. There is a relatively small one - about 400 sq. m. m - a complex of halls for temporary exhibitions.


- You mentioned the special section on archaeological collections. Who collected such collections, and how did they get into the museum?

- Archaeological materials are a significant part of museum objects, they are found in many sections of the permanent exhibition. Almost all of these finds were discovered by our employees during expeditions organized by the museum.

The first such expeditions - to the south of Uzbekistan, to Old Termez - were organized in 1926-1928 by the then director of the museum, Boris Petrovich Dennike. They have added to our collections a lot of materials from the excavations of the palace of the Termez rulers of the XII century, later structures, as well as other monuments. Expeditions were carried out later, and archaeologists from among the museum's full-time employees often went to the excavations two or three times a year. So, in the 1980s, museum expeditions conducted field research in the North Caucasus, Central Asia, and Chukotka, where the ancient settlement of Ekwen and the Ekwen burial ground became the subject of research by our archaeologists. Scientists of the museum received there a unique material describing the art and culture of the Far North at the beginning of the first millennium AD. These materials have been repeatedly shown at exhibitions in Germany, France, Switzerland, Denmark, and the United States.

For more than three decades, the Central Asian Archaeological exposition of our museum has been excavating ancient monuments of Uzbekistan - the Buddhist cave monastery of Kara-Tepe near Termez, the ancient settlements of Paikend and Varkhasha in the Bukhara oasis, etc. Our archaeologists took part in the work of the French archaeological expedition to the Afrasiab settlement in Samarkand, in the Tokharistan expedition of the Institute of Art Studies of Uzbekistan, which conducted excavations at the Kamyr-Tepe and Dabil-Kurgan settlements.

For ten years, the museum's archaeologists were part of the Soviet-Mongolian Historical and Cultural expedition. I am the head of the Russian Integrated Expedition of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the Republic of Yemen, where scientists from the two countries - archaeologists and historians-have been working hand in hand for several years. The creation of this expedition in 1982-1983 was actively promoted by Academician E. M. Primakov, then director of the Institute.

Purchasing expeditions are practiced - to the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Siberia, during which museum employees negotiate the purchase of objects of Eastern culture and art from private collectors and the local population.

The purpose of such expeditions is not only to replenish the museum's funds, but also to carry out serious research activities: based on the results of this work, our employees published scientific articles and defended their dissertations.


- Are Yemen and Mongolia not the only non-CIS countries where the museum cooperates with scientists?

- Yes, such cooperation on a large or smaller scale was conducted almost all the time of our work. Especially fruitful were the 1950s and 1970s, when popular revolutions prevailed in many Eastern countries - in China, North Korea, Vietnam, when India gained independence. In those years, the museum often hosted exhibitions of beautiful, large collections of folk art donated from these countries.

The international activities of the State Museum of Oriental Art are wide and diverse. We have many friends abroad. Exhibitions of collections of foreign museums are held, business contacts are established with a number of embassies, meetings are held with cultural figures of foreign countries.-

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our employees take part in scientific conferences in many countries.

At the turn of 2013-2014, our museum, together with other Russian museums, participated in the exhibition "Russian Avant-garde: Siberia and the Far East" in Florence. One of the exhibits there was the work of the Russian artist Pyotr Konchalovsky " Family Portrait (on the background of a Chinese panel)", 1911. And just imagine - we found the same panel in the Chinese collection of our museum and brought it to Florence! Visitors were delighted: it is not so often that you can see the object depicted on the canvas itself next to the picture.

The appearance of the museum and its "specialization" have changed somewhat in recent decades - it is gradually turning from an artistic one to an artistic and ethnographic one. However, the interest of visitors to it is only growing - it is still one of the most visited in Moscow.

How are African countries represented in the GMW?

- Unfortunately, not enough. Our African collection consists of only about one and a half thousand exhibits, mostly works of folk art. They were left as a gift to the museum by the organizers of exhibitions of such art that took place in Moscow in the 1960s and 1970s, and students from African countries who studied in Moscow. We plan to gradually expand the African section. Moreover, there is no sufficiently complete African art and ethnographic collection in any of the country's museums, with the possible exception of the St. Petersburg Kunstkamera.

Which collection of the museum do you consider the most interesting?

"There are many of them. One of the most interesting is the collection of classical Chinese paintings. In addition to our museum, only two other museums - the Hermitage and the Kiev Art Museum-can boast of having such collections.

Where do you get your funds to buy new exhibits?

- The main part of the funds is allocated by the state. So, in 2014, through the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, we acquired a large collection of oriental rarities - ancient Chinese and Japanese vases, screens, Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, etc. But we've also learned to make some money ourselves. Money from the sale of tickets, souvenirs, travel guides, and catalogs is used for purchases. There are also sponsors, although there are not as many of them as we would like. An important source of income is gifts: for example, from artists whose works are displayed at exhibitions in the museum. Recently, a generous gift - 25 rare works by Indonesian artists - was given to us by the Russian orientalist V. V. Sikorsky, who worked in this country for many years.


- On our way to your office, we stopped at a small bookstore on the ground floor and found that most of the books presented there are publications directly from the museum, and the vast majority of authors are employees of the State Museum of Fine Arts. Tell us about this work of yours.

- The range of publishing and educational activities of the museum is very wide. Every year we produce about a dozen and a half books and brochures published by the State Museum of Oriental Art. Most of them are descriptions of our collections, guides to the sections of the museum and catalogues of exhibitions held in our halls. Each published catalog is a serious scientific work, which is also interesting and accessible to the most popular readers.

We also publish scientific monographs and collections of articles, the authors of which are our employees, well-known scientists, for example, from the Institute of Physics and Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and foreign researchers. So, to the 80th anniversary of the famous ethnologist, cultural historian and archaeologist, corresponding member. S. A. Arutyunov's Russian Academy of Sciences published a collection of articles "Milestones on the Capes" in 2012.

A significant part of the books is addressed not only to members of the scientific community, but also to a wide range of readers. Such is, for example, the book "The Dragon and the Phoenix in the Art and Culture of the East" published in 2012. These two characters are very popular in China, Japan, Vietnam, Iran, and other Eastern countries, but few people know how to" interpret " the numerous images of these fantastic creatures. A group of museum scientists set out to solve this problem, and the book sold out very quickly.

A number of books were prepared by the museum's staff together with scientists from the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Our special pride is the museum guide, published in 2012. Quite voluminous - 225 pages-the pocket-sized volume contains not only detailed descriptions of each section of the museum's exposition, but also images with extensive "subtexts" - descriptions of the most interesting exhibits. Detailed guides to sections of the museum's permanent exhibition have also been published: "Art of China", "Art and Culture of India", "Art of Afghanistan", etc. Based on the results of archaeological expeditions, books are prepared and published, the genre of which can be defined as an "illustrated monograph". Almost all of our books are printed on excellent coated paper with very high-quality illustrations.

Since we are talking about educational activities, we will discuss the following issues:

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please tell us about the lectures, film screenings and other "cultural and mass work" that the museum conducts, as they said recently.

- We also consider this work very important. During the" lecture year " - from October of this year to April of next year - you can listen to more than a hundred (!) lectures on a variety of topics related to the East in one way or another. They are combined into 21 thematic cycles. Who are the lectures intended for? The program compiled for the audience reads: "The lecture Hall of the State Museum of Oriental Art is designed for those who love the East and want to know as much as possible about it. Our lectures are designed to expand and diversify your knowledge, make your perception of the culture and art of the peoples of the East richer and deeper."

Indeed, among the series of lectures offered to students are, for example, the following: "Art and Culture of China", "Art and Culture of Japan", "Art and Culture of South, Central and South-East Asia", "Central Asia: from Antiquity to the Middle Ages", "Archaeological Travels in the Christian East". Schoolchildren, including first-graders, as well as pre-school children, are also not forgotten - the cycles "Eastern Fairy Tale" and "Little Traveler"are intended for them.

In general, the" cultural and mass palette " of the museum is very diverse. It includes, for example, "Japanese kinovtorniki" - the hall is almost always full. As it turns out, there are not so few fans of new Japanese films. Within the walls of the museum, everyone can be taught several variants of Chinese "tea ceremonies"for a reasonable fee. And also invite you to a tasting of various varieties of Chinese tea. Other events of the same kind can be found on the Internet at the GMV website.

In recent years, the Museum of Oriental Art has been participating in the Moscow-wide action "Night of Museums". With us, this "night" ends at midnight. During the evening and night hours, the museum manages to receive more than 3 thousand people. And this is not all who patiently stood in a long queue. In general, rumors that museums are "going out of fashion" are greatly exaggerated. For example, I am pleased to see that there are more and more parents with children among the visitors - such a "family interest" in the museum is welcome.


"One last thing. What do the museum staff expect from 2015?

- Naturally, the museum's collections will be replenished with new exhibits and new interesting exhibitions, and the number of visitors, including regular ones, who I would call friends of the museum, will grow. But first and foremost, we are waiting for our internal problems to be resolved, hopefully with the help of the Moscow Government and the Ministry of Culture. The building on Nikitsky Boulevard is barely enough to accommodate the museum's exposition itself. The museum has long been in urgent need of a modern, well-equipped repository of many thousands of works of art and culture, rooms for the library, archive, restoration workshops, lecture halls, children's clubs, photo labs, etc. However, recently there was an idea to give us one of the pavilions of the renovated VDNH - I hope that it will come to life.

We are in talks to resume the work of our archaeological expedition in Tajikistan, and we hope that they will be successfully completed this year. There are plans to expand the work also in Kalmykia, Abkhazia and, possibly, in the Crimea, in the region of Bakhchisarai.

We are going to start preparing for the museum's 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated, as I have already said, in 2018.

Due to the expected activation of the Russian-Yemeni Archaeological Expedition, we will probably expand the Middle East direction of the museum's activities.

As in previous years, the museum will host several thematic exhibitions. Recently opened an exhibition under the unusual title "Tea, wine, poetry". It is about how different cultures of the East combined tea drinking, drinking good wine with reading and writing poetry. We have been preparing such an exhibition for several years. We expect that the name itself will "intrigue" potential visitors to the museum, and their number will increase.

We are planning to hold an exhibition of oriental edged weapons from private collections.

In conclusion, I would also like to express the wish that the pages of the Asia and Africa Today magazine will more often publish materials related to the work that is being done at the State Museum of Oriental Art. This can include stories about our new exhibits, scientific expeditions in which our scientists participate, as well as their author's articles on a variety of topics. Personally, I have special feelings for your journal - it was on its pages back in 1976, in the September issue, that the first scientific article by the then very young scientist A. V. Sedov (co - authored with my teacher, Professor B. A. Litvinsky) was published.

Finally, I cannot but say that due to the recent reorientation of the economic and, to some extent, political life of our country to the East, I believe that public interest in the culture of Asian and African countries will grow in the foreseeable future. The Museum of Oriental Art will try to meet these new challenges.

The interview was conducted by K. V. MESHCHERINA and N. I. PETROV


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