- The Central Exhibition Hall – the Manege – is located by the Kremlin Wall, in Alexander Garden.
- Moscow’s main exhibition space hosts international art forums and major exhibitions.
- The Manege gives special attention to projects related to the important periods of Russian history and Russian art.
- Initially designed for military drills, the Manege was built in 1817 on a site that had remained vacant after the Great Fire of Moscow (1812).
- The present-day structure dates from an early 21st century reconstruction that has considerably modified the Manege’s interior.
- All information and exhibit labels at the Manege are available in English.
The Manezh Central Exhibition HallRussian: Tsentralnyi vyistavochnyi zal «Manezh» or Центральный выставочный зал «Манеж» is the main exhibition venue in Moscow. It is situated in Alexander GardenRussian: Aleksandrovskiy sad or Александровский сад by the Kremlin walls. Over the last thirty years, Manezh has regularly hosted international art forums and compiled remarkable displays. It therefore makes a very strong impact on the cultural life of the country. It is here that the major part of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and the Photo Biennale are traditionally hosted. Despite this, The Central Manezh has no collection of its own, focusing on holding temporary exhibitions instead. The impressive exhibition space in the Central Manezh (over 9,000 sq.m) enables it to organise large-scale events.
It was at the Manezh in 1962, at the memorable exhibition of avant-garde artists “New Reality”, that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made a fiery speech denouncing the pointlessness and ugliness of formalism and abstractionism in painting. Today, you are highly unlikely to come across such a radically negative opinion about the exhibitions on display at the Manezh, but the public response to its events remains highly variable, just like it was sixty years ago. Over the last years, the Central Manezh has hosted major retrospective displays of artwork by some outstanding Russian artists and sculptors, such as Erik Bulatov and Ernst Neizvestny. Manezh pays a great deal of attention to projects related to key periods of the country’s history and Russian art. For instance, exhibitions which broke all previous records of public attendance have recently taken place in Manezh: the multimedia exhibitions “Rurikovichesa dynasty founded by the Varangian prince Rurik, who established himself in Novgorod around the year 862. My History” and “Orthodox Russia. Russia, My History”, the exhibitions “The Golden Age of Russian Avant-garde”, “Romantic Realism. Soviet Painting of 1925-1945”, and “Flying in Dreams and in Reality”.
Visitors are offered numerous courses in the history of art, cinema and literature. It also regularly organises meetings with artists. However, most workshops and lectures are held at other venues which are part of the Museum and Exhibition Association, “Manezh”, such as the New ManezhRussian: Novyi Manezh or Новый Манеж, the Vadim Sidur museumRussian: muzey Vadima Sidura or музей Вадима Сидура, the Nalbandyan museum-studioRussian: muzey-masterskaya Nalbandyana or музей-мастерская Налбандяна, the Chekhov houseRussian: domik Chekhova or домик Чехова, and the unique pavilion “Worker and Kolkhoz WomanRussian: Rabochiy i Kolhoznitsa or Рабочий и Колхозница” located directly under the feet of Vera Mukhinaa renowned Soviet sculptor’s monumental statue of the same name at VDNKhRussian: ВДНХ (short for the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy).
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THE MANEZH BUILDING
From the outside, this contemporary Moscow exhibition complex is an austere classicist building with a Greek pediment on its façade. The construction of Manezh was prompted by the great fire which devastated Moscow during the Patriotic War of 1812the war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812. Five years later, in 1817, it was decided to build a manège (the German word exerzierhaus, meaning a building for military exercise, was used) on the site by the order of Emperor Alexander Ireigned as Emperor of Russia from 1801 to 1825. The construction of the new building was supervised by engineer Augustin Betancourt and Major General Lev Carbonnier. Betancourt’s project caused a sensation in architecture at the time as the engineer had designed a unique wooden structure of beams and rafters which spanned 44.86 m without any internal support. To safeguard the wood from damage caused by insects, the whole attic was filled with shag (rolling tobacco), whose smell protected the rafters from insects. The tobacco was subsequently used in the Great Patriotic WarWorld War II.
Manege, which was originally created for cavalry dressage, ceased to be used for military purposes very quickly. In as early as 1831, it started to function as a venue for exhibitions, concerts, and folk festivals. There are historic records of the first large-scale ethnographic and polytechnic exhibitions which took place here in the 19th century.
However, Manege as we know it now retains little of 19th century architecture. The modern building appeared after the reconstruction supervised by architect Pavel Andreev at the beginning of the 21st century. As a result, it was redesigned and reequipped. Now, the building has a user-friendly infrastructure. Inside, there is an exhibition space spanning two levels and featuring escalators, lifts, a modern café, and even an underground parking lot. Overall, this may contradict Betancourt’s concept but it certainly makes getting to and around the place much easier.© 2016-2021 moscovery.com