Muzeon Park of Arts is one of the places in Moscow you fall in love with once and for all. It happily combines the Soviet past and the latest novelties of Moscow life. Muzeon borders on Gorky Park (Russian: Tsentralny park kultury i otdykha imeni Gorkogo or Центральный парк культуры и отдыха имени М. Горького): they are joined by an embankment. It is the only park within the Garden Ring (Russian: Sadovoye koltso or Садовое кольцо).
The idea of creating a “park of arts” in this place was put forward by Soviet minister of Culture Ekaterina Furtseva. The project was launched in 1970 with the construction of the Central House of Artists (Russian: Dom khudozhnika or Дом художника) and the construction of a new building of the Tretyakov Gallery (Russian: Tretyakovskaya galereya or Третьяковска галерея) (to architects N. Sukoyan and Y. Sheverdyayev’s design). In its modern layout the Muzeon Park of Arts was developed in the early 1990s. After the collapse of the USSR numerous monuments of the Soviet epoch were dismantled. There was no call for them anymore, which prompted the creation of an open-air museum of Soviet culture. A vast territory of the square garden by the Central House of Artists on Krymsky Val[i] (Russian: Krymsky val or Крымский вал) was a perfect choice for that purpose.
Numerous monuments to the Soviet leaders – Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Yakov Sverdlov, Mikhail Kalinin, Leonid Brezhnev, and others – were collected in Muzeon. Since that time the collection has been replenished frequently. Today Muzeon is an unparalleled park in Russia. here you can see real masterpieces of sculpture created by recognised masters. In particular, sculptures commemorating the 50th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, Alexander Pushkin’s 200th anniversary, sculptural groups commemorating Stalin’s repressions’ victims have been added to the museum collection.
The park occupies the space of 24 hectares. It is a large and well-planned plot of green land stretching along the River Moskva (Russian: Moskva reka or Москва река) in the Garden Ring district. There are five entrances to the park, located near the Krymsky Val, Maronovsky and Third Golutvinsky side streets (Russian: Maronovsky, Trety Golutvinsky pereulki or Мароновский, Третий Голутвинский переулки). Some of the most interesting sights of Moscow are close by: the Gorky Park (the impressive colonnade of its main entrance is seen right opposite the main entrance to Muzeon); the Moscow Central House of Artists, and the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val which displays a retrospective of 20th century Russian and Soviet art; 18-19th centuries architectural landmarks– the churches of St. Maron and St. Nikholas in Golutvin; the houses once owned by industrialists and bankers Ryabushinskys and Tretyakovs (the founder of the Tretyakov gallery Pavel Tretyakov was born in the latter).
Muzeon and the neighbouring Moscow House of Artists are considered to be a Mecca for the capital’s creative people: there is always an exhibition on display or a film on here, you can buy books, oils and canvases for creative work or just lie on the grass or sit on a bench with a nice view of the river. The promenade area of the Krymskaya embankment (Russian: Krymskaya naberezgnaya or Крымская набережная) and an art exhibition have recently become part of Muzeon. You can buy paintings by contemporary Moscow artists and souvenirs at the comfortable pavilions along the River Moskva.
The key theme of Muzeon is the art of sculpture. There are over 700 sculptures here in total, including those which are recognised as classics in the art of monumental sculpture: the works by E. Vuchetich, V. Mukhina, S. Merkurov, O. Komov, Z. Vilensky, A. Rukavishnikov, and many others. There are postmodern sculptures in the park too. They were created in the late 20th – early 21st centuries and it sometimes makes you smile just to look at them. Many of them have become iconic monuments of the new Moscow.
Among the most famous sculptures of the Muzeon park is the monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky. It was installed in 1958 on Dzerzhinsky square (Russian: ploshchad Dzerzhinskogo or площадь Дзержинского) (Lubyanskaya (Russian: Лубянская) in Moscow opposite the building of KGB. The monument embodied the might of the Soviet Union, the power of the secret services founded by Dzerzhinsky in 1917 after the October revolution. The massive monument was carefully dismantled on 22 August 1991 at night after the failure of the attempt to overthrow the government by the State Committee on the State of Emergency. The words “executioner” and “shame” are clearly visible on the monument. They were made on those days in August when the fate of Russia was hanging in the balance. This monument is considered to be significant evidence of modern history. It would be a serious blunder to miss it if you are in Moscow.
The astonishing sculptural group close by which was created by sculptor E. Chubarov in 1998 is definitely worthy of attention. Wrapped in barbed wire is a hefty wall made up of over 200 stones shaped like human faces. It serves as a backdrop to the monument to Josef Stalin made of pink granite by architect S. Merkurov and brought here from the Izmailovsky park (Russian: Izmailovsky park or Измаиловский парк). While it was being dismantled, the monument was defaced and left as it is.
Closer to the embankment there is another Soviet artifact – the panel picture “USSR is the Stronghold of Peace». It is made in the shape of a giant coat of arms of the Soviet Union made of stainless steel. Until 1991 it was situated on Leninsky Avenue (Russian: Leninsky prospect or Ленинский проспект) marking the former city border and welcoming people coming to Moscow from the Vnukovo airport (Russian: Vnukovo or Внуково) which used to serve top government officials.
Sculptures like “Let us Beat Swords into Plowshares”, “The Warden”, Vera Mukhina’s work “We Demand Peace” made in connection with the 1950 war in Korea, a fragment of S. Vuchetich’s statue “Stand Till Death” (“To the Heroes of the Stalingrad Battle”) and others are among significant monuments of the Soviet period. A unique monument to the “father” of Japanese cinema Kaneto Shindo is out here too. It was installed to commemorate the director’s centenary. You can also find monuments to M. Gandhi, A. Einstein, S. Yesenin in the park.
Visitors to the Muzeon park can scrutinise the much disputable monument of the epoch of the 1990s: standing on the other side of the Vodootvodny canal (Russian: Водоотводный канал) is the monument to the first Russian emperor Peter the Great by Zurab Tsereteli. There is a widespread opinion that this giant sculpture was initially created to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. After the United States, Spain, and the Latin American countries refused to accept it, the reworked statue was finally turned into a monument to the Russian tsar and took its place at the point where the River Moskva and the Vodootvodny canal split. Yet, we have to admit that experts have been trying to disprove this version of creation of the monument.
Among the most notable sculptures are “Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein’ by Vladimir Lemport as well as “But Time, Time, Alexander !” (1999) by Vladimir Buinashev depicting poet A. Pushkin before the duel. The height of the Pushkin monument made of bronze is 166 cm – it corresponds to the famous poet’s height. A visitor can have their photo taken next to the monument to see how much taller or shorter than the poet they are. Among the sculptures there are mascot works, for example, “Shoes” and “Sphinx” by sculptor Dmitry Tugarinov (1995). It is believed that if you put some coins into the shoes, you are sure to have luck and happiness in the future.
In the course of reconstruction in the early 21st century Muzeon was decorated with refined landscape design. There are Alpine rock gardens, summer houses, fountains, paved pedestrian paths with wood covering, numerous benches and podiums here. Various ornamental plants and trees have been planted on the territory of the park. Beautiful large flower beds in line with the Chinese, Japanese, and European garden traditions have been laid out (the Oriental Garden).
General and themed excursions are organised in the park. “The School” offers lectures in architecture, art, and music. There are bicycle rentals and yoga lessons in the park too. The parks recreational facilities are excellent: there are cycle paths, cafes, and an open-air cinema; concerts are held every week. There are three well-equipped stages both for big concerts and festivals and chamber performances.
Despite the numerous sculptures visitors do not experience the unpleasant effect of a panopticon. In fact, the sculpture display in Muzeon can develop imagination in visitors of all ages and provide new experiences to them. The sculptures in the park do not bar each other, they perfectly fit the landscape, and do not interfere with your choice of the pace and direction of a stroll.
In 2014 Muzeon was ranked as Moscow’s best open-air area (by Geometria Focus Awards) and gained recognition and love of Muscovites. About two and a half million people visit the park every year! You can find information about the events in the Muzeon, order an excursion or buy souvenirs at the Infobox pavilion (Russian: Инфобокс) which is located just outside the entrance to the park from the side of Krymsky Val; the information is also available on the park official web site.
 Committee for State Security
 Abbreviated in Russian as GKChP or ГКЧП
[i] a street in the central district of Moscow