Russian Security Forces Raid Moscow’s Garage Museum

Moscow's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Russian Police have conducted searches at Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. According to Ostorozhno Novosti’s news channel on Telegram, officers were present at the museum’s archival building and another building where the Garage conducts walking tours. The outlet noted that Garage supervisors and curators were detained and barred from using phones until the searches concluded.

The law enforcement officers arrived in unmarked cars around noon Moscow time and reportedly did not identify themselves to museum staff. They had a list of senior museum managers they wished to speak with, six of whom were held at the Garage office as of Friday afternoon.

Federal Security Service (FSB) agents conducted a two-hour search at the Garage before departing without making any arrests. However, as reported by RBC and Novaya Gazeta Europe, the reason for these investigative actions remained unclear.

Contrary to these reports, the Podyom news outlet claimed that employees at both buildings denied the presence of police searches. Official confirmation or denial from law enforcement authorities was not provided. Ostorozhno Novosti suggested that some Garage employees linked the searches to LGBTQ+ literature stored in its archive.

Earlier in April, the outlet highlighted that Garage’s bookstore removed the countercultural Almanack Moloko Plus and works from left-wing publisher Directio Libera from its shelves following threats.

Established in 2008 by Dasha Zhukova and her then-husband Roman Abramovich at the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, Garage relocated to Gorky Park in 2012. The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow has a relatively short but vibrant history, marked by its evolution from a private art space to a leading cultural institution in Russia.

The museum initially occupied the premises of the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, an iconic constructivist building in Moscow. The Garage was conceived to showcase contemporary art and foster cultural exchange, aiming to bridge the gap between Russian and international artistic communities.

Under the direction of curator and art historian Kate Fowle, the Garage quickly gained prominence for its innovative exhibitions, educational programs, and interdisciplinary approach to contemporary art. It became known for its commitment to supporting emerging artists while hosting retrospectives of established figures.

In 2012, the Garage underwent a significant transformation when it relocated to its current site in Gorky Park, a move that allowed for expanded exhibition spaces and facilities. This relocation marked a new chapter for the museum, solidifying its position as a hub for contemporary art in Moscow.

Since then, the Garage Museum has grown in stature, hosting significant exhibitions, lectures, performances, and film screenings. It has also expanded its reach through digital initiatives and international collaborations, further cementing its reputation as a vital cultural institution within Russia and on the global stage.

Today, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art inspires dialogue and provokes thought while fostering creativity in a rapidly changing world. Its commitment to accessibility, innovation, and cultural exchange ensures it remains at the forefront of contemporary art in Russia and beyond.

Top Photo © Artlyst 2024

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