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Moscow's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture will become Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Dasha Zhukova with Rem Koohaas and a model for the new Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Image courtesy of Garage Center for Contemporary Culture.

MOSCOW.- Moscow’s Garage Center for Contemporary Culture today announced that beginning on 1 May, it will become Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

The announcement was made following Garage’s 2nd International Conference—The Reflexive Museum: Responsive Spaces for Publics, Ideas, and Art—which brought together thought leaders from around the globe on 20-21 March for discussions about what it means to build a responsive institution focusing on current debates around notions of ‘the public’, the museum as a repository of experience, and the development of cultural spaces as laboratories for art production and creative thinking.

Garage’s new name reflects a long-term commitment to providing broad public access to contemporary art and ideas in Russia, a commitment that has been increasingly exhibited throughout Garage’s six-year history with robust educational programming, community outreach, the creation of the first archive of materials related to contemporary art in Russia, and most recently, the development of a permanent home in a new building designed by Rem Koolhaas with OMA, which is due to open in Gorky Park in 2015.

Founded in 2008 by Dasha Zhukova, Garage has become a leading example of the new wave of privately-funded, publicly-driven institutions that are changing the face of museum culture worldwide. From the outset, Garage was established as a non-profit project with a mission to reflect on current developments in contemporary art practice, providing opportunities for the production of new work and creative thinking in Russia. Since 2010, Anton Belov has served as Garage’s Director, and his leadership has seen the major growth of the institution’s education program, archive, and education center. In 2013, Belov was joined by Kate Fowle, Garage’s first Chief Curator. Together, the pair has formalized a long-term creative vision for the organization, which encompasses education, training, publishing, research programs, and expansive plans for an archive, as well as exhibitions with international and Russian artists.

“Over the past six years, Garage's archives, educational programs, publications, and exhibitions have developed significantly, engaging ever-growing audiences and vibrant cross-institutional dialogues," said Founder Dasha Zhukova. "As we set forth to open our new building designed by Rem Koolhaas, we thought it was of great importance to take on a name that best articulated our mission, both to Moscow and abroad.

Fueled by a team of young professionals driven to create a new vision for contemporary culture in Moscow, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art will provide a meeting place for people, art, and ideas to create history. The Museum will be housed in a stunning renovation of the famous 1960s Vremena Goda (Seasons of the Year) pavilion, a prefabricated concrete structure that has lain derelict for more than two decades in Gorky Park. OMA’s design for the 5,685 square-meter building includes substantial exhibition galleries, a mediateque for access to the Archive Collection, a creative center for children, a screening room, and an auditorium, as well as a bookshop and café. The design preserves original Soviet-era elements—including a large mosaic, and decorative tiles and brick—while incorporating a range of innovative architectural and curatorial devices.

The organization’s extensive exhibition program became widely known for its accessible international outlook, successfully attracting an audience of both art professionals and those who had never visited a contemporary cultural space before. As audiences grew and developed, Garage expanded its activity in a number of key areas: publishing, research, artist grants, an extensive education program, and a public archive collection, created to preserve Russia’s contemporary artistic legacy for future generations. Established in 2012, the collection focuses on the development of art in Russia from the 1950s, together with a holding of avant-garde news articles from the early 20th century.

In the same year, Garage relocated from its former home, the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage – designed by the Constructivist architect Konstantin Melnikov in 1926 – to a more prominent and accessible location within Gorky Park. Since then, the organization has occupied a temporary pavilion designed specifically for Garage by 2014 Pritzker Prize winning architect Shigeru Ban, which is a 2,400 square-meter building, housing an exhibition hall, project space, café, and bookshop. In 2013, Garage also developed a new Education Center adjacent to the Pavilion with local practice Form Bureau. The Center provides 1,000 square-meters of flexible space dedicated to a wide-range of learning activities and specialist training for children, families, young people, and adults alike.

Announced in the year that the Hermitage Museum celebrates its 250th anniversary, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art aims to help amplify important questions about the development of new cultural institutions within Russia’s historic landscape. Garage’s recent conference—The Reflexive Museum (РЕШИТЕЛЬНЫЙ МУЗЕЙ)—proved a successful tool in encouraging dialogue around those questions by bringing together leading directors, curators, and art historians from around the world for conversations on an array of related subjects.  

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