Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

August 2008

Foster + Partners Paints a New Future for Pushkin Museum

By Tim McKeough

Foster + Partners has been commissioned to design an ambitious, $177 million masterplan for the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the largest museum of European art in Moscow. The institution’s collection includes works by Rembrandt, Piranesi, Renoir, Monet, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, as well as Egyptian antiquities. The goal of the project is not only to increase exhibition and archive space, but to develop the site into a vibrant cultural quarter.

Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
Image courtesy Foster + Partners

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The 1-million-square-foot project calls for the restoration of the institution’s 1912 Beaux Arts home designed by Roman Klein, along with the reinvention of 19th-century buildings surrounding the facility that are owned by the Pushkin. The intent is to unify the structures so they “read more clearly as an entity,” explains Spencer de Grey, head of design at Foster + Partners. “It’s a whole raft of design interventions intended to link the complex together without destroying the inherent character of the historic buildings.”

Additionally, the project entails converting roadways to landscaped pedestrian zones, and constructing four new buildings to house a gallery, library, cinema, and an administrative center. The plan also adds two new underground circulation routes for pedestrians, which will link various buildings and serve as exhibition space. In this way, the architects aim to create a true all-weather facility.

The Pushkin is scheduled to close for construction in 2009, and reopen in 2012—just in time for its centennial celebration.

Foster + Partners’ list of high-profile projects in Russia is rapidly growing. Other commissions include the redevelopment of New Holland Island into a cultural hub in St. Petersburg, and Khanty Mansiysk, a crystalline tower in Siberia.

In Moscow, the firm is working on Russia Tower, which at 2,009 feet high is expected to be the tallest building in Europe; the Zaryadye Project, a mixed-use development next to the Kremlin and Red Square that will rise on the site of the demolished Rossiya Hotel; and Crystal Island, a miniature city contained within an audacious, 1,476-foot-tall, 27-million-square-foot tent-like spire. If constructed, it will be the largest building in the world.

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