The Museum of Fine Arts, Bishkek

The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the first museums in Kyrgyzstan, and was founded in 1935. Originally it was called the National Art Gallery, and was held in St. Nicholas Church in Oak Park. The first painting displayed were gifts from galleries around the Soviet Union, such as the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow. More and more pieces were purchased, too, and now the collection numbers over 17,500 items.

When the current building was built in 1974, the church became the Artists Union Gallery, and the main Museum of Fine Arts moved to the current building on Sovetskaya Street. There is a large collection of applied arts, including shyrdaks, embroideries, and carvings, as well as a collection of Russian and Soviet art, including paintings, drawings, woodcuts, and sculptures. There is also a collection of linocuts by Theodore Hertzen, depicting the Epic of Manas, and a number of replicas of famous Egyptian, Greek, and Roman statues.

Though the displays and lighting aren’t always the best, the works at the Museum of Fine Arts is well worth a visit. There are frequent temporary exhibits featuring the best of local artists and works from abroad.