Cover picture © credits to minkultrb.ru
Cover picture © credits to minkultrb.ru

Buryat craft: Sampilov Art Museum and beyond

3 minutes to read

Traditional crafts and ethnic art have always been flourishing in Buryatia, with the seeds of creativity and cultural diversity sown by local artists. Not only among the intelligentsia, the debate over establishing a collective has been a real talk, but this idea was also supported both by the central Soviet and local governments. Thus, in 1944, its doors opened the Sampilov Art Museum in Ulan-Ude, the treasury of Buryat paintings, graphic art, jewelry, and sculptures.

Back to history 

The cultural policy was oftentimes at the highlight of the Soviet state.

A Russian novelist and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn considered “culture to be almost the essence of political and social life, its meaning and purpose”.  

The same was true for the newly formed (1923) Buryat-Mongolian Republic, where the city’s bohemia was extremely active. It was so dynamic and inspired by the recent revolution that by 1940 the city lacked space to store the new artworks that reflected the Buryat self within the established Socialistic realism

Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum
Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum

Thus, at the Festival of Art and Literature in Moscow in 1940, the Buryat delegation raised the question of erecting the Art Museum in Ulan-Ude, or Verkhneudinsk back then. The green light was given and the construction works started. Though discontinued during the WWII, the works were finished in 1944. The grand opening was held on March 3rd, 1944. 

Museum collections 

The museum building sits in the city center, nearby the Central market and has a traditional Soviet-style architecture – its shape and form are no different from many other similar gray-stoned massive buildings throughout Russia.

Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum
Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum

The museum boasts with the thematic collections of Buryat, Russian, Soviet, and Buddhist art. Today, its collections count about 10 000 items, including paintings, sculptures, jewelry, objects of applied and decorative arts. Some of them have been loaned from the prominent State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg back in 1947 and still today form the golden core of the Russian Art Collection

Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum
Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum

Though no surprise - the Buryat Art Collection is the largest in the museum. Over the decades, the Buryat masters have derived inspiration from the rich cultural heritage. In their diverse works, they celebrated indigenous Buryat art, such as horsehair tapestry, blacksmith and jewelry, wood carving and painting with watercolors.  

Photo © credits to minkultrb.ru
Photo © credits to minkultrb.ru

Exhibitions not to miss

The Sampilov Art Museum has objects that are on display both in the permanent and visiting exhibitions. It constantly collaborates with various artists and discovers the new ones, too. Thanks to the collections gained throughout the years, the young generation today has a chance to study authentic classic works, get the style of great artists, develop their own aesthetic and artistic taste.

Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum
Photo © credits to Sampilov Art Museum

One of the collections not to miss is the Art Belig project. Meant to promote the modern Buryat art and craft, it counts about 200 works in different styles and techniques – from punchwork and dough-making to bone and wood carving. Not only can the visitors see the works but also to choose a gift for their friends and relatives.

Sampilov Art Museum, Ulan-Ude
Sampilov Art Museum, Ulan-Ude
ул. Куйбышева, 29, Улан-Удэ, Респ. Бурятия, Россия, 670000

Don’t miss the chance to embrace one of the local culture’s facets by getting immersed in the Buryat craft at Sampilov Art Museum


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The author

Elena Bubeeva

Elena Bubeeva

Hi, I am Elena. 28 years old, from Siberia. Communications enthusiast and nature lover, I spend much time talking about sustainable tourism, trails, and places for a good pizza. Join me for some tips and tricks around the coldest region in the world aka Siberia.

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