Visual treasures of the State Museum of Fine Arts in Bishkek

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"Na toku", Feodor Stukoshin, 1949. Photo credit Ⓒ State Museum of Fine Arts
"Na toku", Feodor Stukoshin, 1949. Photo credit Ⓒ State Museum of Fine Arts

If one picture is worth a thousand words, the State Museum of Fine Arts in Bishkek is worth 18 million words. Named after the father of Kyrgyz fine arts, Gapar Aytievt, it consists of the must-see visual treasures of Kyrgyzstan. The museum collection has 18 000 paintings, graphics, sculptures, and other decorative artifacts. Just for 20 soms (less than 50 cents), you can take a fascinating journey through time and space with the guidance of Russian romantics Ayvazovskiy, Vereshagin, Shishkin; or outstanding Soviet-Kyrgyz artists such as Chuykov and Aytiev; or many more modern artists. 

"Dolon", Abday Sulaymanov, 1974. Photo credit Ⓒ State Museum of Fine Arts
"Dolon", Abday Sulaymanov, 1974. Photo credit Ⓒ State Museum of Fine Arts

The history of the museum

Opened in 1934, with the first exhibition presenting paintings from Tretyakov Gallery, the State Museum of Fine Arts celebrated its 85th anniversary this year. The founder of the museum was a legendary painter Semen Chuykov, born in Bishkek, in Russian peasants' family. He was famous for paintings of Kyrgyz landscapes and its people. His works are kept in the museums and galleries of Russia, India, and Germany. The golden age of the museum was in the 1970s when they moved to a new building of much more modern architecture. Back then, the museum had more funding and support from the government and, expectedly, attracted more of the public interest. During this time, the museum obtained its golden collection which includes paintings of S. Chuikov, G. Aytiev, S. Akylbekov, A. Ignatiev, L. Ilina, A. Mikhalev, L. Mesarosh, O. Manuylova, T. Sadykov, D. Umetov, T. Herzen, B. Dzhumabaeva, A. Asrankulova, and S. Aytiev. 

"Uch kurgan", Aleksandr Voronin, 1968. Photo credit Ⓒ State Museum of Fine Arts
"Uch kurgan", Aleksandr Voronin, 1968. Photo credit Ⓒ State Museum of Fine Arts

A second breath of the museum

Lately, the museum was initiating and participating in many interactive projects with the audience, and offering its walls to many modern artists. The museum had massive success with the "Night at the Museum" event, alive paintings, and a considerable number of workshops for kids and adults. Pottery, graphic design, engraving, 3D modeling, and other modern seminars took place in the walls of the museum. Besides, the museum is participating in a multicultural exchange with other countries. For example, an exhibition of Japanese dolls and Chinese porcelain were presented recently. These kinds of innovative, new projects are bringing more visitors and giving a second breath to the museum. 

If you are into arts, the Gapar Aytiev Museum or the State Museum of Fine Arts is a must-visit place in Bishkek. It is the oldest national museum with the most abundant collection of visual arts in Kyrgyzstan. The treasures of the museum include permanent exhibitions like the Russian hall, classical Kyrgyz art, an applied arts gallery with decorative folk embroidery; and exciting new exhibitions. 

Gapar Aitiev Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts
Gapar Aitiev Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts
Абдрахманова 196, 720000 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Cover photo credit to Ⓒ iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz


The author

Gulzat Matisakova

Gulzat Matisakova

Hello. I am Gulzat, from Kyrgyzstan. I studied documentary filmmaking in Europe. In my free time I enjoy watching films and hiking. I am here to guide you through the treasures of Kyrgyzstan.

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