The exotic art-deco mansion in Zamoskvorechie is home to the main branch of the State Tretyakov Gallery, housing the world’s best collection of Russian icons and an outstanding collection of other pre­revolutionary Russian art.

The Tretyakov gallery is an absolute must see in Moscow because it is definitely one of the best galleries in the world and highlights all major periods of Russian national art.

Here is some information about the gallery that will most surely prove to be useful.

The building (which is a masterpiece by itself) was designed by Viktor Vasnetsov between 1900 and 1905. The gallery started as a private collection of the 19th-century industrialist brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov, but in 1892 Pavel presented it to the state, and back then there already were more than 1,000 exhibits. Pavel was a patron of the Peredvizhniki, or Wanderers, a group of 19th-century Russian painters who broke away from the conservative Academy of Arts and started depicting common people and social problems. They are now Russia’s one of the most celebrated painters, and the gallery has some of the most exquisite examples of their work.

The Tretyakov’s 62 rooms are numbered and progress in chronological order from rooms 1 to 54, followed by eight rooms containing icons and jewellery. In rooms 20 to 30, the art of the most prominent Peredvizhniki artists occupies its own space. Look for Repin’s realist work, including the tragic Ivan the Terrible and his Son Ivan, in rooms 29 and 30. A selection of Levitan’s landscapes is in room 37. Vrubel’s masterpieces, including Demon Seated (1890), are in rooms 32 and 33. Icons are found on the ground floor in rooms 56 to 62. Rublyov’s Holy Trinity (1420s) from Sergiev Posad, widely regarded as Russia’s greatest icon, is in room 60.

For most Westerners, Russian art is something of a closed book up until the 20th century and the appearance of giants such as Kandinsky, Chagall and Malevich. The Tretyakov gives you the chance to discover the rich tradition from which these great artists sprang onto the world stage.

The Tretyakov gallery is a must see because it is a gateway to the world of Russian culture and life. Life, that existed for many centuries with unique traditions, its own looks and style. Even if you are not a fan of art, just walking for about 30 minutes through the halls of the gallery will tell you more about what is being Russian than a couple of days spent on the streets. It is a great experience and we hope you will share our excitement about it.

Here is a link to a virtual tour around the gallery.

And here is a link to their web-site with tips on how to get there 

The gallery is open daily (except Monday!) from 10.30 am to 7.30 pm. Ticket office is open until 6.30 pm, last admission is at 6.30 pm.