The Museum “Moscow House of Photography” was founded in 1996. It is the first Russian State Museum devoted to the art of photography. Reorganized in 2001 as the State Cultural Institution “Multimedia Art Museum”, the Museum sees its principal goal in encouraging the development of Russian photography and multimedia art-technology (video, installations, painting, performance, etc.), as well as helping the public to get acquainted with the best achievements of national and foreign photo- and media-art. Now the Museum occupies with the contemporary art and participates in the most important events like Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, etc.
The strategy of the Museum’s activities is based on a varied exhibition program. It includes one-man shows of famous masters of photography, projects dedicated to specific themes, to the history of the development of Russian photography, as well as international festivals of photography, video and contemporary art.
The fact that photography became the “most important art” has determined the international scope of photo-festivals organized by the Moscow House of Photography. Every year the Museum sets up some large-scale festival – Moscow International Month of Photography “Photobiennale” or the Moscow International Festival “Fashion and Style in Photography”. These events were not only greatly appreciated by the general audience and the world media, but sharply enhanced the artistic and social significance of photographic art in Russian public mentality.
The Moscow House of Photography also popularized the archives of a number of outstanding Russian photographers – Alexander Grinberg, Max Penson, Alexander Rodchenko, Georgy Petrusov, Vladislav Mikosha, Yuri Eremin, Ivan Shagin, Anatoly Egorov, Dmitry Baltermants, Vsevolod Tarasevich, etc. Some three hundred exhibitions of foreign masters were set up as part of the programs of international festivals. These included one-man shows of Eugène Atget, Maurice Tabard, Horst P. Horst, Man Ray, Robert Doisneau , Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helmut Newton, Bettina Rheims, William Klein, Sarah Moon, Erwin Olaf, Annie Leibovitz, Miwa Yanagi, Nobuyoshi Araki, Sebastião Salgado, Orlan, Nan Goldin, Andres Serrano and many others.
One of the principal functions of the Museum is to conduct joint research with state archives, libraries, other museums and funds; as well as to collaborate with private collectors and with those who inherited the archives of masters of Russian photographic art.
The Moscow House of Photography actively participates in international exhibitions, festivals, forums, fairs, among which are the Paris Month of Photography, European Month of Photography, Quai Branly Festival, PhotoGrafia in Rome, PHotoEspaña in Madrid, Foto&Photo in Milan, Europalia in Belgium, Photographic Meetings in Arles, PIPFESTIVAL, etc.
The principal goal of the Museum’s exhibition programs is to encourage research on the works of Russian and foreign photo-artists, to make them accessible to the general public and to help develop new forms of media art-techniques, as well as to introduce up to date standards of exhibiting photography. The Museum also recognizes its duty to propagate Russian art abroad and to adequately represent it in the context of international art.
2. The Collection
The Moscow House of Photography owns a large collection of old and contemporary Russian photographs and video artists. The photographic heritage of Russia, due to a number of objective and subjective reasons, has greatly suffered in the past. This is why the Moscow House of Photography focuses specific attention on discovering, collecting and preserving photographs. There are no limitations regarding the collection both in terms of chronology or subject. It is constantly growing and at present contains more than eighty thousand original prints and negatives. All photo techniques are widely represented: from the earliest daguerreotypes (1850s), ferrotypes, ambrotypes to contemporary digital shots.
The collection includes works of such distinguished masters of Russian photography as Maxim Dmitriev, Piotr Pavlov, Carl and Viktor Bulla, Alexander Grinberg, Moisei Nappelbaum, Aleksander Khlebnikov, Max Penson, Yuri Eremin, Alexander Rodchenko, Arkady Shaikhet, Boris Ignatovich, Evgeny Khaldei, Dmitri Baltermants and many others.
The Moscow House of Photography also actively supports contemporary Russian photographers and artists and organizes the exhibitions in Russia and abroad.
The Moscow House of Photography also has on display works by outstanding foreign photographers – Roger Fenton, Sarah Moon, Luc Boegly, Stephane Couturier, Gerard Uferas, Keishi Takhara, Anthony Suau, William Klein, Martine Franck, Abbas, Mimmo Jodice, Christine Spengler, etc.
The Moscow House of Photography has set up the first photographic library in Russia. It is constantly growing and today has about five thousand items – books on the history and theory of photography, albums, exhibition catalogues, periodicals and reference editions. An electronic data base is also being created, which will be accessible on the Museum site. There is an agreement to trade books with a number of major publishing houses and museums, such as: “Novoye Literaturnoye Obozreniye” (“New Literary Review”), State Center of Contemporary Art, Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, Bordeaux Museum of Modern Art, Stella Art Gallery, Russian Museum (Palace Edition), Photopoche and Imago. The Museum owns a large video library, containing reports on all its important projects and events, as well as monographic films on the oeuvre of famous masters of photography.