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Kiev Museum of Western and Oriental Art

Excursions with Kiev Museum of Western and Oriental Art

15 Tereshenkovskaya St.
The Museum of Art named after Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko was founded in 1919 on the basis of their private museum. The museum is also called the Museum of Western and Oriental Art. Now it keeps one of the best collections of foreign art in Ukraine. Since 1919 the number of exhibits has been more than 13 times increased — from 1,250 to nearly 17,000 artworks, with 2,000 pieces exposed in museum halls. Visitors can view many remarkable samples of foreign art: Ancient Greek, Roman, Italian, French, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Persian, Turkish, Egyptian, etc. The famous founders of museum's collections Bogdan Khanenko and his wife Varvara always dreamt of opening a public museum of art in Kiev, while collecting works of famous artists and sculptors. Finally their dreams came true. In 1999 the museum they created celebrated its 80th anniversary. The collection of the museum consists of 25 thousands of exhibits and is considered to be the biggest foreign art collection in Ukraine. Among the museum's collection there are real fine art masterpieces. There is, for example, the world-famous work of Diego Velasquez, The Portrait of Infanta Margaret, located in the Spanish hall of the museum. The famous portrait appeared in Kiev after Bogdan Khanenko purchased it in Berlin on the sale of Hamburg council Weber's collections. The presentation of the painting in Kiev was arranged very mysteriously. Khanenko hadn't informed the guests of the banquet about the realpurpose. When the curtain was taken off the Velasquez' masterpiece, the audience was really impressed. The picture created a real furore in Kiev's cultural life of the time. Khanenko's cultural heritage is the core of the museum's collection. The breadth of collectors' range of interest is impressive. There are Egyptian statues and bronze sculptures, antic terracotta and glassware, Roman and Greek sculptures, Byzantine exhibits, ivory, church stained-glass, icons, fabrics, jewelry of Kiev Rus. With time the collection enriched and formed, thanks to the efforts of many famous people. The famous patron of art from Saint Petersburg, V. Shavinskiy, donated about 200 priceless masterpieces of Flemish, Netherlands and Dutch painting schools. The museum's stock was enriched with unique Chinese paintings of the 16th-20th centuries. Taisia Jasparre, native Ukrainian wife of French ambassador in Peking Andre Stephen Jasparre, presented 400 scrolls of paintings to the museum. Every item of the museum's collection has its interesting history. The appearance of valuable Juan de Zurbaran's still-life painting is the whole story. Once famous stud-owner from Moscow Malyutin decided to get rid of old things left from the previous owner on the attic of his new house. Moscow millionaire was not interested in the stuff kept there but also did not allow Khanenko to research it. He forced Khanenko to buy all the stuff at once. Khanenko decided to take a risk. The result was not a loss. Among these things there was the valuable masterpiece of famous Spanish painter, a fantastic boon for an art collector and also some excellent paintings of Dutch masters. The building of the museum was constructed under the project of a famous architect from Saint Petersburg F. Meltzer in the 80s of the 19th century. Then it was reconstructed and decorated several times according to the plans of the Khanenko family. Being a famous specialist in the history of Kiev, V. Kovalinsky once said «this building was the shell and the architectural addition to the great art collections of the Khanenko family.» Although the collection covers a wide range of countries, it does not claim to complete representation of periods and styles of the foreign art and creative manners of foreign artist. It is not the number of art pieces, but unique nature of many of them that makes Kiev Museum of Western and Oriental Art famous not only in Ukraine but far abroad as well.

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