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State Tretyakov Gallery

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About the Museum

The launch of digital products is more than a new approach to audience engagement. It also opens up opportunities for monetizing projects and fundraising for the development of the museum. For example, during the pandemic, the Tretyakov Gallery launched the My Tretyakov project, a collection of digital copies of works of art with descriptions by curators and custodians. The project was prepared jointly with the Mir payment system and has a financial component. Some paintings are available free of charge, while others can be accessed for a small donation.

The Tretyakov Gallery emphasizes that such projects have mostly an educational function, with commerce playing a secondary role. For now, this approach is being applied to new products. They remain free so that loyal online users do not shy away.

Zelfira Tregulova

Director

  • How ready was the museum to transition to an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

    If we compare the development of digital technologies in the Tretyakov Gallery with that in the State Hermitage or the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, we must admit that by March 2020 we were severely lagging behind. My colleagues hate to hear it, but it’s true. We were inferior both in the scale and the complexity of our online programs.

    Please understand me correctly. We were well aware of the importance and the necessity of an online presence. Yet we tended to think that we needed some amazing visionary to lead our digital efforts. Unfortunately, such a person was nowhere to be found.

    It turned out that we were able to start up on our own, without an expert. We were newbies, doing many things for the first time, which spurred on our enthusiasm. That is how an incredible breakthrough took place. Within a few months, the Tretyakov Gallery burst into the ranks of the leading Russian museums in terms of online programs.

    © State Tretyakov Gallery

    Apparently, our degree of internal readiness was so high that we managed to nail it. This is evidenced by the growth of the Tretyakov Gallery’s online audience from 2 million a year to 11.6 million in 2020.

    And most importantly, we managed to catch the last ride. Here, a reference to Vienna is appropriate. The Western museums began to close earlier than in Russia. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we were in close contact with our foreign colleagues, and when they began to write repeatedly that they were closing, we realized that this inconceivable thing, the closure of the Tretyakov Gallery, was about to become a grim reality. Then we started filming online programs with incredible intensity.

  • How have quarantines and lockdowns influenced the development of the museum's digital projects?

    Clearly, we have already gotten our feet wet and have seen how effective the digital option can be. We have become much more active on social media. For example, on YouTube we are ranked among the best in the world. Last year, the Tretyakov Gallery channel received the Silver Button award. We have 170,000 subscribers, more than any other Russian museum and on par with the largest museums in the world, such as the Louvre. Of course, we are planning to develop this capability and ramp up our efforts.

  • What project should someone start with when getting to know the museum’s online offerings? Which platform best captures its spirit and can become the entry point for digital tourists?

    Our projects are very different, and it is difficult to choose only one. Naturally, the best way to understand the Tretyakov Gallery is through our website, which we are constantly modernizing.

    But the times require very quick adaptation. Therefore, I would also mention the Tretyakov Gallery online tour with Sergey Shnurov. This is despite criticism and the fact that it may be seen as indirect self-promotion, as the second featured individual in the program is me. In this project, offered by Sberbank, I was finally able to do what I had dreamed of for a very long time—talk normally, freely, emotionally, deeply, and engagingly about Russian art.

    This was done while making it clear that Russian art is not a marginal repetition of the Western masterpieces, but an incredibly bright phenomenon in the history of world culture, a separate artistic civilization.

    This dream was fulfilled in our film. A week to think, two days to shoot, then another 12 days to edit. The result is a kind of entry into what the classical Tretyakov Gallery is and what Russian art is. Therefore, my answer would be the website and the online tour with Sergey Shnurov.

    © State Tretyakov Gallery

  • Will online projects replace offline museum spaces and eliminate them forever?

    Many have said to me, “You are so active online! Aren’t you afraid that when you reopen, you’ll have a lot fewer people coming? Won’t your audience remain online?” And every time I have answered, “No, I’m not afraid.” Because we do our best to get people interested. And then they will definitely come, because, having felt a strong impact online, they will want to have an experience that is two or three times stronger offline.

    © State Tretyakov Gallery

    Especially if we are talking about such exhibitions as, for example, “Dreams of Freedom. Romanticism in Russia and Germany.” We made three films about this exhibition. But no matter how we shot it, you needed to get into this space to understand that this was a true breakthrough. To understand how much it means when a fresh curator’s thoughts are united with romantic masterpieces from Russian and German museums in a single space.

    You have the option to go right or left. You do not have a prescribed path; you interact with the project. Every time, you see and absorb something new. No matter how many times you have been there, you still get goosebumps.

  • The information provided by The State Tretyakov Gallery in summer 2021.

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project team

Author

Chief-editor

Producer

Designer

Developer

Project Manager

Assistant Producer

Diana Terenteva

Kirill Golovkin

Ali Muratkali

Karina Golubenko

Nadezhda Savina

Victoria Davidyan

Rina Podolski

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