Tretyakov Gallery

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You should never decide anything when you feel fatigued or stressed. Otherwise, you will end up like me. Believe it or not, a visit to Tretyakov Gallery was one of the most terrible mistakes I made last summer. There are two reasons: first, nobody wants to spend their precious bright sunny days inside (like me as an Indonesian for example), secondly, nobody chooses Tretyakov as an option to laze around in during the summer.
Despite the mistake I had made, I was still entertained when closely inspecting the gallery, spending about 4 hours inside just to observe all the collections (around 13,000 items) and then about 2 hours going around just peeking at the rest as we were too tired (in body and in soul) to closely examine the items. I think that at that time I finally understood the proverb: ‘Curiosity killed the cat’.


Facade of the building


Tickets to Tretyakov Gallery


For students 200 rubles and for others — 500 rubles
The Tretyakov Gallery is a must-visit destination in Moscow, especially if you are an art freak or a painting lover that understands the message behind a picture or even if you are just an amateur who is really curious like me. Some people overstate this gallery: ‘you are not in Moscow if you haven’t visited Tretyakov’, since they believe every person in this world loves art.
Being born in a country such as Indonesia, where art is expressed in different ways – through dishes and dances but not paintings, makes me absent-minded about paintings. Honestly, Tretyakov was the first and only gallery which I visited during my life. I don’t know how to ‘assess’ paintings and I don’t know which aspects I should focus on whenever I see the paintings. I am totally blind! But, okay, this time I would try to understand everything, I would force my small brain to interpret the message of the painters and would try to find a profound meaning in it.


Welcome aboard!
So, why is the name of the gallery Tretyakov Gallery?
It was named after the unmistakably generous merchant – Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov who acquired works done by Russian artists with the aim of collecting them in one place. Thanks to his perseverance, his art gallery now has about 1,276 paintings, 471 sculptures and 10 drawings by Russian artists, as well as 84 paintings by foreign masters! But, let me correct myself. Based on what I’ve found on Wikipedia, nowadays the amount of works has reached 13.000 pieces! So, can you imagine going around this art gallery in a day? It’s a horrible mistake. Nobody said that you need to visit it in one day. You can always go back again and again, focusing on what you want to see, which painting and which artist.


An amateur tried to understand the painting
Now back to the history of the art gallery, Tretyakov wasn’t only lavish, but was also a devoted citizen. He placed all these collections in his own family mansion which he purchased in 1851. And then, in August 1892, he made a really serious decision: he opened his gallery to the public. So that, until now everybody can enjoy what he previously compiled.
Here you won’t find the masterpieces of Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet or Michelangelo. Nope. Instead of them, Valentin Serov, Kuzma Vodkin, Ivan Aivazovsky and hundreds of others will welcome and indulge you into Russia’s world. It’s fully understandable if those names are not familiar to your ears. But, believe me; you won’t regret enjoying their great masterpieces.


You can sit in front of the picture and enjoy it for hours

My favorites

Rainbow by Ivan Aivazovsky
Considered as a Russian romantic painter, Aivazovsky dedicated himself to marine art. Most of his masterpieces are dominated by sea scenes such as storms, shipwrecks and so on. His fascination with sea began when he was still at an academy and continued throughout his life. The picture I’ve put above depicts a group of marines that are trying to survive the anger of the sea and felt hope as soon as they saw the rainbow. The meaning which I understood was that there’s always a rainbow after the storm. Even though in Russia, this quote is better said: there’s always mess, again snow and maybe another stormy cold day after the storm.
Girl with peaches, Valentin Serov
This picture is unquestionably famous among Russians. I still remember that two years ago, some devoted Russians stood in line patiently in a blizzard just to get a ticket to see this painting. The scene as you’ve seen was about a girl with some peaches and some maple leaves, depicting the spring that has almost arrived. (Judging from the yellow-greenish leaves in the window and how happy the face of the girl was, she also wore a long sleeve blouse without any jacket so I guess that the spring had almost come at that time).


Ivan Shishkin — the morning in the pine forest

DO’s and don’t’s:


  1. Make sure that you take a map or a guidebook that are available when you buy a ticket (I didn’t take one and I got lost – didn’t understand what or which collection I needed to see)
  2. Read a bit about Russian’s artists?
  3. Bring mineral water in your bag as you need to go around halls, halls and more halls.
  4. Focus on what you want to see (if you already know).


  1. Don’t eat there.
  2. Don’t bring cameras, except your cellphone.
  3. Don’t touch the paintings.


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