Erarta: Largest Contemporary Art Museum in Russia
St. Petersburg is such a classical city but contemporary art has also found home there. The Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, the largest of its kind in Russia, offers a closer look at the state of contemporary art in Russia and Europe today.
“Our goal is to do everything so that people who come to Erarta see that contemporary art is both about them and for them, that the world is big and everyone has a place in it.”

Visitors taking in multimedia piece titled ‘Why People Don't Fly’

Contemporary Art Museum on Vasilyevsky Island
Did a contemporary art museum just open on Vasilyevsky Island? In early 2013, when I first heard about this new museum called Erarta, my immediate reaction was, “Why, of all places, on Vasilyevsky Island?” I had just received my certificate as a guide at the State Hermitage Museum, and quite naturally, my interest in Russian art was growing. I pored over works by Russian artists on display at Russian art museums. And most of them in St. Petersburg are easily accessible because they’re located around Nevsky Avenue. Vasilyevsky Island is a remote commuter town notorious for traffic congestions. I was pleased to hear that the island would have a contemporary art museum, but I also had my misgivings.
As soon as I walked up to the museum and saw two contemporary sculptures standing in front of the classical building, those worries gave ways to excitement. “Yes, Russian art is on the way up again!” That’s how I got into Russian contemporary art.
The two pieces are each called ‘Era’ and ‘Arta,’ and the name of the museum, which combines the two words, translates to ‘the era of art.’ The winged sculptures resemble Nike, the goddess of victory in Greek mythology. They also conjure up muses in art. Perhaps they represent a push for an era when art and everyday life merge as one. The Erarta wants to let the public know that contemporary art isn’t so profound.

Sculptures outside the main entrance to the museum. ‘Era of Art’ Dmitry Zhukov 2009, Bronze

Art Museum Leading Efforts to Popularize Russian Contemporary Art
The Erarta is the largest contemporary art museum in Russia. Since its opening on Sept. 30, 2010, it has hosted a series of exhibitions, guided tours, plays, concerts and educational programs. Though the building’s exterior exudes classical charm, you’ll discover more sophisticated design on the inside, befitting its status as the major contemporary art museum. Each of the five stories displays works by Russian artists from the late 20th century to the early 21st century. Its collection features about 2,800 pieces of paintings, graphics, sculptures, objet and installation art.
The Erarta has continued to expand its collection. And it doesn’t just work with metropolitan cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow; it works with artists all across Russia. Its major exhibition project, ‘Russia in Erarta,’ is part of that effort. The Erarta is also open to forging relationships with outside institutions. The museum’s collection has been available online through Google Art Project since the summer of 2015. You can take photos or videos as you wish, and blogging about the museum is also encouraged. The Erarta is far friendlier to the general public than most other art museums.
At Erarta, you’ll get to see works by both celebrated artists and unknowns. And maybe those unheralded artists will be famous all over the world in the future. Contemporary art today will become classic later on.

View of the special exhibition on Lamborghini

Special exhibition on sculptures by Salvador Dali

Visitors at the museum

“The Erarta Museum’s mission is to discover, research, collect and popularize works of art created by talented contemporary artists of Russia.”
To Make Contemporary Art Part of Life
The Erarta Museum tirelessly organizes exhibitions for its visitors and unearths new artists so that people who may feel unprepared will still take interest in contemporary art. Its goal is to reach out to as many people as possible so that contemporary art will become a part of their everyday life.
As stated above, the Erarta wants to let people know that contemporary art is about them and we all have a place in the big world of ours. Exhibitions there always feature works that deal with philosophical themes. They pose questions such as, ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Where did I come from and where am I going?’ They also compel you to think about things in life that bring you joy or pain, and also give you an opportunity to share thoughts on the world.

Mario Testino exhibition <Superstar>

The museum wants its visitors to be inspired by the courage of artists who express their views and visions of the world in contemporary techniques, so that they too can embark on a journey to find themselves. When visitors find joy and happiness as they enjoy works of contemporary art, then the Erarta Museum’s mission is complete.


U-Space, another Erarta within Erarta, is worth a close look. It’s a total installation built by multiple artists, and it provides visitors with special emotional experience. It’s made up of six sections, including Loading, Cherry Orchard, Childhood and Infinity. As they take in each part, visitors get to experience different types of life. Their experience will vary depending on their personal feelings and thoughts. This is where you decide whether to put up a wall or to become an organic part of the world. You’ll need to purchase a separate ticket to enter U-Space.
Must-See Pieces at the Erarta

Model of Bipolar Activity by Dmitry Kawarga, polymers, PC, biofeedback device, audio device, 2008, 270x500x130

The goal of Model of Bipolar Activity is to bring viewers feelings of equilibrium and harmony through interaction with objects. They penetrate into hidden places of the consciousness when you touch the metal plates that transfer impulses. Model of Bipolar Activity demonstrates, in real time, changes to activities of the left and right cerebral hemispheres, and the way commands are delivered by cerebral nerves, and how our thoughts, moods and recollection change.

Last Supper by Pavel Grishin, Installation, 2010, 170x640x170

Pavel Grishin recalls the famous piece of the same name by Leonardo da Vinci. Jesus and his 12 apostles are covered in rough canvas, compelling us to reflect on the mysterious genius of da Vinci and the meaning of the final meal as depicted in the Bible.

Game Over by Sergey Lakotko, 2009, 300х200х100

Sergey Lakotko dedicates this installation piece to his younger brother, who’s addicted to computer games. The young man being crushed under a Tetris block implies pitfalls of obsession with the virtual world.

Motherland by Nikolai Kopeikin, 2008, Acrylic on canvas

Nikolay Kopeikin is famous for humorous and satirical pieces. By some cruel fate, an elephant is left abandoned in Russia. It has to put up with the bitter Russian winter, and it longs for a warmer place.

After a few visits to the Erarta Musuem, contemporary art didn’t seem so difficult. There are enough places to sit down and rest there, and there are a lot of interactive features, too. You can attend shows at the performances hall and enjoy fine dining at the upscale restaurant inside the museum. It’s quite people-friendly and makes you want to come back for more. The Erarta Museum brings you creative and witty pieces of contemporary art by the trend-setting young Russian artists, and helps you recharge your batteries along the way.

Address 2, 29th line of Vasilyevsky Ostrov, St. Petersburg
Hours 10:00~22:00 (Closed on Tuesdays)
Phone + 7-812-324- 08-09

Where to Stay in St. Petersburg: LOTTE HOTEL ST. PETERSBURG
LOTTE HOTEL ST. PETERSBURG stands right across St. Isaac’s Square, the most famous landmark in the city. The hotel is housed in a historic building that was first erected in 1851 and has since been remodeled. The hotel is adjacent to the Nevsky Prospect, the State Hermitage Museum and Mariinsky Theatre. Standing six stories high with one underground floor, the hotel has 10 different types of rooms for a total of 150, and also offers a wide variety of restaurants and facilities.

Address 2, Antonenko Lane, Saint-Petersburg
Phone +7-812-336-10-00


June 2021 Editor:Jung Jaewook
Writer:Lee Hyunhee

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  • June 2021
  • Editor: Jung Jaewook
    Writer: Lee Hyunhee
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