Art in Russia and China

Contemporary Art Arrives to the Major Communist Countries of the World: Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow and Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai

Nicholas Sterling

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (OMA) in Moscow, Russia, and the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai, China, are two architectural jewels that hold some of the world’s best works of modern and contemporary art, and represent a phenomenon of cultural liberalization and vibrant artistic growth.

Recently, many cities in Russia and China—nations that for decades were and somehow still are part of the world’s communist axis—have been opening modern and contemporary art museums.

There may be many theories for this phenomenon, but there’s no doubt it has a lot to do with prestige, notoriety and the intellectual behavior of new generations in both countries, who feel the necessity of opening up to the world, after years of isolation. Not to mention the emergence of new well-to-do social classes that demand new stimuli no longer limited to the acquisition of luxury goods.

All of this underscores the moral obligation of showing their fellow countrymen a form of art that has been denied to them for a long time.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
OMA / Moscow, Russia

Designed by Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, who transformed what was once a 1960s-era restaurant in Gorky Park into a modern museum. It opened in June 2015, sponsored by Russian businessman, Roman Abramovich and his wife, Dasha Zhukova. The structure retained some of the ornaments and mosaics from the Soviet era, plus the original brick was used for interior walls and modular spaces with sliding walls were added.

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Two exhibition areas show new works in through extensive program of exhibits that reflect current cultural advances in Russia and throughout the world. The museum’s vast collection is the country’s one and only public archive of contemporary Russian art from the 1950s to present day.

Educational programs at Garage are one of the priorities of the institution. Through international scientific conferences, training courses and seminars, their aim is to integrate this accumulated knowledge and professional experience into the academic environment. Co-Founder Dasha Zhukova has stated that “Garage was founded with an international perspective, but now we are increasingly recognized as an internationally significant organization that not only presents, but also creates culture.”

For more information, visit the museum’s official website at:

Rockbund Art Museum
RAM / Shanghai, China

Located on a beautiful promenade by the river Huangpu in Shanghai, the museum itself is housed in an exquisite Art Deco building renovated by British architect David Chipperfield. Rockbund Art Museum RAM offers world-class programs and activities in a unique space, amidst the constantly expanding cultural scene of Shanghai.

OMA - RAM Museums

RAM’s curated programs feature Chinese and international artists, both acclaimed and emerging. Exhibitions reflect on the current challenges facing modern society. Every year, the museum presents a ground-breaking program of three exhibits and a special project named “RAM Highlight,” which explores artists’ most ambitious projects.

They recently launched research and education platforms for collaboration with universities, foundations and colleges. RAM has become an important force in bringing contemporary art to the general public. The museum was founded as an important part of the Rockbund Urban Renaissance project, which aims to renovate heritage buildings and revitalize the cultural milieu.

For more information, visit the official website at:

© | 2019