North America’s only museum dedicated to preserving Russian art is housed in a former Spanish Colonial-style church just off 35W in South Minneapolis. Originally located in Bloomington, The Museum of Russian Art was founded in 2002 to showcase the acquisitions of art dealer Raymond E. Johnson and his wife Susan, who had a special interest in Russian Realism.
Rather than parse one chapter in a complicated history book, TMORA examines a broad range of work, from the Byzantine and Muscovite eras to the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. Past shows have included porcelain renditions of soldiers, farmers, and sailors; state-controlled nesting dolls; and a multi-media survey of female mavericks that cut across three nonconformist generations.
If you haven’t been recently (or ever), now is a great time to go. Sixty propaganda posters from the 40-year period leading up to the USSR’s final days hold court in the main gallery through March 15, 2020. Perestroika posters and prints with didactic social messaging are also in the mix.
In the Lower Gallery, you’ll find “Poetic Surrealism,” a solo exhibition of Ukraine-born, St. Paul-based painter Vladimir Dikarev. The show’s 31 fantastical, psychedelia-lite paintings (pictured above) were created between 1990 and 2019; they would appeal to any art fan drawn to the likes of Dalí, Magritte, Kahlo, Breton, and Ernst. Dikarev’s trans-dimensional trees, clouds, angels, and prophets were considered so radical once upon a time, he painted them in secret. The show is on view through June 7, 2020.
Other tips: Don’t miss the second-floor gift shop, where you can sip samovar tea while browsing books about Russian criminal tattoos, colorful pysanky eggs, and hand-embroidered pillowcases by a local gentleman with Uzbek heritage. For discounted tickets ($5 per person instead of $13), search the Groupon app or website. And follow TMORA on Facebook to get a heads-up on popular events such as intro-to-Russian-language classes and traditional song-and-dance performances by the MN-based Russian folk performance group Nitka.
The Museum of Russian Art
5500 Stevens Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-821-9045.