• Karakalpak State Art Museum
  • Karakalpak State Art Museum
  • Karakalpak State Art Museum

Located in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, in the far west of Uzbekistan, close to the Aral Sea, this is one of the most extraordinary museums in Uzbekistan, both for the history of its formation and for the quality of its collections. It was established in 1966, largely on the initiative of Igor Savitsky, a Russian painter and art collector. He first visited Karakalpakstan in 1950, as draftsman on a research expedition. He was captivated by the culture and people of Karakalpakstan and remained there almost continuously until his death in 1984. During these years he assembled an unrivalled collections of Karakalpak ethnographic items (costumes, embroideries, jewellery and so on) and archaeological objects. At the same time, he drew on his connections in the art world in Russia and other parts of the Soviet Union to amass a major collection of avant-garde paintings – a style that was very definitely out of favour with the state authorities. However, Savitsky had established bonds of trust and friendship with officials in Karakalpakstan and his acquisitions were largely paid for by IOUs drawn on the Communist Party of Karakalpakstan. He was passionate about art, but had little interest in financial affairs: quite simply, he bought the best available works. When he died, he left many outstanding IOUs which in due course were honoured by the local Communist Party. Unwittingly, it turned out to have been a good investment since the collection is now priceless, recognised as being of major international significance. A few years ago it became the target of a vicious ‘fake news’ campaign when foreign journalists (many of whom had never been to the region) began to publish stories that the collection was in a dangerous state of neglect – to the surprise and dismay of regular visitors and foreign partners engaged in collaborative projects who were able to attest that on the contrary, it was in good condition and well curated. A new wing, with the most modern up-to-date storage and conservation facilities is due to open in late 2017. There are no restrictions on travel to Karakalpakstan so interested visitors are free to make the journey to Nukus to see this unique collection for themselves.

Address: K. Rizaeva Street, Nukus
Website: museum.kr.uz, www.savitskycollection.org


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