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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Museums Open Doors to All This Saturday Night

WinzavodPeople mingling around Winzavod at last year's Museum Night. Huge crowds are expected to attend on Saturday.
No plans for Saturday? Then head to the third annual Museum Night, set to encompass well over a hundred museums, exhibition spaces and private galleries across the whole of Moscow. Starting from their usual closing time, the doors will be thrown open to the public, with everything from Italian Renaissance masterpieces of yesteryear to the scientific advances of tomorrow open for late-night perusal -- in many cases until 2 a.m.

"Every museum in New York has some kind of dancing or concert at least once a week," said Alexandrina Markvo, director of the Buro 17 group that managed last year's separate Gallery Night, at a press conference Wednesday. "Why can't we do that here? The museum of the future should run round the clock -- a house not just for culture but education as well."

Anyone intimidated by the smorgasbord will, the organizers attest, find navigating it easy with information stands and pocket guides distributed at every stopping point; free shuttle buses between the main ones among them are set to eliminate transportation headaches even after the metro closes. And barring the Winzavod complex, entry is free everywhere for all.

With over 450,000 visitors last year in mind, a large range of participants has one-off events specially prepared. Those who find contemporary art too staid, for instance, can enjoy its more spontaneous side through performance. As well as lectures from artists Kirill Daneliya, Claudia Rogge and Andrei Dillendorf, MMOMA is home to no fewer than three, including one from the Only Brothers group that promises to create new artworks before your very eyes inspired by works from the museum's collection.

On the odder side, Art Strelka hosts two performances, both with untranslatable punning titles on dreams and chickens, respectively. Baibakov Art Projects next door is withholding all information about the multimedia activities in its parking lot until they begin.And Solyanka nightclub continues its recent forays into the art world with a performance called "Freeing the Hostages," in whose numbers the organizers threaten to include visitors.

More sedate entertainment can be found in the form of orchestral concerts on the other side of the river. Students from the Moscow Conservatory School will set the Titian portrait currently on loan at the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum to music and dance from the period, while the nearby museum of Pushkin himself will stay open later for Viennese and Russian classical music. Elsewhere, the Glinka Museum's permanent collection of musical instruments will compete for your ears with folk, choral, jazz and tango performances, and the Oriental Museum will feature "ethnic" music and Indian dancing in a makeshift oriental bazaar. Even the museum in the village of Sholokhovo dedicated to the T-34 tank's "immortal glory" promises a "literary and musical composition" called "Bivouacking with the Tank Drivers," followed by a celebratory salute.

Moscow wouldn't be Moscow, after all, without strange men dressed up as famous Russian literary and historical figures, and on this count Museum Night does not disappoint. "War and Peace" fans can imagine Pierre Bezukhov stumbling through the battle of Borodino during one of the three re-enactments on Kutuzovsky Prospekt. At the Bulgakov House, those who prefer "The Master and Margarita" can join nighttime tours past sites made famous in the novel, with promised "appearances" from its characters and even the apricot soda with which the novel begins. The Mayakovsky Museum in particular is going appropriately full-out with solo reincarnations of Vladimir Mayakovsky's "A Cloud in Trousers" and Alexander Blok's "The Twelve," sandwiched between musical settings of the former's poems, a "musical and poetical play" and midnight readings by modern poets.

Movie screenings are just as numerous as the performances and concerts. Again, these cater for all imaginable tastes, including a documentary about Sculpture Park shown among the statues there, films about Alexander Scryabin in the museum that bears his name, outdoor video art everywhere from Winzavod (also hosting music and theater in addition to its numerous gallery shows) to the Architecture Museum, and Andrei Tarkovsky's classic "Solaris" at Laboratoria. Even those with more specialized preferences will not go home empty-handed, whether they take master classes at the Museum of Culinary Arts, launch from the Soviet space simulator at the new Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, walk through a simulated tropical rainforest at the Biological Museum or plump for real prison-camp survivors reciting poetry at the GULAG Museum.

There is, in short, something for practically everyone, and with huge crowds expected again, it's easy to imagine such a large-scale event going awry. But from last year's experience, city Duma deputy Yevgeny Bunimovich was unconditionally positive. "I saw a different youth, a different Moscow," he said. "There was a huge crowd of young people, but that didn't scare me!" Let's only hope that the famously curmudgeon old ladies who guard Moscow's museums feel the same way. Even if it is past their bedtime.

Museum Night runs Saturday, May 16 at more than a hundred spaces across Moscow: times vary, free entry. Details available from