Alexander Sedov: "There's surge in popularity of Moscow and Baku museums"

Alexander Sedov: "There's surge in popularity of Moscow and Baku museums"

This year marks 100th anniversary of founding of the State Museum of Oriental Art - Russia's only cultural center specializing in preservation, study and popularization of the art of from countries and peoples of the East. Director general of the State Museum of Oriental Art, Alexander Sedov, discussed importance of preservation of heritage of Eastern peoples for development of Russian and world culture, as well as relations with Azerbaijani museums in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.

- The inventory book of your museum lists carpet made in Lankaran as the first item. How many Azerbaijani exhibits are there in your museum?

- Several hundred. We have one of the best carpet collections in Russia, in Central Asia, in Caucasus, and Azerbaijani carpets account for a huge part of this collection.

- You have recently returned from Baku. What was the purpose of your trip?

- I attended the conference dedicated to history of the Shirvanshahs. It was very interesting. An excellent exhibition is currently taking place in the Shirvanshahs Palace in Baku, where masterpieces of Azerbaijani art of the Shirvanshahs period from museums of the world - from Turkish museums, from military museum of Istanbul, as well as from regional Azerbaijani museums - are presented.

- It became popular in Russia to attend exhibitions, especially projects of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum. Can you say that there's similar demand for your museum?

- Yes. Vladislav Aleksandrovich Kononov, director of the Museums Department of the Ministry of Culture, says that in just three years, the number of visitors to our museum has grown by almost one and a half times. The surge in popularity of museums in Russia, which can be seen at exhibitions in the Tretyakov Gallery, in the Pushkin Museum, affected us, too. I’m not that arrogant to think that people come to our museum because we organize such interesting exhibitions that they just can't miss them. I think that nowadays people are simply ready to pay much more and devote much more time to visit museums, compared to the past. This is an interesting phenomenon, I don't really know why did it appear.

- Have you noticed, do people of Baku love art like people in Moscow do?

- Of course. Several days ago I visited exceptionally interesting Museum of Carpet. There are a lot of visitors, and not only tourists. In addition, there's an outstanding tourist and museum facility in Azerbaijan - the Old Town. So many people visit the Old Town to admire this masterpiece, masterpiece of old Azerbaijani architecture. Nothing matches this place in the region, I'm sure of it.

- Are there any plans to do joint projects with Azerbaijan?

- Yes, I have an idea to organize exhibition of private collection of Azerbaijani collector in Moscow. Three years ago we organized two exhibitions in Baku. The first - "Japanese Engraving of the Edo Period" - was held in the exhibition hall of the Artists Union. The second was held in the Heydar Aliyev Center, where we presented one of the masterpieces of our collection - "Babur-name" miniatures. Both exhibitions had a great success. But the most important thing is that these were the first exhibitions, organized by museum from Moscow, in a decade and a half. Ties that existed before were cut at some point, and right now we're restoring them. We hope that we will continue to host exhibitions from Azerbaijani museums and send exhibitions from our museum to Azerbaijan. Next year we're planning to organize exhibition of the Baku Carpet Museum.

- Is there an intersection between Russian and Azerbaijani art?

- We're closely connected. For example, a great artist like Tair Salakhov is national heritage of not only Azerbaijan, but also of our native Russian culture. My good friend, one of the favorite Azerbaijani artists Farhad Khalilov studied in Moscow. True, he's a man of the world, but still. Everything is so connected that ties between our cultures are strong not only in high art, but also in traditional art and culture.

- Do you plan to visit Azerbaijan with field expeditions of your museum?

- In order to dig in Azerbaijan, you have to be a specialist in archeology and in Azerbaijani region, but our museum doesn't have people like that yet. If there's going to be a person who knows Azerbaijani archeology, we're ready to participate in such joint projects. But Azerbaijani archaeologists themselves are already great.