Krasnoyarsk Krai

Art in the tundra: what to see in Norilsk

A guide to museums in one of the world's most northern cities.

20.07.21 // Norilsk is an unusual city. It is located in the Far North of Russia, in the tundra, above the Arctic Circle. Despite the harsh natural conditions, more than 180,000 people live in Norilsk. There's also a vibrant cultural scene.

Norilsk Museum: the city's calling card

Norilsk Museum is the city's main museum. It is where most tourists start to become acquainted with Norilsk. The Local History Museum is located in the building of the former Lenin Cinema on Lenin Street. The building itself is an architectural landmark. It was built in 1960. There are now about 80,000 exhibits in the museum's storerooms. A large part of the exhibition describes the history of exploration, ethnography, geology and nature of the Taymyr Peninsula.

However, the Norilsk Museum is not just about how people survive in the extreme conditions of the North. A large part of the exposition is dedicated to Norillag (about 2,000 exhibits total). From 1935 to 1955, about 300,000 prisoners worked in the Norilsk Corrective Labour camp, part of the Gulag. People had to work in extremely cold conditions, and many of them died.

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In the Museum of Norilsk periodically pass photo-exhibitions. For example, in July the annual regional photo-exhibition "TaymyrFotoYear-2021" opened. It is the key photo-event in the north of the Krasnoyarsk region. The best works of the authors devoted to the region are included in the exhibition.

Miners and the North: art gallery exhibitions in Norilsk

Those who would like to get a closer look at the visual arts of the region will be interested in visiting Norilsk's art gallery on Talnakhskaya Street. It opened in 1973.

Portraits of miners, genre paintings, northern landscapes, still lifes... There are more than 5 thousand exhibits in the museum giving an idea of the different schools and developmental vectors of fine art in the second half of the 20th century.

Art residence: contemporary art in Norilsk

There is a place in Norilsk where you can come in close contact with contemporary art. Or even become an adept. Even in Norilsk, above the Arctic Circle, there is an actual Art Residence. Its main goal is to design the future of Norilsk, first and foremost, visually.

PolArt (1 Bogdan Khmelnitskogo Street) serves as the venue for annual creative meetings with contemporary artists. Lectures and workshops are also held here, and everyone is welcome to participate.

On the mountain: open-air exhibitions in Norilsk

New cultural venues continue to appear in Norilsk. Thus, in 2020, the special project NA-Gora Museum ('on the mountain' in Russian) was launched. It involves the creation of a museum-environmental trail that connects the centre of Talnakh and the lookout point of the fifth micro-district. The staircase exists today, and from it, you can see the Kharayelakh and Norilsk mountains, Talnakh and Norilsk. However, the path is often referred to as the 'Black Trail', as it is not safe to walk up and down the stairs: it is easy to slip.

After getting renovated, the trail is intended to be a place for exhibitions, stories about the history and nature of the region and comfortable benches to rest on during the warmer months.

The first phase of the project has already been completed. The stairs are now more comfortable to walk up and down, with benches and information boards. Meanwhile, Norilsk Museum invites everyone to join the project and create a new urban landmark together.

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