I'm not into art galleries at all. But on my final day in Moscow I thought why not go and see some paintings since the collection is massive and has famous portraits of Tolstoi, Dostoevskii, Gogol et al.
I splashed out on a cassette guide and that was a brilliant investment as it made the whole tour of the paintings come to life and put the paintings in context. I ended up staying for a whole afternoon and the gift shop has excellent prints for sale. For those who read the Penguin Russian Literature Classics, many of the covers come from paintings at the Tretiakov and it was cool to see them and find out more about the pictures.
I can't recommend art galleries if you don't like them, but if you are unsure, go and get an audio guide. You look like a prat wearing it, but who cares?
The Tretyakov Gallery is the biggest collection of Russian painting in Moscow. Pavel Tretyakov, a Moscow merchant, founded the gallery. At that time many people collected paintings simply to decorate their own houses, but Tretyakov dreamed of setting up a gallery for public.
On 15 August 1893 Moscow city Gallery proudly opened its doors. Today a whole complex of buildings is one of the world’s largest museums. Now the Tretyakov Gallery holds more than 50,000 works of painting, graphic art and sculpture.
The Tretyakov Gallery --->
The collection of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov was opened to the public in I874 as a private museum and rapidly became very popular.
If you have any interest in Russian art, or even if you don't know much about it but are curious, you will have a spectacular time at the Tretyakov Gallery. In my book this is one of the absolute 'don't miss' places in the entire city. It began a century ago as the collections of two brothers. It has become the best museum of Russian art in the world, especially nineteenth century Russian realist art. The collections are staggering (don't miss the ancient icons), the wonder of it all amazing. Just watch out for the kids. It is a deservedly and understandably famous place for schools to shlep schoolchildren. And they can overwhelm--just like the collections. But I cannot recall having been so enchanted with a museum in a long, long time.
The Tretiakov Gallery contains Moscow's largest collection of Russian art with representative pieces from ancient times through various historical schools up to and including turn-of-the-century Avante Garde works. The newly restored building is worth a visit in itself. Walk in the Zamoskvorechye Area around the Tretiakov Gallery. The Zamoskvorechye area, 'behind the Moscow River', contains some of the oldest churches, remarkable in part for their unique architecture, and in part because they survived Stalin's efforts during the thirties to wipe out all religion.
Yeah, there are several art galleries in Moscow, most famous one is Tretykovka (on the picture), named by Duche Tretyakov family, who owned both house and collection of arts before the 1918. Russian Icons, paintings of Rennesaince, and modern art - everything is there.