Avant-Garde Museology

Artists' Books

Rethinking the role of the museum in Russia and the Soviet Union from the end of the 19th Century to the first third of the 20th Century.

Arseniy Zhilyaev is an artist, curator and theoretician of contemporary art. In his projects he addresses the legacy of Soviet museology as well as how the museum is conceived in Russian cosmism. He is a participant of many exhibitions in Russia and beyond.

The collection “Avant-Garde Museology”, edited by Arseniy Zhilyaev, includes archive documents and texts of the 19th and 20th Centuries dedicated to projects of innovative museums. A lot of material taken from these sources, such as the “Proceedings of the First All-Russian Congress of Museums” or the journal “Soviet Museum” have not been reprinted since.

The anthology is divided into three parts: Russian cosmism, the historical avant-garde and Marxist materialist dialectics. The texts collected in “Avant-Garde Museology” make up a forgotten history of museum studies, anticipating many discoveries of modern art.

“Avant-garde museology” is a paradox built on what would seem to be mutually exclusive foundations. After all, in its most common definition, the avant-garde implies that art goes beyond its institutional framework, most often understood as the Museum itself. It is no accident that most of the artists considered part of the historical avant-garde had a strongly negative attitude towards the museum.