A Look at Moscow’s Rem Koolhaas–designed Garage Museum

  • An exhibition of photographs from George Kiesewalter.

    An exhibition of photographs from George Kiesewalter.

  • The Rem Koolhaas-designed Garage Museum in Gorky Park.

    The Rem Koolhaas-designed Garage Museum in Gorky Park.

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When it opened in the 1950s, the Vremena Goda public canteen served hundreds of people in one sitting. Today, the Brezhnev-era building in Moscow’s Gorky Park has ditched its proletariat past in favor of contemporary art. Abandoned for 20 years, the 54,000-square-meter structure was purchased by Russian businesswoman and gallerist Dasha Zhukova and transformed by Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA into a polycarbonate-clad space for her Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, founded in 2008 and named after its original home, a 1920s avant-garde bus depot across town. The museum’s new digs retain elements of its past: original Soviet mosaics have been preserved, and decorative tiles were kept intact. But Koolhaas hasn’t shied away from reinventing the box-like concrete space, adding the dramatic translucent plastic skin as well as two vertical sliding doors that rise seven meters above roof level when fully opened. And by the end of September, a red metal staircase will provide access to a roof terrace. Five exhibition galleries showcase Zhukova’s archive of national contemporary art from the 1950s to the present day, including a piece by Taryn Simon that involves turning liquid radioactive waste into crystallized black glass, and photographs by George Kiesewalter of Moscow’s underground art scene in the 1970s and ’80s (7-495/645-0520). —Natasha Dragun

This article originally appeared in the August/September print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Park Place”)

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