Symposium: Collecting Art in Former Socialist Countries
Eastern European Collectors, EEC (*)

Thursday, July 19th, 7pm
Novy Museum, St. Petersburg
29 Vasilyevsky island


Gabor Ebli: Art Collecting in Hungary

Hans Knoll and Olga Temnikova: Art Collections in the Baltic Countries and Central Europe

Olesya Turkina (Russian Museum) and Dimitry Ozerkov (Hermitage Museum): Institutional Collections

Sergei Popov (Novy Museum; Popov Gallery Moscow): Art Collection of the Novy Museum; Art Collecting in Russia

Collectors are able to play an important and active role in the art communities: prospecting for the traces of the contemporary in art, they are becoming supporters and partners of the artists, galleries, and art institutions, and they are convincing role models for their surrounding by their vouching for art. Collecting (contemporary) art is often connected with interesting and important processes in the societies, it can play an important role in nation-building. Collecting is mirroring the intellectual activities of a society; the style and the numbers of collections of a society are displaying its sociological structure and its wealth, and, very important, its position and connections in the international economical exchange. But art and its collections have high importance for the local society itself, too. Art and art collections are indicators for the democratic levels of a society, they can play an active part in integrating minorities or imigrants, they are showing the level of internationalization of a community, and, finally, they are important for education.

More than 20 years after the change, collecting art is still not very widespread in the eastern European countries. Both the public museums and the private collections are not much connected to art of our time, especially not to international contemporary art. The museums are suffering of lack of budgets, and, with very few exceptional cases, most of the public collections in the former socialist countries are not connected to contemporary art at all. Few private collections have started already in the 90s, they have become more after 2000, though not all publicly known. Most of these collections have started with their local contemporary art, sometimes growing up from collections of old or ancient art, and few, again, have become internationally orientated.

The symposium wants to put attention to the mentioned topics. Gabor Ebli, one of the authors in the EEC project, will report of his research about collecting art in Hungary. Hans Knoll and Olga Temnikova are speaking about their experiences in connection with art collections in the Baltic countries and in central Europe. Olesya Turkina (Russian Museum) and Dimitry Ozerkov (Hermitage) are informing about the collections in their institutions and the aims of their collections. Sergei Popov, curator at Novy Museum and gallery-owner in Moscow, will contribute informations about the collection of Novy Museum. In the second part of the symposium all together will discuss the situation and tasks of collecting contemporary art.

Initiated by: Hans Knoll, Knoll Gallery Vienna
Organized by: Alex Karpova
Moderation: Olya Bukina

(*) Hans Knoll, gallery-owner in Vienna and Budapest, has initiated the project Eastern European Collectors, EEC, for which he and his partners are doing research about collecting art in the former socialist countries. Up till now the first research results about the countries Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania are published on the website:

The project is supported by departure - the creative agency of the city of Vienna: