The new director of the Pushkin Museum Elizaveta Likhacheva: “Only an idiot can make sudden movements”

The new director of the Pushkin Museum Elizaveta Likhacheva: “Only an idiot can make sudden movements”

In the Pushkin Museum, where the director has just changed, there is the usual buzz from the audience. And everything seems to be the same as always – the children make noise on excursions, the installation of a new exhibition, but everything is already different. Marina Loshak, who headed the Pushkin Museum for the last 10 years, left, leaving behind in the director’s office the installation “My room and a half”, created by the namesake of the famous poet (and the author of the essay, to which the reference is here), architect Alexander Brodsky. The new director, Elizaveta Likhacheva, is not yet up to cabinet gatherings. The MK observer caught her on the run – from one fund to another – and found out how the immersion in business was going.

It seems that no one before Marina Loshak left so beautifully. Already the ex-director of the Pushkin Museum turned her office into an author’s installation, which became a kind of afterword. The exhibition “My room and a half” is presented in semi-darkness. At the entrance to the director’s office there is a rack with her stylish hat, in the corner there is a desktop. There is nothing but a table lamp on the green cloth of the wooden table top. A corridor-portal stretches from the table, which leads to another table, which was occupied by Irina Antonova. This is a historical exhibit – the table belonged to the founder of the museum, Ivan Tsvetaev, and since 1961, Irina Antonova led the museum from this office. After she moved to the position of president, the table and the room remained with her, and Marina occupied the neighboring office.

Now the door between them has been removed, instead of it there is a stand through which the viewer can pass and see folders from the archives of the museum and reviews of the main exhibitions that happened during the reign of the last two leaders of the Pushkin Museum – Antonova and Loshak. The countdown goes back to 1954. The “portal” side by side with the legendary exhibitions of Antonova and Loshak – “Jaconda” (as it is written on the archival folder from 1974 – through “a”), “Moscow-Paris” (1976), Marc Chagall (1987), Joseph Beuys (1992) and Facing the Future of Europe (2017). Plus “Picasso & Khokhlova” (2019), the project “There are strange rapprochements …” (2021). The message is clear – the leader should be judged by their deeds.

The afterword will sound like poetic silence until April 2, after which the rooms (specially for the sake of this installation) will be divided again, and Elizaveta Likhacheva will take Tsvetaeva’s table. Only from this Monday, she began to delve into the affairs, and in the near future she will have to go around all the funds, the construction site (the reconstruction of the museum town has been going on for 10 years) and go around the regional branches. Pushkinsky is many times larger than the Shchusev Museum of Architecture. Now it has 900 employees, 29 buildings and 9 branches in different cities of the country.

– In fact, I’m the director for the second day, – says Elizabeth. – While I go to the funds, I look, I am slightly surprised from time to time.

– What, for example?

— The building, which, it seemed to me, was in the best condition. But I can really say something about the Pushkin Museum in three weeks. It is a huge organism with a lot of people. Everyone has different needs that need to be linked into a single system of relations – this is not an easy story. Today I visited several funds – archaeological, old masters, now I will go to the schedule. Pushkinsky is full of masterpieces – they need to be shown.

– That is, the re-exposition on the first floor of the Main Building will be replaced by another one?

— The re-exposition has reduced the number of exhibited items, made it difficult to access the supervision of the items. But before you change this, you need to understand that with the construction of the museum campus – this is the main thing. Yesterday and today I go to the museum, and I will be like this for another three weeks, then I will carefully look at the documents. I didn’t prepare for this. A week before the signing of the contract, the Minister of Culture called me and made an offer to become the director of the Pushkin Museum. I thought for days. I would not agree to leave the Museum of Architecture if I were not sure that I would leave it to my team. This was my condition. Pushkinsky has a complicated history, there are internal conflicts and problems. Any director who enters such a system must act like an open heart surgeon. Only an idiot can make sudden movements.

– The Pushkin Museum is a museum of Western art, and now these ties have been cut off …

– I was born in 1978 – then it was also impossible to simply drive to Paris. I remember that time, it’s the same now. But everything passes, and this will pass. Our task is to save the museum. Russia is part of European civilization. The Pushkin Museum is one of the most complex in composition, the collection is uneven – there are absolute masterpieces, but there are walk-throughs. There is a so-called “special fund”, and the history of trophy art is complex, each item must be considered separately. The Pushkin Museum is great, and not only because it has Monet.

– Will he become Tsvetaevsky, as Irina Antonova once suggested?

This idea was one of the first that came to my mind. I think this should be timed to coincide with the opening of the renovated buildings. What we will definitely do now is to rename the GZ (main building) to the Tsvetaevsky building.

– How many years are you ready to give to Pushkinsky?

Until they get kicked out.

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 28999 dated March 29, 2023

Newspaper headline:
“The Pushkin Museum is great, and not only because it has Monet”


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