Meet our Presenters: Evgeniya Kiseleva
Meet Evgeniya Kiseleva, Head of Interdisciplinary Projects Department, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, who will present as part of the On Demand vs On Request Access panel on Tuesday 16th March 2021.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
Hello, I am Evgeniya Kiseleva, Curator and Head of Interdisciplinary Programmes Department at The Pushkin State Museums of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia. Since 2016, I have been developing the ‘Accessible Museum’ project, which was originally established by the group of the Museum enthusiasts, but is now, in 2021, a project that is supported by a large charitable foundation ‘Absolute-Help’. The ‘Accessible Museum’ project has also been recommended to other Russian museums as an exemplar example of Access and Inclusion by the Ministry of Culture of Russian Federations. Critically, the use of the word ‘Access’ in the name of the project not only represents physical access, but also intellectual access, digital access and informational access, all key elements for ensuring social inclusion.
What organisation do you work with / for?
The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow presents one of the biggest art collections in Russia – around 700.000 art works of different epochs. The most famous part of the collection is impressionist and post-impressionist art from Schukin and Morosovs houses. The Pushkin Museum is located in the historical center of Moscow, not far from the Kremlin. The Museum is spread across several buildings and this complex continues to grow. We expect, in the next 6 years, to have 12 buildings for different collections and activities, for example an Open Depository Building or Old Masters Gallery, Impressionists and Post-Impressionists Collection or House of Rare Books etc.
What access and inclusion provisions, services and programmes are currently in place in your organisation?
Every week, visitors can attend , either in-person or online depending on current pandemic situation in Moscow, audio described art-events in The Pushkin Museum. Sign Language interpreted tours with accredited guides who are deaf as well lectures by art-historians of the Museum with live interpretation also take place in-person or online several times a week. Every Tuesday we provide ASD-friendly tours for teenagers and adults, as well programmes for artists with special educational needs. We have also provided a range of specialist tours specifically for children living in care and assisted learning schools to support talented children. In collaboration with artists, performers and theatre, we create inclusive masterclasses, multisensory-activities and participatory projects, which are available and accessible for everyone. We also run a series of accessible online activities, as well as Facebook and Instagram broadcasting, audio described podcasts etc.
What are you working on at the moment?
In 2020, Russia’s National Centre for Contemporary Arts, in located in eight outposts in cities including Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, and Tomsk, was taken over by The Pushkin Museum. The Pushkin Museum will now the develop and roll out an Access and Inclusion Strategy to all these new outposts across education, exhibitions and visitor experience departments. It is a huge body of work and big challenge for several next years.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
It is not easy to work with so-called outsider art in a very classical art Museum in Russia. I suppose that my greatest accomplishment was the very first ASD-artists exhibition in The Pushkin Museum, which I curated. As museum is currently closed, but exhibition is available on the Google Arts and Culture here. Every artist represented in the exhibition is a ceramist. The exhibition has created a sense of dialog between ceramic masterpieces of ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, and Egypt and that by contemporary artists including Nikolai Filippov, Alyona Trubikhina, Andrei Demin, Andrei Pashkov, and Vladimir Shnirman, as well as collaborative works from the ‘Special Ceramics at VDNKh’ studio and the Mouseion ceramic workshop. Most of the contemporary artworks in the exhibition were created during the first wave of pandemic in March-April 2020. The exhibition opened in October we opened as a means of rethinking isolation and to create personal connection to art-history.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
One great piece of advise I was given by my vis-à-vis at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Cathelijne Denecamp, who said that we need to look to our employees and their relatives first, then we have everyone we need to be inclusive. Because in big museums we have thousands of staff.
And another great piece of advice was from Marina Loshak, a great curator and Museums Director. Her advice was – to cross mental boarders.
What surprises you the most about your job?
It’s definitely people and personalities. The artists, curators, managers and activists with and without disabilities who push forward Access and Inclusion in cultural institutions in Russia and across the world. I’m so happy to work with these highly intelligent and open-minded people.
Where do great ideas come from in your organisation?
As a big museum, we regularly collaborate with scientific research centres, creative groups and festivals, but a lot of our ideas originate in-house, because museum is such a special place. The team are the best reequipped to understand what is possible and what is needed.
Describe an access and inclusion solution or innovation that has inspired you and / or your work.
Autism-friendly programmes by Rebecca McGinnis at the MET, sensory maps at the Smithsonian Institute, tactile exhibitions at Taipei National Arts Museum, Taiwan, these are just some of the great projects, which are made our world more inclusive and accessible.
What is the biggest challenge that faces access and inclusion in arts and culture today?
A big challenge for accessibility is increasing about of information available. You can not do everything, that’s why you always need to choose, what to do what not. It’s very hard.
What has been your access and inclusion highlight to date?
In the Fall 2020, The Pushkin Museum hosted a performance based on the Pieter Bruegel the Elder with performers who are deaf and blind. During several months, these performers attended audio described tours and lectures in the Museum, and they expressed their experience and impressions of the Museum through movement, dance and dialogue in the performance on the stage. Directed by Tufan Imamutdinov and choreographed by Marcel Nouriev, this collaboration is a personal highlight.
What is your access and inclusion goal for the future?
To work more with people on outskirts and outside of Moscow. To support professional development of neurodiverse artists from Russia. To create a collaborative and inclusive environments for artists and curators who need additional support in order to be involved in cultural activity.
An animation by Platoshka Studio inspired by the work of ASD-artists which were recently exhibited at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, 2020.