Where To Go In Moscow: 12 Accessible Museums You Might Not Have Heard Of

Audio description: a colored photo. Five persons in black clothes are walking up the grand marble staircase of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. On both sides it is flanked by brown marble columns. The staircase leads to high copper doors with intricate ornaments. To the left and to the right of the doors, there are impressive candelabra – statues of angels holding candles.

The number of museums with exhibitions adapted for visually disabled guests is constantly growing. Sightless and visually impaired persons are visiting Moscow’s exhibition areas in guided tour groups or individually. They can study the display thanks to tactile copies of the exhibits and detailed audio guides.

In this article, we are talking about Moscow museums that are ready to welcome visually challenged guests.

A. S. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Audio description: a colored photo. It depicts the main building of A. S. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts against cloudless blue sky. It is a white marble neoclassic building. In the central part of the facade, a protruding row of six columns is topped by an attic. Two symmetrical wings with columns and glass roofs spread from it sideways. The name of the museum is written in golden letters under the attic.

The museum collection comprises paintings, sculptures, drawings, pieces of applied art, gypsum copies of Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance works.

Within the framework of the museum’s key exhibitions, sightless and visually challenged visitors are invited to study tactile copies of the exhibits, take part in educational programs and topical workshops. Tactile models are provided with information plates in Braille.

At the moment, the museum offers a general tour around its halls and holds the following lectures: Sergey Shchukin Collection, Life And Creative Works Of Pablo Picasso, Evangelic Motives in Dutch and Flemish Art in XVII Century, Still Life: A World On a Table, Touching The Classical Antiquity, His Majesty The Chair, Paper By Tactile Perception, Japanese Articles Of Daily Use.

To sign in for a guided tour or a lecture, dial the following number: +7(985)863-39-84, or send an email to museum4all@arts-museum.ru.

The address of the museum is 12 Volkhonka St.

Garage Contemporary Art Museum

Audio description: a colored photo. An autumn day. White clouds are sailing in the blue sky above The Garagecontemporary art museum. It is a long rectangular building. The ground floor has floor-to-ceiling windows; the facade is covered with semitransparent grey panels. A square panel above the entrance to the museum is moved up to reveal a glass wall. Art objects are installed in the square in front of the museum. Among them, there is a black metal structure resembling two birds flying away from one another.

The museum displays works of the leading contemporary artists and shows contemporary Russian art in the international art context. The Garage explores new methods of working with visitors and gives maximum attention to exhibitions engaging their guests in creative interactive process, and also to the projects researching the most poorly studied aspects of Russian art.

At the moment, the museum doesn’t organize exhibitions, but persons with visual impairments may join a guided tour to the People’s Commissariat Of Finances Building and take part in sound walks around Gorky Park and the museum space together with Sync Sisters team. Visit museum website to check the current schedule of events.

Moreover, a library was organized in the museum space, one can visit it freely. The cafe in the museum building is still functioning. Cafe menu can be scanned and read out using screen reader apps.

At the moment, tactile models of the exhibits are stored in the museum archive and are available at request (send an email or dial the number specified below).

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7 (929) 618 39 47, or send an email to openmuseum@garagemca.org.

Museum address: 9 Krymsky Val St. bldg. 32

State Tretyakov Gallery

Audio description: a colored photo. The main facade of State Tretyakov Gallery built in Old Russian style of white andred brick is photographed on a bright cloudless day. In front of the entrance, there is a granite monument to Pavel Tretyakov. The great patron of arts is shown standing, wearing a long coat. The monument seems to be growing out of stone. Tretyakov’s face is narrow and long, his hair is short, he has a thick beard and long mustaches. He crosses his arms, deep in thought. Visitors are crowding by the doors to the gallery.

Tretyakov Gallery displays about 200,000 pieces of art. Its historic building is dedicated to the exhibition of Russian art from XII through early ХХ cent. The exhibition occupies 62 halls on two floors. It is arranged according to chronological periods and helps visitors grasp the way the national artistic tradition was developing.

Accessibility and inclusion department is planning routes suitable for sightless and visually challenged guests and equipped with tactile models and audio descriptions. But in the coming year, as Tretyakov Gallery employees say, the accessibility department will focus on adapting the permanent display.

Adapted guided tours using tactile models of the exhibits are regularly held in Apollinary Vasnetsov Museum, which forms part of the Tretyakov Gallery museum complex.

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7(905)7596207, or send an email to access@tretyakov.ru.

The address of the main building of Tretyakov Gallery: 10 Lavrushinsky Lane.

A. M. Vasnetsov memorial museum apartment address: 6 Furmanny Lane, apt. 21.

Pavel and Sergey Tretyakovs Museum

Audio description: a colored photo. An exhibition hall at Pavel and Sergey Tretyakovs Museum. The room is decorated in classic style, with pale wallpaper and white stoves in corners. A massive wooden writing desk on carved legs is placed in the center of the display. It is flanked by busts on high bases. Paintings in carved frames hang on the walls to the right and in the center. The left wall is occupied by icons in a white carved case.

Pavel and Sergey Tretyakovs museum, the new exhibition area of Tretyakov Gallery, also has tactile models in its permanent display.

The museum is dedicated to Tretyakov Brothers, Pavel and Sergey. It recounts the story of their life and philanthropy, of Tretyakov family and its strong connection to Moscow, and the history of Tretyakov Gallery itself.

Follow the link to learn about arranging an unguided visit to the museum.

The address of the museum is 16, 1st Golutvinsky Lane, bldg. 1.

Jewish Museum And Tolerance Center

Audio description: a colored photo. A red brick building forming part of former bus garage. The facade has four brick protrusions, with full glazing between them. Each of the protrusions has a high rectangular gateway which used to let motor vehicles in. At present, there are white metal gates in these apertures, all of them closed. There sign over the second is written in dark 3D letters which read Jewish Museum And Tolerance Center. The square in front of the building is paved with stone.

The museum’s main display is dedicated to history, culture and religious traditions of Jewish communities in Russia. The exhibition area is interactive and invites visitors to immerse into the historical context. The permanent display is provided with six tactile models and albums of tactile drawings.

Areas for temporary displays host various exhibition projects, from fine art exhibitions to installations. Many temporary exhibitions are supplemented with tactile models and adapted guided tours.

From October 20, 2022, till February 19, 2023, the museum houses a new exhibition The World As Non-objectivity. The Birth Of The New Art: Kasimir Malevich, Pavel Filonov, Marc Chagall, Anna Leporskaya and others. The display tells the guests about the bright period in life and art of Kasimir Malevich and his apprentices. For this exhibition, adapted guided tours were prepared for the sightless and visually impaired. The tour includes audio description and tactile models for 10 most significant Avant-garde pieces of art.

The museum organizes special programs and events dedicated to accessibility.

To notify the museum about your planned visit and sign in for a guided tour for the visually impaired, please dial +7 (903) 2120414.

Museum address: 11 Obraztsova St., bldg. 1A.

Cryptology Museum

Audio description: a colored photo. The photo shows an exhibition hall at the Cryptology Museum. Its walls and floor are grey, and the ceiling is black. In the center of the hall, there is a circular glass case with exhibits. The base of the case is made of metal pipes. Four grey glass cases are lining the wall. Behind the glass, there are typewriters and encryption devices. Further down the hall, there is a short staircase leading into a circular passage illuminated by blue light.

This is Russia’s first and only science and technology museum dedicated to cryptology. With its unique collection of encryption devices and state-of-the-art multimedia, the museum tells its visitors about the technology of communication in secret, about people and inventions connected with the science of cryptology.

The Cryptology Museum tactile objects collection comprises more than 50 items, including authentic historical objects like a telegraph key or a radio receiving set, and also custom-made tactile objects, for instance, interactive copies of Enigma and Violet encryption devices. Simulators for Caesar’s disk, the Aeneas disk, and the Polybius square encryption devices are provided with a description and instructions in Braille. Tactile items are mostly arranged in permanent exhibition halls and available for individual viewing.

All the tactile objects of the collection are supplemented with audio descriptions which are also used for regular adapted guided tours. Such tours with audio description and tactile exhibits are organized several times a month.

Visitors may also use audio modes of interactive multimedia installations. Starting with 2023, guests will be provided with special audio guides around the museum.

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7 (925) 0277045.

The address of the museum is 25 Botanicheskaya St., bldg. 4

Moscow Academic Art Theater Museum

Audio description: a colored photo. It shows a part of a grey building in Art Nouveau style. This is Moscow Academic Art Theater Museum. Its ground and second floors have grand bay and rectangular windows. Colorful poster boards hang between the windows. A big bright sign is fixed upon a ground floor window: a red rectangle with blue schematic image of an eye with eyelashes. Below the image, the sign reads Ticket Offices.

The museum collection tops 300,000 exhibits, including documents related to the history of founding and functioning of Chekhov Moscow Academic Art Theater (MKhAT): mockups, paintings, drawings, costumes, bills, items that once belonged to its actors, and other valuable theater objects. Specially for the sightless and visually challenged visitors, the museum regularly holds guided tours around its permanent display called Touch The Theater. The guide tells the museum’s visually impaired guests the history of theater’s establishing and interesting facts about its founders, K.S. Stanislavsky and V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko, demonstrates costumes for its first performance, Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich, and introduces the audience to the job of costumer.

During the program, the guests learn about the first night of The Seagull, the creator of the famous MKhAT emblem, the peculiarities of preparing scenery for a performance, and the special equipment used for the main stage of the theater today.

The tour guide demonstrates tactile copies of selected artists’ works, a tactile copy of the theater’s stage, an album with fabric samples for the costumes and audio records of scenes from performances.

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7 (917) 584 35 90

The address of the museum is 3A Kamergersky Lane, bldg. 2.

Moscow Zoo

Audio description: a colored photo. A bright summer day. Behind a crossroads, there is the main entrance to Moscow Zoo. It looks like a rock with two yellow towers on the sides and an arched passageway in the center.

Moscow Zoo is one of the oldest zoological gardens in Europe. More than 10,000 birds and animals live here. The guests of the zoo have the opportunity to see white and brown bears, ostriches, pink flamingos, seals and pandas, monkeys and lizards and many other representatives of the planet’s fauna.

The zoo organizes special guided tours for the sightless and visually impaired guests, giving them a chance to touch mock-ups of the animals, pieces of their fur, and even stroke some of the residents of the petting farm. The guide gives detailed descriptions of the animals to visually impaired visitors, tells them about the animals’ habits. Zoo employees give art therapy classes to sightless and visually challenged children.

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7(499)2555763, or send an email to lektorzoo1864@gmail.com.

Moscow Zoo address: 1, Malaya Gruzinskaya St.

Moscow Lights Museum

Audio description: a colored photo. A sunny winter day. A two-storied white-stone building erected in late XVII century stands beneath the cloudless blue sky. Today this building is the home of Moscow Lights museum. Three lampposts of different shapes and heights are installed in front of the entrance.

The museum displays different sources of light: a cresset, oil lamps, modern electric lamps, old lanterns (burning oil, kerosene or gas). Visually challenged visitors are allowed to touch many of the exhibits. At the administrator’s desk by the entrance to the museum, visually impaired guests may lend a magnifying glass and a pocket flash light to shine some extra light upon the exhibits.

Museum employees kindly ask visually challenged guests to notify them about their planned visit in advance. To do this, dial +7 (495) 6247374 or send an email to moscowlights@mail.ru.

The address of the museum is 3-5 Armyansky Lane, bldg. 1.

The Museum of Russian Impressionism

Audio description: a rectangular horizontally oriented landscape by Arnold Lakhovsky entitled Winter. Megeve. This winter study was painted in bold strokes of thick oil paint. Sun is shining through heavy cumulus clouds, spilling its rays upon snow-covered earth and casting blue and lavender shadows upon snowdrifts. In the distance, a frozen stream reflects silvery lights. Thin trees with bare branches grow alongside it. Far away, Russian wooden houses can be seen.

The permanent display of the museum is formed mostly of paintings by Konstantin Korovin, Valentin Serov, Stanislav Zhukovsky, Igor Grabar, Konstantin Yuon, Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky and other prominent Russian Impressionists.

The museum offers its sightless and visually impaired guests organized guided tours around the permanent display. The program informs the guests about the birth of the Impressionism in France and in Russia, explains why it is deemed to be the most positive genre in the whole history of fine art, and how technical progress influenced the artists. Moreover, the tour guide dwells upon the architecture and the history of The Museum of Russian Impressionism.

The tour is supplemented with tactile models and also aromas that help sightless visitors understand the narrative of the paintings. After the guided tour, a creative workshop may be organized for the visually challenged guests. During the workshop they are going to experiment with different art materials and create abstract works.

Moreover, guided tours are also held for the sightless and visually challenged visitors around the museum’s temporary exhibitions.

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7(495)1457556, ext. 5505, or send an email to pedagog@rusimp.org.

The address of the museum is 15 Leningradsky Ave., bldg. 11

K.A. Timiryazev State Biology Museum

Audio description: a bright summer day. The picture shows a two-storied manor built of white and red brick and surrounded by tall green trees. The manor is designed in Neorussian architectural style and resembles a fairy-tale housewith various brick decorations, plasterwork, turrets, tiled tent roofs.

Timiryazev museum display is dedicated to the principal subdisciplines of biology, paleontology and botany. The display shows animalistic paintings, sculptural anthropological reconstructions, dioramas, biogroups, seashells and modeled mushrooms. Whole museum halls are dedicated to the kingdom of plants and the mysterious world of human body.

Museum holdings include more than 90,000 exhibits, and some of them are touchable: for example, a fragment of a petrified tree, saw cuts of today’s trees, an ancient coral or an ammonite, houseplants. Moreover, many exhibits have information plates in Braille.

Adapted museum tours are held for organized groups of sightless and visually impaired schoolchildren and adults. The topics are listed below:

Surprising Facts About the World OF Plants, Plants in The Service of Mankind, Mushrooms, Human Parasites, The Mysteries of The Forest (paw prints of forest animals), The Mysteries Of The Sea, Life In The Stone Age, What Can Bones Tell?

Museum tours for visually impaired guests are provided with tactile items and their audio descriptions.

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7(499)2523681, or send an email to mass@gmbt.ru.

Museum address: 15, Malaya Gruzinskaya St.

A.V. Shchusev Museum of Architecture

Audio description: a colored photo. Dawn over one of the central Moscow streets leading to the Kremlin. To the right of the road, there is the Alexander F. Talyzin manor built in classic style. At present, this is the home of A.V. Shchusev Museum of Architecture. It is a long grey 3-storied building with rows of narrow rectangular windows. In its central part there is a low-relief portico with six pilasters. The capitels and the frontpiece have discreet plasterwork ornaments.

The museum’s holdings contain above a million items reflecting the millennium of Russia’s architectural history. Its display includes a collection of architectural drawings, mockups, photographs and samples of construction materials, sculptures, fabrics, furniture and paintings. In September 2020, the museum presented its new permanent display, Kalyazin: The Frescoes Of The Submerged Monastery dedicated to the results of many years of studying and preserving unique frescoes collection that had been partially salvaged in 1940 from the submerged St. Makariy’s Trinity monastery in Kalyazin and was stored in museum holdings for many long years.

The display tells both about the history of the ruined monastery and the stages of salvaging and restoring its unique murals.

For the sightless and visually impaired visitors, the museum offers guided tours around the Kalyazin: The Frescoes Of The Submerged Monastery display, using tactile copies of the exhibits.

Within the framework of the inclusion program for the permanent display, visually challenged guests have the opportunity to study the tactile model of Talyzins-Ustinovs manor where the museum is situated, and some of the sculptures from its collection. In the Kalyazin frescoes exhibition zone, tactile copies of key murals and the panorama of the destroyed monastery are available for the sightless and visually impaired guests.

To sign in for a guided tour, dial +7(495)6900551, or send an email to 6900551@muar.ru.

Museum address: 5/25 Vozdvizhenka St., bldg 1.

Learn about other museums accessible for visually impaired persons in the events section of the Special View portal.

This article was compiled using the information from the museums’ websites and their employees comments.