Main Building

Opening hours   Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: 11 AM to 8 PM
Ticket office: 11 AM to 7 PM (last tickets sold at 7 p.m.)
    Thursday, Friday: 11 AM to 9 PM
Ticket office: 11 AM to 8 PM (last tickets sold at 8 p.m.)
Closed   Monday
Answerphone   +7 (495) 697-79-98 (Russian only)
Additional information   +7 (495) 697-95-78 (Russian only)
Excursion office   +7 (495) 697-74-15 (Russian only)
Address   Moscow, Russia, Volkhonka 12
Nearest metro stations   Metro Stations Kropotkinskaya, Borovitskaya, Lenin Library

Entrance fee

Combined tickets*:

  • Main building, 19th and 20th century European and American Art Gallery: 600 rubles / 400 rubles reduced fee

*valid for the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions (except those to wich tickets should be purchased separately), tickets are valid for 2 days.

The Art of Ancient EgyptThe Art of the Ancient Near EastAncient Troy and SchliemannAntique Art. Cyprus, Ancient Greece, Etruria and Ancient RomeThe Art of the Northern Black Sea RegionHellenistic and Roman Egypt, Coptic ArtByzantine Art. Italian Art of the 13th to 16th centuriesThe Art of Germany and the Netherlands. 15th-16th centuriesThe Art of Flanders. 17th centuryRembrandt and his SchoolDutch Art of the 17th centuryThe Greek CourtyardThe Italian Courtyard

Most of the ground floor contains original works of art. Here you will find the rooms of Ancient Egypt, ancient civilizations, antique originals, the collection of European painting from thirteenth to eighteenth century, and also two rooms of plaster casts, the Greek and Italian cortyards.

Room 4. Antique Art. Cyprus, Ancient Greece, Etruria and Ancient Rome

The collection of objects in the Museum's Department of Classical Antiquity is one of the most important. It covers the period from the end of the III millennium to the beginning of the 4th century AD. The four sections of this display contain extremely interesting and typical objects from the main Mediterranean regions and centres of the Classical period.

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The first section is devoted to the art of Ancient Cyprus – an island at the crossroads of maritime and trade routes in the Eastern Mediterranean (showcases №№ 12-14). The traditions and features of the most various cultures are reflected in these exhibits. The earliest items are hand-moulded red polished vessels dating from the late-III and early-II millennium BC and also the small heads of idols and a figurine of a goddess from the Mycenaean period wearing earrings in the form of double hoops (13th century BC). The showcases also contains an extensive collection of terracotta figurines usually depicting a deity. Among these a figurine of a goddess with the head of a she-bear (7th century BC) is the most remarkable and also two plates on each of which there is a figure of a standing goddess (late-7th or early-6th century BC). There are numerous heads which previously belonged to statues depicting men, women and warriors: their facial features – eyes, lips – are often coloured and also details of their head-dress or hair-do. Among the pottery vessels the most popular were amphorae and jugs and in the painted decoration on these geometric motifs predominate: stripes and concentric circles worked in black and red paint. The only example of monumental sculpture of the Classical period from Cyprus is the remarkable head of a bearded deity dating from the beginning of the 5th century BC (pedestal).

The second section is devoted to the art of Ancient Greece. The collection of painted pottery is particularly wide-ranging, from the earliest specimens – Mycenaean vessels of the 14th and 13th century BC with modest decoration in which linear motifs predominate (showcase №1) – to red-figure vases of the 4th century BC from Attica and Southern Italy, decorated with multi-figure compositions often illustrating mythological subjects (showcases №№ 4-9, 19-21).

Each of the Ancient Greek vessels had had a specific function: amphorae, stamnoi and pelikai were used for wine and water, which pour into hydriai from springs. Wine was mixed with water in krateres and dinoi (the Greeks did not drink pure wine, regarding that as a custom of barbarians) and then poured it out with a scoop or kyathos into drinking cups – kylikes, skyphoi, kantharoi or rhyta. Aryballoi and alabastra were used by athletes to take oil to the palestra (wrestling school) and by women to keep fragrances in. Jewellery was kept in pyxides and lekanides. Lekythoi containing aromatic oils were placed around the biers of the deceased or were brought to the graveside. In the geometric period (9th-8th century BC) amphorae and krateres could be used as funerary monuments. It is possible that the krater from the island of Melos had at one time been used for this purpose (pedestal). Special vessels – so-called three-legged cauldrons made of bronze were dedicated in shrines and used as awards for athletes, who had won competitions. Fragments of feet, a ring-shaped handle and a protome (upper part of a figure) with griffins and sirens came from three-footed cauldrons of this kind (showcase №1).

Pottery of the Geometric (9th-8th century BC) and the Orientalizing (i.e. imitating eastern styles, from the Latin orientalis – eastern) styles is represented by vessels from various Mediterranean centres – a krater bearing a heraldic depiction of birds from Argos, bowls bearing flying birds from Boeotia (showcase № 2). Typical of Corinth are the small vases such as the aryballos with Heracles and a lion and the pyxis with a frieze of animals (showcase № 3). There is a splendid dinos with a depiction of a sphinx painted in a Rhodian workshop and a hydria bearing sirens and cocks made in Klazomenai in Asia Minor (showcase № 2). This gallery contains, apart from vessels, one of the few examples of small sculpture from the 6th century BC – a bronze figurine of a youth (or kouros) holding a pomegranate; the figurine is dedicated to Apollo (Ionia) (showcase № 2).

At the beginning of the 6th century BC Athens became the leading political and cultural centre in the Mediterranean. Black-figure vase-painting (painting in black glaze on the reddish surface of the vessel – the details would be scratched on and sometimes picked out in added crimson or white paint) – emerged there and reached its peak by the middle of that century. Among the finest vessels in this style are a krater fragment with Perseus, the lid of an amphora bearing a battle scene (both in showcase № 4) and an amphora with Heracles and Cerberus (pedestal). At the end of the 6th century BC the black-figure style gave way to the red-figure one, which endured until the end of the 4th century BC. By this stage figures retained the reddish colour of the clay, while their details were worked in black 'glaze', which was also used to fill in the background around the depictions. In the second half of the 5th century BC, alongside red-figure vases, so-called white-ground lekythoi became widespread specially designed for burials and their decoration was worked in both glaze and paints (blue, green, pink) on a white background: more often than not it would depict scenes at a tomb (showcase № 6). The finest red-figure vases in this collection date from the second quarter or middle of the 5th century BC and include a krater by the Villa Giulia painter with Hermes and the infant Dionysos (showcase № 8) and an amphora with Eos in a chariot – the only vase in the Museum's collection signed by the painter: "Polygnotos painted [this]" (showcase № 7). In most cases the names of the painters remained unknown and scholars give them arbitrary names: the "Chiusi Painter" (reference to the find-spot of one of his vessels), the "Lykurgos Painter" (reference to the name of a figure depicted), the "Straggly Painter" (reference to a typical detail of the drawing) and so on. This pottery display also includes a range of terracottas – small figurines cast in clay using special moulds, then fired and painted. They became particularly widespread in the Hellenistic period (late-4th to 1st century BC) and are sometimes also known as "Tanagra figurines" since they were first found in the town of Tanagra (Boeotia) (showcases №№ 9 - 10). More often than not these are figurines of girls standing or sitting in various poses, wearing tunics and cloaks hanging in beautiful folds and holding a variety of different objects. Figurines of youths, children and also deities are encountered and particularly popular among these are figurines of Aphrodite with Eros. Terracotta figurines are found in large numbers in shrines and also in burials that reflects their religious significance.

The Museum's collection of Greek sculpture is not large, but it contains a number of works which are among the finest examples of Classical sculpture. The earliest of these is the figurine of a youth, the so-called Apollo of Naukratis (a Greek colony in Egypt), which dates from the second quarter of the 6th century BC. This work combines a Greek type of statue – a kouros – with a rigid pose and material typical of Egypt, namely semi-transparent alabaster (showcase № 13). A Roman copy of a herm depicting a bearded god – possibly Hermes – provides us with an idea of Greek sculpture from the 5th century BC (pedestal). An example of a Classical stele erected over a tomb is the fine tombstone of an Athenian horseman of the 370s BC distinguished by its austere style (wall). Sculpture from the Hellenistic period is represented by a splendid head of a goddess, made in the sculpture workshops of Alexandria (3rd century BC) and also by small heads and torsos – mainly of Aphrodite – reproducing famous statues of the goddess dating from the 4th century BC (showcase № 11).

The third section of this Gallery acquaints visitors with the art of Ancient Italy, which at the beginning of the I millennium BC was inhabited by numerous different peoples – Latins, Umbrians, Oscans, Peucetians and others. A special place among them belongs to Etruscans, whose culture reached its heyday in the 7th-6th centuries BC and exerted a major influence on the culture and art of Ancient Rome. The earliest Etruscan exhibits are of impasto pottery (8th-7th centuries BC) which later gave way to buchero pottery (7th-6th centuries BC) with its distinctive black surface (showcase № 15). Painted pottery from Etruria is represented by several vases, among which stand out a black-figure krater with sphinxes (showcase № 15) and several vessels which are rare for this Museum's collection decorated in red-figure (showcase № 16). Antefixes, i.e. decorative plates bearing figured depictions of mythological creatures, more often than not it is the Gorgon Medusa, once decorated the roof of an Etruscan temple and at the same time served as apotropaioi, protecting the temple against hostile forces (showcase № 15). The material especially beloved by Etruscan craftsmen was bronze, which they succeeded in working with exceptional skill. Examples of their workmanship are provided by miniature figurines of warriors, decorative attachment plates used to embellish vessel handles (showcase № 16), an exquisite bronze figurine of a youthful warrior (4th century BC) and also mirrors decorated with engraving (showcase № 17).

The cultures of other peoples from Italy are represented by a number of further works. These include vases from Apulian Peucetia and Daunia and terracotta figurines from Sicily (showcase № 19). A special place should be accorded to the painted pottery of Magna Graecia – the Greek colonies which began to appear in the 8th century BC in Southern Italy. In the second half of the 5th century BC workshops appeared for the production of red-figure pottery, the largest of which were located in Apulia and these soon became highly successful. Pottery vessels from Southern Italy are diverse with regard to their shapes – sometimes extremely fanciful (e.g. the small jug or epichysis), their dimensions (from miniature pixides and lekythoi to monumental amphorae and pelikai) and the nature of the painted decoration used (wide use was made of added colour – white or yellowish and sometimes red, blue or green). All the vessels were made for burials and this was reflected in the subjects used for their decoration. The large vessels were decorated with complex multi-figure compositions drawn from mythology or depicting graveside scenes (showcase № 20), the small ones might bear the depiction of a female head or the figure of Eros (showcase № 21).

Pottery from Apulian Canosa is also associated with funerary rites: it is distinguished by simple shapes and decorated with masks of a Gorgon in relief or by terracotta figurines of mourners arranged on handle plates or lids (showcase № 24). These include two large figures of female mourners found in one of the tombs of the Canosa necropolis (showcase № 22).

The fourth final section of this Gallery is dedicated to the art of Ancient Rome. For the first time pride of place has been accorded to works of decorative and applied art, to vessels made of glass and pottery, mosaics and fragments of frescos, to decorative reliefs and bronze utensils – to all those objects which would have proved practical and beautiful in the everyday life of the Romans (showcases № 26-27).

The only example of a monumental statue is the statue of a togatus – a man wearing a toga – whose head has unfortunately been lost (pedestal). Statues of this kind were widespread in the 1st century AD.

The Roman portraits in this collection are among the finest known to us. An example of so-called Augustan Classicism is provided by the portrait of a youth (early-1st century AD) (pedestal) in which a certain degree of generalized idealization goes hand in hand with individualized traits and a gentle rendering of the facial features. A portrait of Emperor Trajan (pedestal) (early-2nd century AD), on the other hand, stands out thanks to its clear lines and well-defined detail. In a portrait of a bearded man (third quarter of the 2nd century AD) (pedestal) features of the so-called Antonine period come distinctly to the fore – such as an inspired gaze despite half-closed eyelids and the gentle modelling of the polished surface of the face contrasts with the rich play of light and shade in the treatment of the hair achieved by deep cuts of a drill. The tombstone for a woman from Palmyra (a Roman colony in Syria) (wall) occupies a special place in this collection: it is the only example here of an artwork from one of the outlying provinces of the Empire (c. mid-2nd century АD). This figure hardly possesses any individualized qualities, but fine use is made of planes and lines to convey the detail. Another important type of Roman sculpture – the relief – is represented in this Gallery by sarcophagi and fragments of the same (wall). From the second century AD onwards, when sarcophagi became almost ubiquitous, more and more use was made of mythological motifs in their decoration and namely the selection of these reflects the Romans' view of death and life after it. A central position in the Gallery is occupied by an oval sarcophagus decorated with Dionysian scenes (c. 210 AD) – one of the best-known works in the Museum's collection. The compositions decorating it express in metaphorical form the ideas of eternal joy in the pleasures of life after it has come to an end. Another sarcophagus with its depiction of the deceased woman in a medallion is an example of sarcophagi popular in the 3rd century AD, which were decorated with scenes of apotheosis. In the latest of the sarcophagus fragments exhibited here ("History of Ion", "Veneration of the Magi" – dating from the first quarter of the 4th century) more and more importance in ideas about death is being attached to the soul: new ideals are taking shape and so these reliefs have become works of another, Medieval era.