Kaliningrad is mostly visited by tourists from other countries to satisfy their nostalgia or their curiosity. The first ones constantly seek the former Königsberg and, strangely enough, they find it. The second ones, on the other hand, take pictures with the House of Soviets, grey “Khruschev-era” houses and monuments to Lenin in the background, trying to understand what in reality this so distant, but thanks to Kaliningrad so close, Russia means. Among both these groups of tourists there are art lovers. Especially for them we have made a list of places worth visiting to get acquainted with this essence of creativity that is understandable without words.
Music lovers, theatre-goers and film fans should not be disappointed – next time we shall certainly tell you what Kaliningrad can astonish you with.
Kaliningrad Art Gallery
Address: Moskovsky Avenue, 60-62
Despite its plain facade, Kaliningrad Art Gallery can impress any visitor. 14 000 exhibits – the number is rather big, so to display them all, the staff of the gallery arrange about 50 expositions a year, trying to use the nearly 7 000 square meters of the gallery space to its maximum potential. Here you can see works of classical and alternative art of the Russian artists of the 50-90-s of the XX-th century, an impressive collection of modern graphics of Russian artists (including artists from Kaliningrad) and artists from the Baltic countries, and naturally, works of fine art from Eastern Prussia. Generally speaking, the chance to see something valuable is rather great. The chance will become even greater if you do not visit in summer, when culture in Kaliningrad goes outside as much as possible.
The National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Kaliningrad)
Address: Litovsky Val, 38, entrance № 6
The Kaliningrad branch of NCCA is peculiar in its boldness and, without doubt, lovers of experimental art which cannot keep within the permitted limits will be pleased with it. As a matter of fact, by demonstrating a not always sensible courage, but consistently displaying a professional appreciation of everything possible has made the gallery an extremely popular place. Having decided to visit the Center, you should always expect to encounter something extraordinary – either a crazy exhibition of the artists-anarchists from the south-west of Estonia from 1990-2010, or a concert-performance of local pioneers of psychedelic noise. In addition, while visiting the gallery you will be able “to kill two birds with one stone”: not only being able to get acquainted with modern art, but also to see one of the masterpieces of German defensive architecture – the military barracks «Kronprinz», which was built in the 40-s of the XIX-th century.
Address: Litovsky Val, 61
There is one more place in Kaliningrad where modern art lives rather peacefully together with a «dimly remembered world» – Art-platform «Gates». The gallery consists of an exposition of young (often local) art that is renewed twice a month, a cozy mini-coffee shop, and a co-working zone which are located in Zakheim Gates of the XVII-th century; an historical and cultural monument of the federal significance. Apart from the expositions concerts are often held there, also poetic and discussion groups, lectures and even performances. You can participate in them if you are lucky enough to come at the right time. Even if you miss the chance to take part you will always be able to enjoy delicious coffee with a craft burger.
Art space ”KvARTira” (“ApARTment”)
Address: Koloskova Street, 13
One more “place of power” is the Art space ”KvARTira”. It is not easy for it to accommodate more than 25 people at a time, which means, as you have probably already guessed, this is not a gallery and there are no works of fine art in it. There are however lots of films, music, and books here. The main character of the ”KvARTira” is Artem Ryzhkov who offers beverages and sometimes feeds his guests who have chanced to drop in. He writes thoughtful books, and is slowly but constantly turning Kaliningrad (if he has not already turned it) into a pilgrimage center for film fans. In the ”KvARTira” you can talk to him about things you have seen in the above mentioned places while enjoying your tea or coffee, and also become a witness of one of the regular thoughtful get-togethers that take place, whether it is a meeting of fans of the philosophic investigations of Hannah Arendt, or simply of those who are eager to see some complicated art-house in a big company.
Kaliningrad is not spoiled by street art, but there are a few works which should be searched for. The best graffiti of the city that is worth seeing belongs to the spray can of Gleb Mikhailov. This Kaliningrad artist has created a very impressive portrait of the great writer Lev Tolstoy on the wall of an abandoned house dating from the beginning of the XX-th century at Komsomolskaya Street, 17. You can see his other masterpiece, the portrait of charismatic Salvador Dali, in the Central Park of Culture and Leisure.
However, he is still snapping at the heels of the main artist of Kaliningrad streets – the mysterious El KaRTooN (the local Banksy). His unique and well recognized street-art (mainly scrupulously made portraits of girls and cats of all colors) is scattered throughout the whole Kaliningrad region. You can devote several days to the search for his works (and get acquainted with our region on the way) as many of them have already been part of the urban environment for a long time, becoming an integral part of the canvas they have been applied to.