The 10 Best Contemporary Galleries and Museums in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty | © cat_collector / Flickr
Almaty | © cat_collector / Flickr
Photo of Anete Jekabsone
12 April 2017

Little known to outside world, Kazakhstan’s contemporary art scene is slowly awakening and Almaty is becoming a crucible of activity. With support from a few well-established and renowned art galleries, as well as with emerging art initiatives and projects, contemporary Kazakh and Central Asian artists are gaining international recognition. You can appreciate their work at these 10 exciting art galleries and museums in Almaty.

A. Kasteev State Museum of Arts

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Established in 1976, A. Kasteev State Museum of Arts owns one of the largest collections of applied and decorative arts in the former Soviet Union. The museum showcases the best of Kazakh fine art, as well as the best examples of traditional applied arts, including tapestry, jewelry, felt and leather items. The museum also exhibits a vast collection of Russian art, ranging from the distinctive 17th century icons throughout the blooming of the Russian Avant-Garde in the 1920s, to the startling paintings, sculptures and graphics of Soviet realism in the 1970s. The museum also displays a number of traditional art works of Eastern cultures, including porcelain vases, tapestry and embroidery from China, Korea, India and Japan.

Tengri-Umai Gallery

Art Gallery, Museum
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Founded in 1992, the Tengri-Umai contemporary art gallery was one of the first private art galleries in Kazakhstan. The gallery plays an essential role in representing well-known and established Kazakh artists, as well supporting and promoting the emerging talents of Kazakh contemporary art. The gallery represents and regularly showcases the work of award winning Gulnur Mukazhanova and Almagul Menlibayeva, whose collaborative art work with Iranian artist Bahar Behbahani was featured at the 18th Biennale of Sydney. The exhibits include a variety of mediums, from photography and paintings to mixed media works. The gallery together with A.Katseev State Museum of Arts, Goethe Institute, British Council and Alliance Française organizes a variety of art related educational and awareness raising activities, including seminars, discussions and lectures.

Oyu Art Gallery

Art Gallery
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Courtesy Oyu Gallery
Located in the city center, the Oyu Art Gallery specializes in the best of Kazakh fine art, and focuses exclusively on established modern and contemporary artists of Kazakhstan. The subject matters mostly focus on Kazakhstan and Central Asia, ranging from the representation of historic events, places and people to the symbolic depiction of traditional nomad lifestyles, landscapes of the endless steppes and ancestral customs and festivities. Over the years, the gallery has showcased a variety of renowned artists, including Alpysbai Kazgulov, Aktoty Smagulova, Akhmet Akhat and others. The gallery has also published a series of art books and catalogs on various aspects of Kazakh traditional and contemporary art scene.

International Art Development Association

Although without a space of its own, the newly formed International Art Development Association has without a doubt emerged as one of the leaders in supporting and promoting contemporary Central Asian artists in the global art market. After recently launching a superb Kazakhstani contemporary art exhibition prior to the Venice Biennale in 2015 called ONE STEP/PE FORWARD at Palazzo Bragadin in Venice, the Association continues to promote contemporary art both at home and at various international art fairs, conferences and auctions, whether in Brussels, Miami or Dubai. The artists represented by the gallery include such contemporary artists as Gaisha Madanova, Said Atabekov, Galim Madanov and Zauresh Terekbay.

Between Paris, Venice and Almaty

Arvest Gallery

One of the most active and vibrant Almaty art galleries, Arvest Gallery not only regularly organizes individual and group art exhibitions, conducts weekly master classes, but also functions as an art agency, selling exhibited artworks, providing art advisory services and offering quality custom framing. To properly celebrate its seventh anniversary in February, the gallery hosted exhibition by showcasing the best of Kazakh modern and contemporary artists, working in traditional art mediums such as paintings, photography, graphics, ceramics and sculpture. Located in the bustling city center, Arvest, meaning art, creation and knowledge in Armenian, offers a myriad of arty souvenirs, ranging from small sculptures and jeweler to wooden carvings and Kazakh-themed felt works.

Arvest Galler, 75/78 Bogenbay Batira Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan, + 7 727 291 47 97

ARK Gallery

Located in the Medeu district of Almaty, ARK Gallery has played an active part in the promotion and development of Kazakhstan’s modern and contemporary art scene. The gallery follows an incredibly egalitarian policy, showcasing the leading contemporary artists of Kazakhstan and Central Asia along with undiscovered talents and long forgotten or obscure Soviet underground artists. The gallery mostly displays artworks in traditional mediums such as paintings, sculptures and graphics; however, lately various mixed-media pieces have also found their way in the exhibition halls. The gallery hosts both solo and group exhibitions, with past exhibitions including such artists as Alexander Kuvshinov and Vyacheslav Lui Ko.

ARK Gallery, 240 Dostyk Avenue, Almaty, Kazakhstan, + 7 727 258 4066

Artspace KZ

A recent newcomer to the emerging art scene in Almaty, ArtSpace KZ features a variety of modern and contemporary art, as well as displays the most exquisite traditional artworks – distinctive jewelry pieces, traditional tufted carpets, fine ceramics, and a variety of wooden and leather accessories from Kazakhstan and all over the former Soviet Union. As in the case of the exhibition of Zhangir Umbetova and Amangul Ihanovoy, who used calfskin as a canvass for their paintings, or the Silk Road themed exhibition of Akhmet Akhat, the past exhibits of modern and contemporary art often show a certain reverence towards the Kazakh ancestral legacy and nomadic traditions.

Artspace KZ, 119 Furmanov Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan, + 77272732660

Art Space KZ

Courtesy of Art Space KZ

Nedelka Project

Established two years ago, independent art initiative Nedelka Project carries out a variety of educational and innovative projects in the following seven categories: visual art, architecture and design, cultural studies and philosophy, music, youth initiatives, literature and anthropology. Launched by entrepreneurial duo of young intellectuals, Timur Nusimbekov and Asel Yeszhanova, the initiative has launched a variety of contemporary art exhibitions, lectures and art events all over Kazakhstan, with the most recent exhibition, 1937: Territory of memory/ Zhoktau, exploring the nature and impact of Soviet political oppression on generations of modern artists in Central Asia, taking place in A.Kasteev Museum of Arts in Almaty.

Almaty, Kazakhstan, + 7 705 8603051

Ular Art Gallery

Art Gallery
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Галерея Улар / Ular gallery, Almaty
Галерея Улар / Ular gallery, Almaty | Courtesy Ular Gallery
A peer of the aforementioned Tengri-Umai gallery, the more conservative Ular Art Gallery was established in Almaty a year later. The gallery promotes renowned Kazakh and Russian artists of the 1960s such as Salikhitdin Aitbayev and Sergei Kalmykov, both working in an impressive variety of styles, from Socialist Realism to expressive avant-garde. The gallery also doubles up as an art agency, offering a variety of personalized art-advisory services for corporate and private clients, and, thus, displays and sells modern and contemporary Kazakh artists, working with traditional art forms. Nonetheless, the Ular Art Gallery also actively engages in art-promotion and education activities, for example, by placing reproductions of famous Kazakh art works on billboards around the city in 2012.


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L.E.S. short for ‘local experimental space’, is a vibrant and creative multi-purpose space of 650 square meters, a recent home for a number of start-up businesses, a charming cafe, a fitness studio, a cinema club and an exhibition hall. The L.E.S. regularly hosts various modern and contemporary art exhibitions, master classes, workshops and lectures for artists, dealers, curators, art critics and art lovers. L.E.S. offers a flexible and shared office space for the creatively minded and much needed exhibition place for emerging artists. In 2013 L.E.S. hosted a variety of exhibitions and events in the framework of the annual ARTBAT FEST, the best-known contemporary art festival in Kazakhstan.

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