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Ashmolean to share exhibitions with Russian counterpart as part of Oxford twinning

Matt Oliver, Local government reporter

VISITORS to the Ashmolean Museum could soon be looking at items loaned from Oxford's twin city in Russia after an agreement to exchange exhibitions.

Perm Art Museum

Staff from the Perm State Art Gallery met bosses at the museum to discuss ways they can work together, after more than 20 years of links between their cities.

They said this could start with exchanging exhibitions and lead to the sharing of expertise and other resources.

Ashmolean director Dr Alexander Sturgis said: "The Perm gallery is regarded as the most remarkable Ural art museum in Russia with a collection which includes among other things a remarkable collection of painted wooden sculptures, and the Ashmolean has the UK’s most significant collection of Russian art.

"We are keen to explore future areas for international collaboration and this could take a range of different forms."

Perm, the most easterly city in Europe, is situated nine hundred miles east of Moscow, between the Kama River and the Urals Mountains.

It has been officially twinned with Oxford since 1995 and the wider Perm region – roughly the size of England – is also twinned with Oxfordshire.

As well as an internationally famous ballet school, the city's gallery has a collection of religious wooden sculptures that is recognised as one of the most impressive in the world.

Previous exchanges have included politicians and journalists, school pupils, dancers, teachers and artists, but it is believed the agreement between the gallery and Ashmolean would be the first of its kind between the cities.

Perm State Art Gallery director Yulia Tavrizyan said: "We feel honoured to have visited Oxford and the Ashmolean to discuss possible future collaboration.

"We would like to start with a small exhibition exchange and then, as things progress, to be able to share more of the wonderful offerings of our different museums with the people of our twinned cities."

Tatiana Grigoreva, head of international relations at Perm City Council added: "We are also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Perm University.

"A link with the Ashmolean would be a wonderful way to celebrate the bonds between our two cities, which began with joint working between the two universities."

A visit last month to the Ashmolean by the Perm officials also revealed the museum held a bust of Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the influential Ballets Russes who lived in Perm until he was 16.

Every year, the city hosts the Diaghilev Festival, an international arts event. While in Oxford, Mr Tavrizyan and Ms Grigoreva also visited the Story Museum, Modern Art Oxford, and Waddesdon Manor.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: "The Perm-Oxford relationship is an extremely strong one and over the long-term we hope to extend it to include lots of museums and institutions, such as the botanic gardens.", May 20, 2016


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