Moscow art lovers besiege Tretyakov Gallery, triggering online ticket sales limitation

© Татьяна Соловьева
A physical need to access art created perfect stampede conditions at a branch of Moscow’s iconic Tretyakov Gallery, when hundreds waiting in line to see a rare exhibition of one of Russia's best known painters’ works forced their way inside.

Despite temperatures in the Russian capital having plunged to -14 degrees Celsius, hundreds of people still gathered outside a State Tretyakov Gallery building on Krymsky Val. It exhibits of 20th century Russian art, and presently among them is the work of Valentin Serov, one of the premier portrait artists of his era.

Two lines of art lovers formed outside the exhibition building: those who had bought their admission tickets online and those still waiting to purchase one to see one for the exhibition which ends this week. People were slowly being let into the building as the gallery staff tried to cope with the large visitor influx.

However, tired of waiting, people who were standing in line to purchase tickets broke through one of the closed doors wrestling their way in. At the same time, people standing in a queue with electronic tickets, started knocking on the other door, shouting at gallery staff to let them in, as they already had purchased their admission to see the exhibition and thought that waiting in line was unnecessary.

Luckily no-one was hurt in the commotion that followed and everyone eventually was let in to see the works by Serov. To avoid similar incidents from taking place, the Tretyakov gallery announced that they will temporarily suspend the online sales of tickets.

“Until the end of the exhibition we have temporarily stopped selling online tickets because there were questions from people who have bought online tickets and thought that once purchased, they can pass through without waiting in line,” the gallery's spokesperson told RIA Novosti.

In reality, the large online ticket sales for the exhibition is what created the long queues in the first place, the spokesperson said adding that those who had already purchased their tickets online can use them for the exhibition that runs until January 24.

The gallery urged its visitors to stay calm and respect the large crowds of people who also wanted to see the Serov’s 150th anniversary exhibition.

“The museum has certain admission restrictions in the exhibition halls, as more people change temperature and humidity conditions in the halls, which can cause harm to the exhibits,” spokesperson explained.

Just in case, the museum has called in extra volunteers to cater to the needs of the public and is providing people with hot tea and coffee. Extra medical and police personnel have also been deployed at Krymsky Val.

January 19 marked the 150th anniversary of the Russian painter Valentin Serov, who was born in St. Petersburg. In his childhood he studied in Paris, and in Moscow under Ilya Repin before going on to the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. He later taught in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1897 to 1909. He is best known for his portraits, with his works considered the greatest among Russian realistic art.

Krymsky Val is the premier destination for those trying to see displays of works by Russian avant-garde masters from the 1900s-1920s who are famous all over the world, such as Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky and Marc Chagall.