Zelfira Tregulova: ''50% of Tretyakov Gallery's budget was earned by us''

Director of the Tretyakov Gallery about Serov’s phenomenal success, consultants from Britain and installations on the metro

Zelfira Tregulova: ''50% of Tretyakov Gallery's budget was earned by us'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

These days a meeting of the cultural community with director general of State Tretyakov Gallery Zelfira Tregulova took place in the Kazan Hermitage Centre. What Tregulova told about the work of the gallery can be called a masterclass for our museum workers, part of them, unfortunately, is not very good at niceties of art business at the moment.

''People need to be pushed''

The director general of one of the most promoted galleries of the world started the meeting (the interest in which was huge – the Hermitage hall did not host everyone who wished to be there) defining the project Genius of the Century with a word ''cooperation''.

It should be reminded that an exhibition of masterpieces of Russian painting of the early last century from the Tretyakov Gallery's collection officially opened in the Kazan Hermitage Centre on 28 April. The exposition also has works from the collection of the Tatarstan State Museum of Fine Arts.

''The working process on Genius of the Century was joint – workers of the Hermitage centre, Kazan Kremlin museum-reserve, Tatarstan Museum of Fine Arts and the Tretyakov Gallery. My wishes to citizens of Kazan: ''May you have full halls,'' Tregulova talked to her Kazan colleagues.

As it is known, nowadays the Tretyakov Gallery is one of the most successful ones in the world thanks to its rapid development. Its employees considered that the world has changed in the last 20-30 years, it means spectators and their requirements to museums have also changed. This is why the Tretyakov Gallery started to look for new, more modern work approaches some time ago.

An exhibition of masterpieces of Russian painting of the early last century from the Tretyakov Gallery's collection officially opened in the Kazan Hermitage Centre on 28 April. The exposition also has works from the collection of the Tatarstan State Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Maksim Platonov

By the way, the founder of the museum – benefactor Pavel Tretyakov who cared of accumulation of collections — also thought about the importance of museums. ''Pavel Tretyakov performed the mission that emperors should have undertaken – he created the first national museum for people in Russia,'' Tregulova reminded. In fact, Pavel Tretyakov supported the popular art of its time.

The world is going through a museum boom, which helped the museum. A museum is in demand if its work is organised well. Tregulova put an example: 1 million 200 thousand people in Paris visited an exhibition of a collection of Russian benefactor Schukin within a short period time, people stood in the queue for two or three hours. And it is Paris, with its big choice and competition of museums! It means the museum is in demand, people only need to be pushed.

Role-playing games

When the Tretyakov Gallery cared about the creation of a new museum concept several years ago, it decided to use services of some foreign company. There was a tender for creation on such a concept. Representatives of the biggest museums of the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Los Angeles County Museum of Art joined the international jury. A British company won the contest.

The Britons became frequents guests at the Tretyakov Gallery. They visited it six times in three months, talked to employees for a long time. ''My employees called it role-playing games,'' Zelfira Tregulova smiled. For instance, there were such questions: ''What is the mission of the museum today? What a museum would you like to see?'' The work was done with a complete frankness of the sides. All disadvantages and gaps at the gallery were revealed and discussed. As a result, a development strategy and road map that is used today were created. An ideal economic model designed at many years was calculated. Only digits needed to be changed there. The calculations of the Britons affected and historical building of the Tretyakov Gallery on Lavrushinsky Lane and spaces on Crimean Val.

According to Tregulova, the concept of the ''museum for people'' is one of the basic concepts. For instance, the building on Crimean Val considerably changed – a café appeared, ticket offices with all necessary information became handy, a museum shop came about. One of the successful managers in book marketing was invited to head the process. Consequently, the museum shop's turnover increased 22 times.

The yard was reconstructed, halls on Crimean Val were expanded to 4,000 square metres – to organise concerts, show films, hold lectures of leading art experts online. But the yard can be used online in summertime.

The building on Crimean Val considerably changed – a café appeared, ticket offices with all necessary information became handy, a museum shop came about. Photo: mosday.ru

''People visit us, they stay for a long time. They watch exhibitions, go to the café, a concert or lecture,'' Tregulova says. By the way, the sale of souvenirs has changed. Now they are available for different tastes and pockets here – from expensive silk handkerchiefs made in Italy to cheap stuff at 100-200 rubles. Souvenirs are made especially for every exhibition.

Three-hour happiness

The exhibition of Valentin Serov's works is one of the notorious projects of the Tretyakov Gallery in the recent time. ''How can Serov surprise today? What can be considered his phenomenon today?'' Tretyakov Gallery workers asked these questions while preparing the exhibition. PR approaches that are completely new for the museum community have been used in its promotion.

For instance, a promo video was created. It attracted 500,000 views within a short period time. The video did nor reveal the content of the exhibition but intrigued well. Naturally, it attracted many visitors to the halls. The gallery has employed the idea of promo videos. For instance, the promo video dedicated to Thaw exhibition got 1 million views.

When Serov's exhibition was taking place at the gallery, the museum prolonged its working hours – the halls were open for 15 hours per day. As a result, 485,000 people visited the exhibition. ''Yes, people were in the queue for three hours but then they told me it was three-hour happiness,'' Tregulova says. It was cold, people were allowed to warm in a special bus, provided with hot tea, then Ministry of Emergency Situations started to feed the queue with a porridge with meat.

The exhibition of Valentin Serov's works is one of the notorious projects of the Tretyakov Gallery in the recent time. Photo: vedomosti.ru

It seems that Serov's exhibition became one of the points of departure in the new view on museum PR campaigns. Now a special train is circulating on the Moscow metro. It has reproductions of paintings, its many passengers visited the Tretyakov Gallery. Culture Park metro station places installations from time to time. The gallery was rebranded. Consequently, its style has changed.

Expansion of the circle of benefactors, partners and sponsors is one of the areas of work. It is clear that it is not easy to attract sponsors in a crisis. But the Tretyakov Gallery created a loyalty programme. If a company invested money, it can count on such a programme to educate of its employees.

So the flow of visitors to the Tretyakov Gallery halls have increased almost twice in the last two years: if 1 million 372 thousand people visited them in 2014, 2 million 325 thousand acquainted with the expositions in 2016. One half of the Tretyakov Gallery's budget was earned by the very museum workers.

By Tatiana Mamaeva