AFTER seven years of alliance, Malaga returns the Russian art collection back to St. Petersburg.

The same time Malaga has opened its doors and welcomed refugees fleeing Ukraine, it is losing one of its main cultural jewels.

Yesterday, Tuesday May 3, the people of Malaga bid farewell to the Russian art collections that have played a key role in making the capital the ‘city of museums’.

The alliance between Malaga City Council and the State Museum of St Petersburg, forged seven years ago, began to fracture on February 24, when Russian troops set foot in its neighbouring country.

The last few weeks and ongoing war together with sanctions imposed by the European Union on Putin’s government has led to the definitive breakdown of relations between Malaga and the Russian cultural institution.

Malaga City Council initially decided to keep the art gallery ‘hibernated’ with the works from the latest exhibitions: ‘War and Peace in Russian Art’, and the temporary exhibitions ‘The Vanguards in Russian Art’, ‘Mayakovsky, Artist and Poet’ and ‘Dostoevsky on his bicentennial,’ however, the breakdown of relations has meant that all the art pieces will be returned.

With last Monday, May 2, being the last day they were on public display.

As of yesterday, Tuesday, the Museum’s Conservation and Restoration teams have started carefully dismantling the pieces to send them back to Saint Petersburg.

Over the years, the Russian Museum in Malaga has welcomed more than 40 top-level exhibitions to the Costa del Sol and attracted nearly 750,000 visitors.

The rooms of the old tobacco factory will reopen at the end of May with an exhibition on Picasso—the City Council’s bid to provide a temporary solution not only for the institution, but also for the 80 staff employed there.

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