Excellency Ambassador Ms. Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO,
Excellency Ambassador of the Russian Federation in France Mr. Alexander Orlov,
Ms. Irina Antonova, Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, I am delighted to welcome you to UNESCO to celebrate the centenary of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
UNESCO is proud to be associated with this celebration of art, inspiration and human ingenuity.
The world counts few museums like this, with some 560,000 pieces -- from Egyptian mummies, antique amphorae to Dutch Masters, from Rubens to Cezanne, Poussin to Gauguin.
I wish to thank Ambassador Mitrofanova and Ms. Antonova for sharing some of the Museum’s wonders, thanks to this exhibition.
These photographs walk us through the history of the Museum and open a window onto its collection, including paintings, sculptures, masks and the graphic arts.
We see also some of the pioneering initiatives the Museum has undertaken to advance international cooperation – the exhibitions, “Moscow-Paris” and “Moscow-Berlin,” were showcases of the finest scholarship and design.
All of this shows the importance of museums today.
Museums are not neutral exhibition spaces.
They embody strong values, and they take them forward, performing an essential public service by conserving and promoting artistic creations.
They are also places of learning, connecting us with our past, inspiring us in the present.
The scope of the Pushkin Museum is global, but it is deeply embedded in a local community.
Situated in one of Moscow’s historic neighbourhoods, the Museum has always played a leading role in the social, economic and human development of the Russian capital.
For all these reasons, UNESCO is honoured to participate in the year-long festivities to celebrate this anniversary.
Just this May, we were pleased, for instance, to participate in the International Museum Festival held in Moscow, jointly organized by the Russian International Council of Museums Committee and the Pushkin Museum.
For UNESCO, museums are repositories of collective histories, values and identities and vehicles for intercultural dialogue and understanding.
This exhibition celebrates the centenary of a great institution that embodies these shared values.
With this, it is my pleasure to wish the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts a very happy birthday.