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Russian Fine Arts Museum Head Leaves After 52 Years

Irina Antonova
Moscow's former Pushkin Fine Art State Museum Director Irina Antonova. She left her job after holding the post for more than half a century, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said. Photographer: Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts director Irina Antonova left her job after holding the post for more than half a century, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said today.

Antonova, 91, is a “legend” with a unique record of service, Medinsky said, according to a statement on the ministry’s website. The new head of the Pushkin Museum, art-director for the Manezh exhibition alliance Marina Loshak, is expected to add “fresh breath” to the museum, he said.

In 1974, Antonova brought the Mona Lisa to Moscow for the first time and Muscovites queued for several hours to see the painting.

“She is the person that Moscow should be grateful to for getting all the outstanding pieces of art,” Vladimir Tolstoy, adviser on culture for President Vladimir Putin, said by telephone.

This year, Antonova’s proposal to move a part of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage museum collection to Moscow was criticized by Medinsky. Antonova, who is to get a new job as museum’s president, said she quit to spend more time with her family.

Pushkin Museum, which celebrated its centenary in 2012, is Moscow’s largest museum of Western art, with 670,000 exhibits, according to its website.

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on arts, Elin McCoy on wine, Mark Beech on music, Catherine Hickley on German art and Greg Evans on U.S. television.

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