During its period of existence, the Art Gallery of the Museum Centre of the Ministry of Culture has commended itself as one of the most active exhibition halls in Baku. Thanks to the architectural design and variety of the exhibitions, the Gallery has earned a reputation as a most respectable cultural stage, on which unique exhibition projects by the capital city of Azerbaijan are held.
About 400 exhibitions on different subjects have been held at the Gallery since 1999. Despite its universality, the Gallery is most suited to projects concerning the conceptual art of Azerbaijan. One of the first exhibitions “Time of the Call” (2002), dedicated to Azerbaijani transavant-garde, set a tone which defined the future activity of the Gallery.
This exhibition was followed by the first Baku photographic festival “Ayna” (“Mirror”) (2002), which displayed the works of Azerbaijani and foreign photographers.
One of the most memorable exhibitions was the joint Azerbaijani-Georgian project “Even More Transparent” which was drenched in the special scent of Caucasian friendship; it was organised by the “Wings of Time” Association. The most significant artists of both countries, involved in various kinds of video art, photography, installation and performance, were exhibited at the event.
The international festival of modern art, “Aluminum, Art + new technology”, organized by the “Wings of Time” Association, began in the halls of the Gallery in 2003. The festival presented Baku viewers with an explosion of possibilities, wrapped in the most interactive kinds of topical art.
Since 2006 the Gallery has been involved in its own projects, especially the exhibition of Azerbaijani artists from the “Times of Year” series – “Colours of Autumn”, “Spring. Woman. Love”, “Impression of Summer”, “The Harmony of Winter”, the “Rainbow of Love” exhibition; many interesting exhibitions were held within the framework of cultural days of the United Arabic Emirates, the Republic of Tatarstan and Saudi Arabia. Much attention is given to international projects. Many exhibitions at the Gallery have been spectacularly successful: the exhibition of five directions by the German photographer Claus Wickrath, the solo exhibition by the famous Bulgarian artist Emil Stoichev and the photo-display “Illuminations” by Tuba Oztekin-Koymen, a representative of the modern American school of photography. Each exhibition, following its logic, promoted an expansion of new opportunities within the Galleries, which seem to be inexhaustible, if there is imagination.
The history of the Gallery is deeply intertwined with the history of the Museum Centre, as the Gallery is part of the Centre. During the years of Soviet Power, when the Lenin Museum (the former name of the Museum Centre) was a particular ideological “temple”, the Gallery served as an exhibition hall. The first exhibition event held at the Museum Centre was a display dedicated to the first flight of a man into outer space in 1961. Many grand displays, with the participation of local and foreign artists, were held there. This is when the perfect daytime lighting for pictures was realised, by careful use of the “advantages” of the top floor.
At the end of the 80s, when the Soviet Union was living its last years, the Museum of the Komsomol of the Central Committee of the All Union Leninist Young Communist League was opened in the Gallery. The organizers of the museum breached the unique aura of the halls, shutting out the light from above. The “Komsomol” Museum existed for a very short period of time. The Lenin Museum was renamed the Museum Centre in 1991, following the collapse of the USSR and the Gallery regained its initial identity.
Depending on the requirements of each exhibition, one can use both the natural daylight from above, and the individual “spot” lights for each exhibit. The art gallery is comprised of five spacious halls with an overall area of 400m².