Автовилль культурный центр /
Autoville Culture Center
Ул. Усачева, д. 2, стр. 1
One thing that Russian cities tend to have in abundance is museums, and Moscow, not surprisingly, is loaded with them. Of course the heavyweights—the Tretyakov, Pushkin, Museum of Modern Art—get the lion’s share of visitors, but there are dozens of smaller museums that are definitely worth seeing if time allows. The Autoville Culture Center is just one of many quirky and slightly-off-the-beaten-track options.
Autoville is located on the edge of Trubetskiy Park in the historic Frunzenskaya area. It’s worth noting that the museum is only part of the Autoville complex, which also includes the Volga Café, Moskvich restaurant, and Chaika (Seagull) boutique, among other things. I would highly recommend stopping in the Chaika, which is basically a museum gift store, but with a lot of unusual and affordable offerings. Not surprisingly, they specialize in model cars, but there is also a ton of Soviet kitsch in the form of barware, picnic sets, passport covers, etc. Additionally, leather-goods seem to be a forte of theirs, including driving gloves and business-card holders. As someone who is living in Moscow long-term, I try to keep a list of go-to stores for gifts, and Chaika is now one of them.
The museum itself is laid out on two floors that sandwich the lobby/ gift shop. Starting from the lower level, you can view the collection chronologically. Placards next to each exhibit provide a statistically rundown for the more car-savvy visitor, as well as a written description of the car’s place in automotive history. It should be noted that there are no English translations, which might be a drawback for some international visitors. Many of the exhibits are, simply put, exquisite. The collection includes many extremely-rare cars (the earliest Ferraris, for example), and some quite odd ones (a one-seater VW that had a run of a couple hundred in the 60s.) All the models have been immaculately refurbished and are displayed in such a way as to highlight their most impressive/ unusual features.
The museum staff is, unfortunately, not very friendly or helpful. Despite the fact that Autoville’s website states that guided tours are offered every two hours, there was no tour available on our visit. The receptionist seemed exasperated (despite there being all of 6 or 7 people in the museum) when my husband and I inquired about it and told us that we would have to find at least three other visitors who wanted to take the tour. We managed to recruit a couple of college-students, but alas, to no avail. Apparently English-language tours can be arranged in advance, but be ready to get out your wallet, as they start at 3000 rubles. Given that the museum is fairly small –one can easily make the rounds in less than an hour—this seems a bit pricy.
Alyssa Yorgan holds a BM (cello performance) and an MA (musicology) from Indiana University-Bloomington. She has focused most of her research on music and politics in the Soviet Union. She has studied abroad in Ufa, Russia (via a State Dept. Critical Language Scholarship) and has now worked abroad in a variety of fields including teaching English, working as a recruiter for American Councils’ FLEX program, and translating. She is currently studying through SRAS on a customized Translate Abroad internship and hopes to pursue future work in Moscow in the fields of translating, editing, and localization management.