Bolshoi in Russia: Moscow museum night is free (hence popular with hipsters)

Greetings from Moscow! Bolshoi in Russia is my variation on Big in Japan. (Bolshoi means “Big” in Russian. Get it?) Stay tuned for my live dispatches from Russia this week.

Moscow held their 11th annual Night of Museums (or Long Night of Museums) on Saturday, May 17. I haven’t seen as many people in one place since visiting China. I shouldn’t be surprised. It was, after all, a free event. The majority of life in Moscow is far from free.

Long Night of Museums, began in Berlin in 1997 as an attempt to bring more people into museums and art galleries, focusing on younger people who may not be regular museum-goers. Moscow, like 120 cities across Europe, now participates in Museum Night, holding free late-night museum and gallery open houses on the same day.

Saturday night was an interesting dichotomy for me. First, I went to the one of the galleries–Winzavod (ex-wine distillery turned into really hip industrial space, turned into gallery) and saw thousands of young hipsters roam around the galleries. You would never know whether you were in Moscow, New York or Paris. It dawned on me that hipsters are the most globalized group of people out there. Hipsters–through their attempt to differentiate themselves from the majority–look the same anywhere in the world.

After the Museum Night, I went to Opera, one of the most popular Russian clubs. It was like being in a completely different city. Moscow is like that. The “art people” never interact with the “club people”, who never interact with the Russian Orthodox “traditional” folks. It’s a different city depending on what clique you belong to. More so than in any other place I have seen.

From Russia, with love.