The museum has a unique collection of works of art of Ancient Egypt, antiquity, the Russian and Western European painting, icons, graphics, decorative and applied arts, a sculpture. And also canvases of the famous Voronezh painters – Ivan Kramsky, Alexander Buchkuri, Elena Kiselyova, works of the modern Voronezh artists which give a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the characteristic features of cultures of different peoples in different eras, with their ideals and aspirations embodied in the works of fine arts. The museum fund contains over 23.000 objects.
The art museum in the city was opened in 1933, but the history of formation of museum collections began much earlier, in the middle of the 19th century when there was a thought of creation of the provincial museum. Thus, the age of a collection is more than 100 years. The idea of creating the museum was based on an attempt of the Voronezh scientists – historians, ethnographers, enthusiasts of study of local history, lovers of antiquity– to establish the memorial exposition reflecting activity of Peter I and his closest associates who created the Azov flotilla on the Voronezh shipyards.
The ministry of military department has transferred to committee on creation of a memorial more than hundred engravings of Peter’s time which are still kept in the museum’s collections. Many of them – portraits of Peter and his associates, battle scenes, architectural landscapes of St. Petersburg, views of fortifications – were created by Alexey Zubov, a master of carved engravings, in the 18th century.
The Voronezh provincial museum was opened on September 9, 1894. By the time the museum was founded, its departments were formed: historical, art and ethnographic, and artistic. The art collection of the provincial museum was enriched with the works of painting donated by the Mitrofanovsky monastery and Voronezh Mikhaylovsky military school. Among them there are portraits of the highest persons of the royal house executed by unknown masters of the XVIII-XIX centuries. Many works came in postrevolutionary years from the abandoned or requisitioned by the new government estates.
In the early twenties of the XX century the art department of the provincial museum considerably was greatly enlarged by works of Russian and West European painting. A large number of works came from the Ramon estate of the princess Evgenia Maksimilianovna Oldenburgskaya. Paintings by our countryman Ivan Nikolayevich Kramskoy were purchased from the artist’s family.
The collection of modern painting was supplemented by works from the Voronezh art technical school. Among them portraits and Robert Falk, Natalya Goncharova, Kazimir Malevich, Pavel Kuznetsov, Alexander Kuprin’s landscapes.
The Art Department of the provincial museum was enriched and enriched by its merger with the Museum of Antiquities and Fine Arts of Voronezh State University, founded in 1918 on the basis of the former Imperial University of Tartu, which was evacuated to Voronezh from the city of Tartu.
Since 1803 the University had a Museum of Fine Arts. The collection of this museum had a high cultural, historical and artistic value and included works of Ancient Egypt, antiquity, Russian and Western European painting, graphics and also a numismatic collection.
The museum of antiquities and fine arts of Voronezh State University and art collection of the provincial museum formed a basis of the Voronezh regional museum of Fine Arts founded on January 15, 1933.
Second World War events in 1941 forced the temporary removal of the art treasures inland. The collection was evacuated to Omsk.
From 1948 to 1959 there were two museums in the palace: museum of local lore and museum of Fine Arts. According to the decision of Executive committee of regional council of deputies of workers the first floor of the building and a wing belonged to museum of local lore, the second floor – to museum of Fine Arts, the third floor – to the funds of both museums.
Since 1959. “The Voronezh palace” was completely given to museum of Fine Arts, and the museum of local lore was moved to the new building.
In 1984 the museum was named after a native of Voronezh Province, the artist I.N. Kramskoy.