Director Marina Loshak is leaving Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which she has led for a decade. Born in Ukraine, Odesa, Loshak arrived in Moscow in 1986. She was appointed director of the Pushkin—home to the city’s largest collection of Western art—in 2013, and since then has organized a number of major exhibitions, frequently collaborating with international institutions. Elizaveta Likhacheva, currently the director of Moscow’s Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, will fill her role.
Losahak’s departure is thought to be a result of political pressure, which has been intensifying in Russia’s art world of late. Loshak’s daughter and nephew, both opposition journalists who left the country after it invaded Ukraine in February 2021, have been branded “foreign agents” by the Russian ministry of justice. Loshak’s more government-friendly successor, Likhacheva, was some twenty years ago employed by a pro-Kremlin youth group, and later worked for Russia’s ministry of the interior, according to opposition news site Agentsvo.
Loshak’s seeming ouster comes just weeks after widely respected art historian Zelfira Tregulova was forced out as director of Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery. Tregulova was succeeded by Elena Pronicheva, the daughter of a high-ranking military official in the Putin administration. However, where Pronicheva had little experience in the field of art prior to assuming leadership of the Tretyakov Gallery, Likhacheva is said to have gained the respect of her peers after assuming leadership of the architecture museum in 2017.
“I was the director of the museum for ten years,” said Loshak in a statement released by the Pushkin on her departure. “You need the next person to come with new energy, with new thoughts, and with new ambitions to continue what others have started.”