If you don't fancy an evening of sequins and tele-glamour with Eurovision this Saturday evening, you have a huge choice of alternative events going on across town. There are well over 100 museums in Moscow and they are opening free late into the evening of May 16, in honour of International Museums' Day on Monday, when many open for free again.
Moscow has a museum for just about anything and anybody connected with the city. For more details, see nochvmusee.ru
If you simply want to see a particular museum, you might feel it's worth paying the (usually not very high) entry fee and going at a quieter time, but if you want to experience the festive atmosphere or pop into some less well-known venues, here are some of your options.
Besides the big names like the Tretyakov gallery and Pushkin museum, Moscow has dozens of smaller galleries. The Museum of Oriental Art on Nikitsky Bulvar is offering a night of Indian dancing along with its rich permanent display, bright with coloured silks and eastern ceramics. The Muzeon sculpture garden outside the New Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val is planning a sound and light show among the fallen Soviet idols and making use of its riverside location to provide dancing fountains.
The funky Winzavod galleries, in a converted wine factory near Kurskaya, are planning a party. Sara Jarman, a young American visitor, checked it out last year and remembers: "A lot of people everywhere ... a lot of food - mostly shashlyks ... a live band playing in the courtyard towards the back." She added, "I like the idea of having museums open all night a couple of days during the summer. It's nice to get a taste for different crowds of people."
Several places are laying on music, from medieval pipes at the Old English Court to experimental jazz at the home of avant-garde poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. There are also dedicated musical museums across the city, such as the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture on Ulitsa Fadeyeva, with its collection of rare and exotic instruments. It has a full programme of concerts lined up, from 8pm until 1am.
Moscow has been home to numerous theatrical celebrities across the centuries. The 19th-century playwright Alexander Ostrovsky lived in a charming wooden house on Ulitsa Malaya Ordynka. There is now a museum inside with the ground floor preserved in the usual reverential style while the upstairs has a fascinating display of sets, costumes and memorabilia from the Maly Theatre. The Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre, on Kamergersky Pereulok, also has its own museum, packed with stage design models and props from famous productions.
This could be a good time to visit Leo Tolstoy's house museum in Khamovniki, with its bearskin rug and samovar, or pop into the new Gogol Museum on Nikitsky Bulvar. A lot of writers, including Alexander Pushkin, Marina Tsvetayeva and Mikhail Lermontov, lived in the Arbat area. With its cafes and pedestrian streets, it would be great for a house-museum crawl.
The Archaeological Museum, on Manezhnaya Ploshchad, exhibits the treasures that were dug up when the square was reconstructed in the 1990s: hoards of ancient coins, a medieval sock and the whole of an ancient bridge across the Neglinnaya River. Across the Moscow River, the small but chilling display in the infamous House on the Embankment is open until 1 am.
There are plenty of historical buildings to see in the suburbs as well. The Kuzminki Estate in southeast Moscow is anticipating up to 10,000 visitors, who can enjoy exhibitions, games, concerts, carriages, and historical costumes. The landscaped park at Tsaritsyno will also be open for night-time tours of the estate.
One of Moscow's most unusual museums is the Submarine Museum in the Northern Tushino Park, near Skhodnenskaya metro station. It is said to be planning a waterside programme until 2 am including lasers, fireworks and illuminated fountains. The Timiryazev
Biological Museum, in a Russian revival-style building round the back of the zoo, lists an interactive programme of events including sampling the smells and noises of the night.
Another little gem of a museum is Moscow Lights on Armyansky Pereulok, whose collection of ancient gas and oil lamps will be open until 11 pm. The newly-reopened Museum of Space Exploration will be letting in visitors until 1am to see the stuffed space dogs and Gagarin's Vostok capsule.
As well as museums and galleries, theatres and libraries, some buildings that are not usually open to the public are offering tours. Jane McKinven, an expatriate who has run an amateur architecture group in Moscow for nearly 10 years, was particularly delighted last year to be able to get into some houses that were usually closed. "We visited some buildings around Arbat," she said, "and there were several groups doing the same thing, so we were recommending places to each other. There was such a friendly atmosphere". ■
Museum of Oriental Art
12a Nikitsky Bulvar, 202 4555, m. Pushkinskaya
Muzeon sculpture garden
10 Ul. Krymsky Val, 238 3679, m. Oktyabrskaya or Park Kultury www.muzeon.ru
1/6 4th Syromyatnichesky Per., 917 4646, m. Kurskaya www.winzavod.ru
Old English Court
4a Ul. Varvarka, 298 3952, m. Kitai-Gorod
Vladimir Mayakovsky Apartment Museum
3/6 Lubyansky Proyezd, 921 9387, m. Lubyanka
Glinka Museum of Musical Culture
4 Ul. Fadeyeva, 739 6226, m. Mayakovskaya
Alexander Ostrovsky Estate Museum
9 Ul. Malaya Ordynka, 953 8684, m. Tretyakovskaya
Chekhov Art Theatre museum
3a Kamergersky Per., 629 0080, m. Okhotny Ryad
Leo Tolstoy Museum Estate in Khamovniki
21 Lva Tolstogo Ul., 246 9444, m. Park Kultury
Nikolai Gogol House Museum
7a Nikitsky Bulvar, 695 9256, m. Arbatskaya
Mikhail Lermontov House Museum
2 Malaya Molchanovka Ul., 291 5296, m. Arbatskaya
Marina Tsvetayeva House Museum
6 Borisoglebsky Per., 202 3543, m. Arbatskaya
Alexander Pushkin Museum Apartment
53 Arbat Ul., 241 9295, m. Smolenskaya
1a Manezhnaya Pl., 692 4171, m. Ploshchad Revolyutsii
House on the Embankment, 2/20 Sofiiskaya Nab., 959 4936, m. Polyanka
Museum of Russian Estate Culture in Kuzminki
6 Topolevaya Alleya, 377 9457, m. Kuzminki
Tsaritsyno Museum Preserve
1 Dolskaya Ul., 321 0743, m. Tsaritsyno
44-48 Ul. Svobody, m. Skhodnenskaya
Timiryazev Biological Museum
15 Malaya Gruzinskaya Ul., 252 0749, m. Barrikadnaya
3 Armyansky Per., 924 7374, m. Kitai-Gorod
Museum of Space Exploration
Alleya Kosmonavtikov, 111 Prospekt Mira, 683 7914, m. VDNKh