While FotoFest's Biennial of Russian photography may be behind us, the organization's partnership with Singapore Airlines has left Houstonians with a pair of affordable trip options to Moscow and St. Petersburg.
"The huge number of art museums and palaces in both cities was one of the main reasons we first started our Russia packages 15 years ago," said Edwin Choy of GloboTours, the company that arranges and customizes itineraries for the tours.
Explore Moscow's current art scene at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture or Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, both of which provided support for Fotofest.
Starting at $2149, the Moscow itinerary offers a six-day, four-night stay at the recently-built Lotte Hotel at the edge of the historic Arbat District, a tangle of old city streets that became home to countless artists and musicians in the 1960s and '70s.
Pre-arranged morning tours of landmarks like the Kremlin and the St. Basil's Cathedral free up afternoons to explore Moscow's current art scene at newer institutions such as the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, a non-profit art space that served as one of the main sponsors of FotoFest 2012 Biennial.
Also not to miss is the Lumiere Brothers Photogallery with its newly-founded Center for Photography, which served as another major supporter for this year's Biennial. One of Russia's first galleries dedicated to Russian fine art photography, Lumiere opened in 2001 to focus on Soviet photographers and photojournalists. A museum, lecture hall and public library were added in 2010.
A second package option that starts at $3399 adds St. Petersburg into the mix with an eight-day, six-night tour covering both cities.
While Moscow represents a more avant-garde spectrum of Russian art, St. Petersburg has been the country's artistic heartbeat since Peter the Great founded the city in 1703 to compete with Europe's greatest cultural centers. While the Hermitage Museum is a must, be sure to see the legendary Pushkinskaya-10 — a hive of contemporary art and music located inside an abandoned Soviet apartment block — as well.