On a quiet Tashkent street, hidden from the city’s noise in one of the neighborhoods, a passerby will notice a building with Uzbek traditional ayvan terrace decorated with beautifully carved columns. This is the Museum of Applied Arts. It occupies the building whose construction was commissioned by Alexander Polovtsev, a wealthy tsarist diplomat of Turkestan Governor-General’s Office. A connoisseur of Oriental architecture and decorative patterns, he invited the local well-known gunchkor and nakkosh artists to decorate his mansion.
In addition to the extant ayvan terrace, the building still retains its original main hall, where solemn receptions used to be held. These two constructions themselves are the main attractions of the museum. Their walls and ceilings are decorated with ancient gunch stucco carvings and exquisite patterns in paints. Particularly interesting is the multi-tier ceiling with stalactite cornices in the central hall. This splendor is supplemented with khantakhta tables decorated with carvings and paintings, as well as other furniture pieces made by Uzbek craftsmen at the end of the 19th century.
The other halls of the museum exhibit the works of the best craftsmen, representing all the local schools and styles of the 19th – 20th centuries. Here you can see the ‘blue ceramics’ of Rishtan and Gurumsaray masters, the pottery of Shakhrisabz, Khiva, Gijduvan and Tashkent kulol ceramists. On display are samples of the carpets and embroidery, the famous Bukhara gold embroidery. Next to them are copper and brass articles twinkling with their decorative patterns, and national jewelery glittering with sold and precious stones. A special hall in the museum is dedicated to handmade weaving articles and a wide variety of national garments, including headgear. There is also a fine display of Uzbek musical instruments, which are decorated with nacre, silver and fretwork in precious types of wood.
For real connoisseurs of arts and crafts a visit to the Museum of Applied Arts will be a pure feast. Besides, the museum regularly puts on trade exhibitions presenting the make of the country’s best craftsmen, which distinguishes this museum from other museums of the city.