The wholly unexpected and anomalous award of the prestigious European Council prize to the Krasnoiarsk Museum Center (Siberia) in 1998 for "contributing to the development of European ideas" caused a minor international sensation. A refurbished version of the former Lenin Museum, which opened during glasnost, the Museum Center became an experimental exhibition ground that showed remarkable imagination and resourcefulness in realizing the potential of an excellently equipped building, advantageous location, and enormous open spaces. Collaborating with lively local movements, the Center simultaneously imported traveling exhibits from other museums and arranged expositions that thematized its geographical identity. The two Biennials organized by the Center (1995, 1997) demonstrated the artistic rewards of integrating architecture and local territory into a novel conceptual product original enough to compete in the international cultural market.

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