Astana is a city on the rise – literally and figuratively. Its stunning modern architecture is rising from the vast Asian steppe as its international reputation as a center of regional trade and politics grows along side. The same is true of the city’s arts culture. The venues and the art you will find here reflect the history of Kazakhstan while pushing the boundaries of what came before.
Among the most stunning examples is Astana’s new Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall. This 3,500 seat hall sits inside a stunning turquoise blue building of swirling lines and changing vistas designed by Manfredi Nicoletti following an international design competition. It’s one of the largest halls of its kind in the world and is the setting for frequent performances ranging from visiting opera troupes to traditional Kazakh music.
Also reflecting Astana’s cutting edge arts culture is the city’s Modern Art Gallery. The gallery is located in the now iconic Palace of Peace and Harmony, often referred to as the Pyramid. This open-style granite and glazed glass pyramid was designed by renowned British architecture firm Foster and Partners and opened in 2006 to host the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. It’s a site to see in and of itself and its central point marks the exact center of the city. But the pyramid is also home to multiple art galleries where you can see the works of modern Kazakh painters such as K.V. Mullashev, Akanaev and Begalin. The main gallery includes more than 100 paintings and 19 sculptures.
More traditional arts can be found in the Maxim Gorky Russian Drama Theater. This theater was founded in 1899 and is one of the largest and most popular drama theaters in Central Asia. It regularly presents performances of William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Anton Chekhov, Nikolai Gogol and others.
Whether it is a taste of traditional performance, a glimpse into the mind of modern Kazakh artists or appreciation of the architecture of the art venues themselves, Astana offers a unique arts culture in the heart of the Asian Steppe.
Alzhir Memorial Museum of Victims of Political Repressions and Totalitarianism
On May the 31st, 2007, the Alzhir Museum opened at the location of the former Akmolinsky camp of “Wives of the traitors of the Motherland.” It memorializes the tragic events of Soviet rule, including the dark times of the 1930s – 1950s. The year 2007 was chosen as the museum’s opening date for its meaning to Kazakhstan and former Soviet countries. It was the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution and the 70th anniversary of the beginnings of the “mass political terror.” During this period 100,000 civilians innocent lost their lives. In Kazakhstan, every May 31st is a day of remembrance for the victims. The memorial complex is a moving experience with many exhibits. English language tours and translations are provided.
American Corners & Cultural Centres in Kazakhstan
“American Corner” has been launched at the National Academic Library in Astana, and it’s a gold mine for anyone, of any age, who is interested in practicing English and learning about the United States. You’ll find English-language collections of American fiction, and reference books on U.S. government, history, and culture. Visitors also can learn more via Internet access, audio recordings, and American films and documentaries. For English teachers, extensive materials and English-teaching curriculums are on hand. The centre also hosts myriad events and clubs for children and adults. Among them are a discussion & debate club, music club, reading club, movie viewing club, and Kids’ Hour. Also featured are local and U.S. guest lecturers dedicated to certain events. Regular Saturday events are: “Movie-nights” at 17.00; “Discussion Club” at 15.00; and “Reading club” at 16.00.
Open to the public.
Art Space Studio
The studio organizes art parties and master classes for everyone.
The gallery was opened in 2006 in Almaty and moved to Astana in 2014. It is now located in one of the buildings of the National Museum. More than 700 items of art objects – paintings and graphics from traditional classical to modern avant-garde are on display at the gallery. The gallery works in the format of a permanent exhibition-sale of paintings.
Astana Ballet Theater was founded in 2012 on the initiative of the Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev. The first performance of the Theater took place in July 2013 and it became clear immediately: the audience accepted the theater and fell in love. Today the team has thousands of fans not only in Kazakhstan, but also abroad. The unique multi-genre repertoire of the Theater is constantly replenished with masterpieces of world and national classics, original choreographic performances.
Astana Opera House
Enter the world of opera house with latest hi-tech equipment, Sicilian marble, gold leaves used for the decoration and magnificent structure. Whether you are here for a day or a week, flying solo or with your family, a new delightful opera house located in the heart of Eurasia opens its doors for all visitors. The building stands on the square on the left bank of Ishim River. The auditorium of Astana Opera House bathed in Italian fabric and decorative moldings is designed for 1,250 seats. The orchestra pit can accommodate up to 120 musicians. Opera House provides 26 spacious rehearsal rooms. The classical opera house of Astana is one of the major opera houses for its size in Central Asia with acoustics comparable to Milan’s La Scala.
Atameken: A Walking Map of Kazakhstan
Don’t have time to travel through all of Kazakhstan? Then stroll through the “Atameken,” a 1.7 hectare, outdoor map you can walk through that essentially is an outdoor museum feting the country’s history, culture and development. See miniaturizations of every Kazakh city, including famous buildings, cultural icons, markets, and mountains – even the famous Cosmodrome in Baikonur. Beautifully landscaped, this unique “ethnopark” reportedly is one of only 20 such exhibitions in the world.
Opened from the May till September
Astana Concert Hall
Astana Hall is the former Congrss hall and has been the high culture centre of the city for decades but now is also much more. Kazakhstan’s great heritage of classical music flourishes alongside the high spirits and bright energy of students and schoolchildren in a joyous spectrum of activity. No matter the day of the week you are sure to find something interesting at Congress Hall.
HYDRA Art Factory
Hydra is a new creative art space in the historic center of Tselinograd-Astana. It aims to connect exhibition sites, galleries, artists’ workshops, a museum and a place for creativity. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the view of the industrial heritage!
Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall
The Kazakhstan Concert Hall has two main auditoriums, one for film and another for the performing arts, such as concerts and ballet performances. The film theater can seat up to 3500 people. The concert hall has a wide orchestra pit, and back stage for theater, ballet and modern or classical concerts.
Kuanyshbayev State Academic Kazakh Music and Drama Theatre
The theatre was opened in 1991. It produces the perfromances written by great Kazakh writers and contemporary authors.
Kulanshi Art Space
Kulanshi Art Space is a joint project of ForteBank and the Kulanshi Center for Contemporary Art. The idea belongs to Bulat Utemuratov, the main shareholder of the bank, who in 2016 returned the Kazakh masterpieces to his homeland. The art gallery opens exhibitions of domestic and foreign artists every month. The permanent exhibition features printed graphic arts halls, where the originals of lithographs by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall are presented.
Kulanshi Modern Art Center
The Kulanshi Center has a collection that includes European masters such as Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.
This gallery of art, located in the Palace of Peace and Accord, is the place to see the work of modern Kazakh painters. It is divided into several galleries of different colors. The main gallery is yellow and has 100 paintings and 19 sculptures. Here you can see works of modern Kazakh painters, such as K. V. Mullashev, Akanaev and Begalin. The Palace of Peace and Accord in which the gallery is housed is also a sight to see in an off itself. The Palace of Peace and Accord is a unique glass and steel structure in the iconic symbol of the ages – a pyramid. It is the site of numerous international regilious gatherings and at is base it a point that forms the exact center of the capital city of Astana. Its is expecially beautiful from the outside when it is lit up at night.
Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
This museum is located in the president’s former residence and offers a unique insight into the birth of a nation and its progress through time. The exhibits reveal the most important stages in the formation of an independent Kazakhstan and talks about the life and work of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The interiors are intact and the museum collection of over 60,000 items includes souvenirs, books, archival manuscripts, printed materials, film and documentary photographs, works of fine and decorative arts, weapons, personal belongings and documents offered by the president.
The National Museum is the youngest and largest museum in Central Asia. The unique museum complex has an area of 74,000 sq.m. and consists of seven blocks with a variable number of storeys. Exhibit space occupies 14 rooms with a total area of over 14,000 sq.m. The museum is composed of the following halls: Hall of Astana, Hall of Independent Kazakhstan, Hall of Gold, Hall of Ancient and Medieval History, the Hall of History, Ethnography Hall, Halls of Modern Art. There are also facilities for a children’s museum, children’s art centre, two showrooms, restoration workshops, laboratories, professional depositories, a scientific library with a reading room, a conference hall and souvenir stalls. The museum is fitted out with equipment of international standard, one uses modern exhibition technology for expositions: a unique curved screen with a special content, working for two halls, a media floor, a dynamic layout of the central part of modern Astana, numerous media outlets, holograms, LED-technology, touch-sensitive kiosks, and a multimedia guide providing information in three languages.
Located near the railway station, this theater is an example late 19th Century architecture. Zhastar Theatre with a support of Astana city akimat (administration) gave its first-ever performance “Chingiz Khan” July 2007. There are more than 20 performances in its repertoire. The theare has received recognition for its quality productions in Kazakhstan and abroad. The concert hall is small, but has good acoustics and seats slightly more than 300 people.
Nur Alem Pavilion at EXPO
One of the most visited pavilions at EXPO 2017 opened its doors to visitors in late autumn. It is the only building in the world that represents a sphere of finished form of 80 meters in diameter. At the Nur-Alem Venue, the latest photovoltaic technologies are used that allow the generation of electricity without disturbing the futuristic design. The thematic concept of Nur Alem is presented as a “Museum of Future Energy” and consists of 8 floors. The tour starts from the 8th floor, which shows – Future Astana. There are also the Energy of Space, Solar Energy , Wind Energy, Biomass Energy, Kinetic Energy, Water Energy and the Pavilion of Kazakhstan, where it is divided into two main zones – the zone introducing Kazakhstan and the zone of “Creative Energy”.
The Palace of Independence
The Palace of Independence is used for official state functions, including forums, meetings and conventions. It includes the Gallery of applied art and ethnography, archeology and anthropology, a modern art Gallery, the Museum of City History of Astana. It also has two theaters; one is a 4D Cinema and the other a theater in 360 degrees. The Palace also includes an electronic library and a model gallery.
Palace of Peace and Harmony
The Palace of Peace and Accord is a great place to see amazing architecture and modern art. The building itself was designed by renowned architect Norman Foster and offers great views of the city. It also houses a souring three-level concert hall, a modern art gallery and is home to rotating exhibitions. It’s worth a visit.
Presidential Center of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan
The Presidential Center of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan is conveniently located at the edge of the Right Bank, and is easily accessible from the Left Bank. The museum boasts 143,000 artifacts related to Kazakh archeology, ethnography, history, culture and arts. The “Kazakh Ethnography” collection captures the traditional lifestyles of the Kazakh people and gives visitors a closer understanding of Kazakhstan’s past and present. History comes alive in displays such as a Kazakh yurt, furniture, tableware, clothing, jewelry and many more items. The most striking and valuable exhibit is a bride’s headpiece (saukele) made in the beginning of the 19th century. One of the most interesting collections is of 135 musical instruments on loan from B.A. Sarybaev. The museum also has a library with a collection of more than 700,000 items stored in various media, and a collection of rare books dated between the 17th and the 20th centuries.
The theatre was founded in 2010 but it didn’t have its own building. Now the theatre is located on the right bank of the Ishim River. The new building can accomodate up to 100 visitors and has 12 performances in its repertoire. The performances are held 3-4 times a week for children from 3 to 14.
The Russian Drama Theater named after Maxim Gorky
Although Astana is a young capital, it is also old enough to have a theater founded in 1899. Today it is one of the largest and most popular drama theaters, not only in Astana, but in all of Central Asia. It puts on an amazing number of performances for adults and children, including classic works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Gogol, Mrozhek and others.
The Saken Seifullin Museum
Saken Seifullin was a pioneer of modern Kazakh literature, poet and writer, and national activist. He penned controversial literature calling for greater independence of Kazakhs from Soviet and Russian power, and paid for it with his life. Deemed a “threat to the society” and a “nationalist,” Seifullin was executed in Almaty, in 1939. Today he is considered one of the most influential Kazakh thinkers of the 21st century, a major contributor to Kazakh culture and literature, and a martyr for freedom. The fascinating museum memorializes his works, but also serves as a research center. Opened in 1988, it’s now called one of the “historical and spiritual centres of Kazakhstan.”
Has Sanat Gallery
The Has Sanat Gallery has works of well known artists and emerging talent. The core of its collection is paintings of local Kazakh artists, including A. Sadykhanov, A. Akanayev and E. Tolepbay. The gallery also hosts traveling exhibits of work from Kazakhstan and abroad.
TSE Art Destination
TSE Art Destination, which combines a modern art gallery, educational centre and experimental art lab, seeks to make art an indispensable part of capital life. The first exhibit featured the work of Kazakh artist Almagul Menlibayeva, who works and lives in Almaty and Berlin.