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Many major exhibitions of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts are remembered by visitors not only as events of cultural and public life, but also as milestones of their own biographies.

The Museum opened its first exhibition in 1914. However, the peak of development of its exhibitions started in the 2nd half of the 20th century with the famous exhibition “Masterpieces of the Dresden Picture Gallery,” which opened in 1955. Just like the most famous museums holding international art exhibitions, such as the Louvre, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc., the Pushkin Museum contributed to the cultural rapprochement of nations and the defusing of international tensions. At the same time, during the period of ideological taboos in art, it fell to this Museum to demonstrate the great achievements of the world's artistic culture in its best works, both classical and avant-garde, to several generations of Soviet people.

The most important exhibitions of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts were “Paintings, Drawings and Ceramics by Pablo Picasso” (1956), “Art of Mexico from Ancient Times to Date” (1960), “Treasures of Tutankhamun's Tomb” (1973), “Moscow — Paris. 1900–1930” (1982), “Marc Chagall. For the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of the Artist” (1987), “Etruscan World” (1900 and 2004), “Moscow — Berlin. 1900–1950” (1996), “Andy Warhol” (2001), “Claude Monet and Marcel Proust” (2001), “Russia — Italy. Through the Centuries. From Giotto to Malevich” (2005), “Meeting Modigliani” (2007), “Chanel. Under the Laws of Art” (2007), “Turner. 1775–1851” (2008), “Alberto Giacometti” (2008), and many others.

A number of the world's masterpieces have been displayed in the Museum, including “La Gioconda” by Leonardo da Vinci (1974), Titian's “Venus of Urbino” (2000), “St. Sebastian” by Antonello da Messina (2006), and “Antea” by Parmigianino (2008).

The Museum organizes temporary exhibitions at a number of its venues, including the main building, the Department of Private Collections, the Gallery of 19th and 20th Century European and American Art, and the Mouseion Children's Educational Center. A significant feature of the Museum's exhibition strategy is the combination of different genres: exhibitions of collections, as well as exhibitions based on themes, publications, and interpretations, which cover the whole range of the Museum's collections and go beyond it in demonstrating relevant cultural and art phenomena.