There is certainly no shortage of museums in Moscow, but the largest and most visited of them all is almost never in the museum lists…
The Moscow Metro is pretty awesome. Its numbers are mind boggling, for starters. Over 400 km of track and close to 250 stations, served by over 10.500 trains for close to 2.5 billion passengers every year. Almost every station has its own personality and a huge number looks spectacular and are full of interesting artwork depicting various aspects of Russian and Soviet history and culture. Take for instance the Komsomolskaya station pictured about. The ceiling is adorned by eight large mosaics by Russian artist Pavel Korin with scenes of the most important historical Russian fight for freedom and independence, from Alexander Nevsky after the Battle on the Ice in 1242 to the victory over nazi Germany in 1945. I am sure there will be a substantial number of blog posts on Moscow metro stations because so many of them are stunning and interesting. That is why the metro itself is often considered a veritable museum. Sort of like an “open air museum”, although the vast majority of it is actually deep underground. The “admission ticket” costs 55 Rubles (about 80 cents) and you even get to ride the trains. If you are a “frequent visitor” you can get a card and every entrance/ride will cost you just 35 Rubles (about 50 cents).
Photography is generally welcome in the underground, with few restrictions. Technically the use of a tripod is not allowed. It is an awful idea to try to use a tripod during rush hour as you would impede the passage of people but (don’t tell anyone!) it is often “tolerated” during off-peak. Of course it is a huge advantage if you speak good Russian (or you are accompanied by someone who does) and can talk to any policeman or security guard that comes to “see what you are doing”.
My photo-tip is to avoid “middle of the range” focal lengths, if you can. Either go wide (like I did for the picture above) or go long and focus on some detail. The light is generally pretty good (and of course it never changes), but another advantage of using a wide-angle is that allows you to use slower shutter speeds and therefore either stop-down a bit to get the optimum sharpness or keep you ISO nice and low to contain noise. You can see the above picture larger at The World Photos.
If you are planning to visit Moscow and you’d like a tour of the best metro stations, accompanied by a photographer and a native speaker (myself and my wife), do get in touch and we’ll make this plan come to life!