The Fine Art Museum of Krasnodar was founded by Fyodor Kovalenko. It is located in Pushkin Square, at the very beginning of Krasnaya (Red) Street. It is one of the oldest museums in the Caucasus region. However, for a long time it represented only the collection of F. Kovalenko who displayed it at various places of Yekaterinodar (former name of Krasnodar city).
Fyodor Akimovich Kovalenko was born in a peasant family on May 16, 1866. In 1881 his family moved to Yekaterinodar. Already as a boy he began to work as an errand boy at the grocery store of the merchant Pyatkov. Later he became a cashier at that store. About that time he began to put together his collection. At first the collection contained only cheap books, engravings and pictures but already in 1890 it presented a certain interest and his owner displayed it for the first time.
Kovalenko began to correspond with an Italian artist Giuseppe Parini who helped him to buy some copies of the works of Raphael and Piombo. Also, he bought the pictures of Russian painters in St. Petersburg. And at the beginning of 20 century Kovalenko established contacts with the Academy of Arts. Many painters including I. Repin and V. Polenov gave to his collection their pictures and engravings.
For several years Kovalenko displayed his collection in the building of the City Hall on Krasnaya (Red) Street but then he was denied the renewal of lease. In 1904 an engineer Batyrbek Shardanov built a luxurious mansion at the intersection of Krasnaya and Grafskaya (Count’s) streets. Kovalenko was able to arrange for his collection to be displayed on the first floor of that building. Since that time his collection has been there, and in the Soviet time it was also given the nearby building of Yekaterinodar State Bank.
In the Soviet time the collection was given the status of a state museum, and his directors managed to significantly increase its collection through new very valuable pictures and exhibits. In our days at the museum you can see very interesting collections of Russian painting of 17-19 centuries, Old Russian icon painting, watercolour, Japanese xylography and foreign painting.