The Department of Contemporary Art was opened at the Russian Museum in the late 1980s. The department collects and exhibits new and often unconventional art forms -- installations, objects, assemblages, video art, photography and photo-based art. Many works find their way into the collection directly from exhibitions. The first major acquisition was in 1990, following the Territory of Art show curated by the Russian Museum in collaboration with the Institut des Hautes Etudes et Arts Plastiques.
The Russian Museum not only displays modern art; it also plays a fundamental role in the contemporary art process. The museum has always aimed to be in the thick of events, reflecting the diversity of modern art in its own collection. One of the main tasks of the Russian Museum is now to fill in the gaps still existing in its collection, acquiring works that were either banned or officially frowned upon during the Soviet period.