A proposal for the new public space on the former Tram Depot territory
In the autumn of 2016, Almaty Development Center held a competition for the best concept of a new public space on the former Tram Depot territory. The goal of the competition was to create a comfortable, popular, and practical space for the residents. Applications were accepted until October 2, 2016. Following that, online voting took place from October 3 until October 16 and, according to the rules of the competition, the Expert Commission took the final decision. Once the results were announced, the finalists defended their projects in front of city administration representatives.
Upon its completion, Almaty Development Center as well as the general public gave their feedback on the competition, and the finalists' projects were modified in line with the suggestions. The competition and its surrounding public discussion revealed a severe shortage of cultural and scientific public spaces. Consequently, two creative initiatives – Polytechnic Museum of Almaty and ART DEPOT – decided to unite to create a unique public space in Almaty. The new project, named the Art & Science Museum, incorporated all the latest trends in art and science development.
The finalists went through two approval stages: the technical and public councils under Almaty city administration. On June 28, 2017, the public council of Almaty, chaired by R. A. Alshanov, decreed that the Art & Science Museum project at the former Tram Depot was not necessary and, instead, expressed a preference for the DEPO Evolution Park multifunctional complex, a project with lower costs, based on their estimations.
However, the reasoning appeared to be questionable, since the Art & Science Museum required 660 million tenge from the city budget (the remaining funds would be covered by private investments), while the approved multifunctional complex cost over 1 billion tenge.
While discussing the projects, the council members noted the acute shortage of museums and museum spaces in our city that bears the unofficial title of the cultural capital of Kazakhstan. In addition, the Art & Science Museum project was lauded for its innovation and its concurrence with the world's educational and outreach trends. The council members also emphasized the need to support arts and sciences in accordance with the course set by the head of our state Nursultan Nazarbayev, outlined in his recent article "The Course towards the Future: Modernization of Public Consciousness". The president of Kazakhstan urged for a"cult of knowledge" and the promotion of a"modern Kazakhstani culture in the global world".
In the recent years, a large number of entertainment, commercial, administrative and residential facilities have been built in Kazakhstan, mainly in Almaty. Unfortunately, there were no cultural and scientific objects among them. The Art & Science Museum could have started a new, countrywide trend.
The museum would have represented the first crowd-funding project of such scale in Central Asia, encouraging donations from patrons of art. While a usual practice in developed countries, it would have formed a new habit for businessmen in Kazakhstan, wherein they could invest their earnings into the future of the country. A flexible sponsor enlistment scheme involving the government was developed. The plan ensured the sustainability of the museum, its development and the attraction of financial resources from Kazakh diasporas from all over the world, not just within the country.
The Art & Science Museum is:
A place where our country's scientific and technological heritage in symbiosis with the cultural heritage would be preserved and demonstrated;
A place where the youth would develop an interest for arts and sciences;
A place of enlightenment where people of all ages would nurture ideas of nature and beauty of things;
A new, unique, and comfortable space available to everyone;
A new tourist attraction in Almaty;
A booster of international prestige: the museum would place Almaty on par with the most advanced capitals of the world.
The relevance of the project:
The project aims to improve the quality of life and meet the needs of Almaty citizens. Hence, the two components, arts and sciences, that complement each other in the best possible way.
Arts and sciences were born from humanity's thirst for knowledge. In essence, they are just different sides of our yearning to discover the world around us and ourselves. Science studies the world through logic, while art – through emotional reflection.
The new space is designed to address the lack of quality leisure activities in the city, while also creating an infrastructure that would aid the realization of creative and intellectual potential of its inhabitants.
The museum space includes:
Main scientific and technological exhibition
Main art exhibition
Temporary exhibition and event space
Experimentarium (for scientific and technological experiments)