Nukus is host to the Nukus Museum of Art (also known as the State Art Museum of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, named after Igor V. Savitsky) and State Museum. The State Museum houses the usual collection of artifacts recovered from archaeological investigations, traditional jewelry, costumes and musical instruments, displays of the area's now vanished or endangered flora and fauna, and on the Aral Sea issue. The Art Museum is noted for its collection of modern Russian and Uzbek art from 1918-1935. Stalin tried his best to eliminate all non Soviet art from this period, and sent most of the artists to the gulag. Both Savitsky himself and the collection at Nukus survived because the city's remoteness limited the influence and reach of Soviet authorities. The documentary film The Desert of Forbidden Art is all about the collection and its history.
The name Nukus comes from the old tribal name of the Karakalpaks, Nukus. Nukus developed from a small settlement in 1932 into a large, modern Soviet city with broad avenues and big public buildings by the 1950s.
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