Minneapolis art museum awarded by Putinwith Medal of Friendship

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Friendship to a Minnesota art dealer whose collections led to the founding of the only museum in North America dedicated solely to Russian art from the Soviet era.

In a statement, the Kremlin said Putin praised Raymond E. Johnson for his work in "developing Russian-American cultural partnership and strengthening friendships between the people."

Johnson's collection of Soviet Realist art, which he began acquiring after the 1991 Soviet collapse, makes up the core of the Museum of Russian Art, which reopened in May at its new home in south Minneapolis following a US$5.5 million (Ђ4.3 million) building project, the AP reports.

The museum's exhibitions have featured paintings from Moscow's famed Tretyakov Gallery, centuries-old Russian Orthodox icons as well as Soviet-era paintings from Johnson's collection. A.M.

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