The Scene: A post-Perestroika bloom of experimental art and theater against a backdrop of traditional architecture flourishes.
The Signature: For an introduction to Kazakh culture, visit the National Museum, which stands across from the presidential palace and offers exhibits on Kazakh art and history. Afterward visit idyllic Panfilov Park to see St. Ascension Cathedral, which is one of the largest wooden structures in the world built entirely without nails.
Insider Knowledge: The theater scene is where the most interesting, cutting-edge art is happening. Catch a show at Art & Shock Theatre (49/68 Kunayev St.), the internationally acclaimed conceptual theater group, or visit Lermontov Russian Drama Theatre (43 Abai Ave.; 7-727/267-3131), which stages Russian plays Tuesday to Sunday and turns the theater into an exhibit space for local contemporary artists on Mondays.
Don’t Miss: An exhibit at Arvest Art Gallery (75/78 Bogenbay Batira St.; arvest.kz), which opened five years ago and has quickly become the contemporary arts center of the city.