The Center was founded by Kairat Boranbayev and is based at the premises of the Soviet-built Tselinny (“Virgin Lands”) cinema theatre. Reconstruction of the cinema is to begin in late 2018 under the direction of the British architect Asif Khan, who aims to transform the building into a multifunctional space. After the final opening in 2020, the Tselinny will focus its efforts on the study and representation of processes taking place in the fields of contemporary culture and the arts, as well as social processes and developments in the humanities and STEM disciplines.
The Tselinny was built in 1964 to a standard design for panoramic cinemas (by architect S. Rozenblyum, adapted to the specific location by V. Katsev, B. Tyutin, and the engineer V. Semyonov), and immediately became one of the most popular recreation venues of the inhabitants of Soviet Alma-Ata (recording visitor numbers in 1982 of over two million people). Facing Alma-Ata’s very own "Broadway", the unique visual image of the Tselinny film theatre with its foyer’s luminous glass facade was given form thanks to the gigantic sgraffito work by the artist Yevgeny Sidorkin, visible from the street, which depicts races, dances and various genre scenes. In the first decade of the 21st century the cinema was rebuilt for use as a nightclub, remaining a popular urban leisure spot. In 2018, during the adaptation of the building for exhibition projects, Sidorkin’s original artwork, thought to have been lost, was rediscovered.