115 Degrees of Russian History

115 Degrees of Russian History

Plans for future projects revealed on the 115th anniversary of The State Russian Museum’s founding.

Published: March 27, 2013 (Issue # 1752)


The Russian Museum will reopen the Stroganov Palace on Nevsky Prospekt this summer.

One hundred and fifteen years ago, on March 19, 1898, the first state museum of Russian art opened its doors in St. Petersburg. Today, the State Russian Museum is a unique repository of artistic treasures. Its collection contains more than 400,000 exhibits and covers the entire history of Russian art, from the 10th to the 20th century.

At a press conference on the museum’s anniversary last week, museum director Vladimir Gusev spoke about upcoming events, restoration work at the museum buildings and, of course, paid tribute to the museum’s longevity.

“The date is not round, therefore we celebrate it not with gala events, but with work,” said Gusev.

“Today’s main achievement is the developing dynamics of the Russian Museum, and this is clearly visible in our reports. This is not due to me, it’s due to the time with which we all have coincided. We have managed to restore and develop not only the Mikhailovsky Palace, but all of this huge complex, which is located in the historical center and approaches the size of the Vatican City,” he said.

Actually, the Russian Museum is one of the largest repositories of Russian fine art in the world. The museum complex encompasses the Stroganov Palace, the Mikhailovsky (Engineer’s) Castle, the Marble Palace and the Summer Garden, which includes the Summer Palace of Peter the Great.

This year the Summer Palace marks its 300th anniversary. Nevertheless, according to Gusev, the main thing is not the occasion, but the fact that the museum has received money to fund the first phase of restoration work, which will include design estimates and expert assessment of both buildings. This phase will complete the restoration of the Summer Garden complex, following last year’s reopening of the garden to visitors after two and a half years of being closed.

Additionally, the reconstructed Stroganov Palace and the two pavilions (guardhouses) of the Mikhailovsky Castle will reopen in early summer this year.

The Virtual Russian Museum, which has no analogue either in Russia or abroad, will be located in the western pavilion. The main idea of the project is to provide the public with an interactive demonstration of the unknown aspects of the museum’s activities and artistic work. The western pavilion will offer a new level of integration with the Russian Museum and its virtual branches.

The eastern pavilion will be dedicated to a project set up by the “Artdegardiya” children’s educational and recreational complex, focused on aiding the creative development of children and teenagers through the use of fine art and modern technologies.

A new initiative titled “The Russian Museum on Wheels” is also in the pipeline. One or two buses equipped with multimedia technology will be purchased, and will travel to remote settlements in the Leningrad Oblast, where experienced scholars of art will give presentations about Russian painting to local schoolchildren.

During the press conference, Gusev noted that the museum’s work is largely organized around sponsorship programs, and exhibitions abroad are held at the expense of the foreign museums in which they take place.

“Of course, the one who pays the piper calls the tune,” said Gusev. “But we always try to present our views and knowledge about Russian art,” he added.

Upcoming exhibitions of note to look out for at the museum include “Lamps of Old Russia” and “The 400th Anniversary of the Romanovs,” which will exhibit, among other works, Grigory Ugryumov’s monumental canvas “The Summoning of Mikhail Romanov to the Throne.”

The International Chess Tournament, held in memory of chess master Alexander Alekhine, and the sixth “Imperial Gardens of Russia” international festival of park and garden art will also take place at the Russian Museum this year.

For more information visit rusmuseum.ru.

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