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ART AND LITERARY-MEMORIAL MUSEUMS IN SAINT PETERSBURG

The flat on Moika Embankment is the last place where an outstanding Russian poet Alexander Pushkin lived. He accommodated the flat with his family from October 1836 till January 29, 1837. It was the flat Pushkin left for his fatal duel with Dantes. In the study of the flat Pushkin died on January 29 (February 10, New Style), 1837 at 14.45 Moscow time.

 

The building was constructed in 1720s and reconstructed at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The flat where Pushkin and his family lived was in the dress circle of the mansion. It was here, in the study that the poet finished his "Capitan's Daughter", worked on the "Peter the Great Chronicles" and wrote his last poem. In the study of the memorial flat the visitors can see the collection of over 4,000 volumes in different languages, Pushkin's desk and the armchair, as well as the poet's personal belongings, such as the ink, the pen, the waistcoat Pushkin was wearing on the day of the duel. The exposition of the museum features Pushkin's death mask and the medallion with a curl of his hair. The flat is decorated with portraits of Pushkin, his friends and relatives. In the flat one can see furniture, tableware and accessories typical for the poet's epoch. Some of them belonged to Pushkin's family.

 

Tsarist government didn't favor the poet during his life and after his death strove to consign to oblivion all the facts connected with him. That's why the museum on Moika Embankment appeared only in 1925 under the Soviets. Naturally the apartment had changed a lot for the century that had passed since the time Pushkin lived there.

 

In 1987 after the painstaking reconstruction work based on the rough plan drafted by Zhukovsky after Pushkin's death and the memorials of poet's contemporaries, the original look of the flat was reconstructed. The masters even managed to restore a part of the gala staircase. In 1950 in the yard of the mansion the monument to Alexander Pushkin sculptured by N. Didikin was established. The mansion also features a memorial plaque reminding that it was the place where one of the greatest poets in the world history lived and died.

 

The tradition of literary and musical evenings held in Pushkin's flat has been maintained for many years. February 10 is a special memorial day for the museum. Annually on this day one minute silence honors the memory of the Great Russian poet. Nowadays the Pushkin Memorial Museum is the only one of this kind in Saint Petersburg. Literary and historical exhibitions held in the museum chart poet's life and work, tell about the tragic duel and the last days of his life and picture the broad panorama of Pushkin's epoch - the beginning of the 19th century.

Located at Universitetskaya Embankment 17, the Russian Academy of Fine Arts Museum hosts one of the most unique art collections not only in Russia, but throughout the whole world. The academy has a long history as it was founded in the mid 18th century and has been fully functional ever since. The academy hosts some of the greatest drawings, engravings and paintings from artists from Russia and Western Europe. 

 

The academy was built between the years of 1764 to 1772 and it represents an amazing monument to early Russian Classicism. The academy has three floors with awesome exhibitions of some of the greatest works of art from Russia and Europe. If you are an art lover, a visit to the Russian Academy of Fine Arts Museum is a must to see. The first floor has great pieces of antique sculptures, monuments from the 18th century and other great works from the 18th and 19th centuries. 

 

The second floor of the academy hosts an exhibition to the history of the Russian artistic school. This floor has works that relate to the study and training program of students in the academy throughout the years and also some works that were created by past students. Losenko, Bryullov, Brodsky, Chistyakov, Shubin, Kozlovsky, Shchedrin and Antokolsky - all have works of art on the second floor of the academy.

 

The third floor has the exhibition called, "St. Petersburg Architecture of the 18th-19th centuries in Patterns, Paintings and Drawings". This floor holds the architectural information and artifacts from Smolny Cathedral, St. Isaacs Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Palace and the Stock Exchange are on display.

 

The Russian Academy of Fine Arts Museum is a definite stop to any art lover who lives or visits St. Petersburg. Those who come are sure to leave happy. Come and see great art pieces and history of St. Petersburg and Europe.

The building of the museum was created by the architect A.Melnikov in 1838. In November 1930 the museum was founded by the order of the Soviet Government as a Department of the Arctic Research Institute called the Arctic Museum, based on exhibits and material on Polar Exhibitions which were held in Leningrad, Moscow, and Arkhangelsk during 1923. The doors were opened for visitors in January 1937.

 

During the Second World War the museum was closed and evacuated to Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. In March of 1950 the doors of the museum were opened again for visitors. Since 1958, after the commencement of Antarctic exploration and research by the Russians, the new Department of Antarctica was amalgamated with that of the Arctic to become "The Arctic and Antarctic Museum".

 

In February 1998 according to a decree of the Government of Russian Federation the museum became "The Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic".

 

The Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic is the only museum of its kind in Russia. It is one of the largest ones in the World devoted to the discovery and history of exploration, natural environment, and the economy and culture of the polar regions of the planet. It is the only one in the World having both Arctic and Antarctic expositions. Nowadays the museum collection contains near 75,000 exhibits of which many are unique and date back to the XVI century.

 

During more than 60 years of its work the museum organized more than 300 exhibitions in Russia and internationally. During these years more than 6 million visitors enjoyed the collections of the Museum. The Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic with its unique expositions become an integral part of the cultural life of St. Petersburg and Russia.

 

The numismatic collection of the Museum contains 4000 pieces including the coins dated back to XVI - XVII centuries, honor medals used to award polar explorers of the USSR, Norway, the USA and other countries. A unique collection consisting of 15 medals to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Tchelyuskin Epopee and devoted to the polar pilots - the heroes of the USSR are also on display.

 

One of the most interesting displays of the museum is the Polar Philatelic Collection. So soon as people came to the Arctic and Antarctic the post offices were organized. Envelopes, Post cards sent from different expeditions became the important documents of the polar history. All countries participating in polar explorations issued hundreds of stamps devoted to the polar explorers and scientists, ice breakers and research vessels, the landscapes and wild life of the Arctic and Antarctic. These envelopes, post cards and stamps are involved in the collections of the world famous philatelists. Some of the best examples of the Polar philately are displayed in the museum.

The Central Museum of Railway Transport of Russia is situated in St.Petersburg University of construction and means of communications. The Museum is housed in the building, which was specially built for it in 1902.

 
Nowadays the Museum collections reflect the history of all components of railway transport: locomotives and carriages; communication, automation and means structures. There are unique models of steam engines, carriages, bridges, some of them being displayed at the international exhibitions in the XIX and beginning of the XX century, in particular in construction in Russia and the former USSR and about the formation and development of railway technology.

 
The Museum's materials are widely used by historians, researchers, fans, film and TV studios.

 
Education is one of the most important trends in the Museum work. Young people and students make about 70% of the visitors. They visit the Museum to make acquaintence with the laws of physics, chemistry and mechanics; to choose a profession, a place of future studies. The Club of Railway History and Engineering work under the auspices of the Museum. Meetings and temporary exhibitions enlarge the number of the Museum's visitors.

 
Museum is the scientific and methodological centre in the work with minor museums of railway transport and enterprises of the Minisry of Railways of Russia, half of them being visited by our museum stuff. The Museum assists them in methodology of exhibition set up, historical materials, conducts consultations and work on creating the data bank of railway science and engineering monuments preserved on the Russian railway network.

 
Museum organizes up to 16 temporary exhibitions per year in schools, colleges, at the railways of Russia and abroad. The Museum has a branch of "Russian bridgebuilding" and there is a site with authentic locomotives.

In 1973 in Leningrad it was decided to establish a new exhibition hall in the former building of the Horse Guards Manege. To recreate the original image of the building erected in 1804 - 1807 to the design of outstanding architect Giacomo Quarenghi the large-scale reconstruction works were carried out. The Manege, the last and most perfect creations of the prominent architect, was built as a part of the barrack complex of Lifeguard of Konniy (Horse) regiment and was meant for horse training. Sometimes the Manege also served as a venue for solemn occasion and military parades.

 

The strict classical building perfectly blended with the ensembles of Isaac and Senat Squares. The magnificent eight-pillared portico with massive pediment and wide granite stairs adorn the main facade facing the Saint Isaac Cathedral. The sculptural bas-relief, performed by A.Triscorny to the design by Quarenghi, represents the awarding of horseracing winners. In 1861 on the both sides of the main facade the reduction of marble antique Dyoskurs (the original ones are standing in Rome), were placed. These sculptural groups occupy a special place in the collection of the masterpieces of Saint Petersburg monumental plastic art and became recognizable symbols of the city on the Neva River. Originally the Manege had only one big hall meant for the horse training and several utility rooms.

 

In 1930 the building was adapted to a garage: the hall was divided into two levels and ramps leading to the first floor were constructed. The Central Exhibition Hall has been known among the citizens under the name Manege. The first exhibition in the new exhibition hall was held in 1977. Named "Art belongs to people" it represented works of contemporary Leningrad painters.  Nowadays with the exhibition space of 465 square meters, it is the largest exhibition hall in Saint Petersburg. The Manege houses all kinds of noncommercial exhibitions: retrospective exhibitions, exhibition of the modern arts, series of exhibitions, monographic exhibitions, etc. The Central Exhibition Hall familiarizes the citizens and guests of the city not only with the works of Russian painters and sculptors but also with the creativity of foreign artists. It collaborates a lot with the artists, art historians and collectors from Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. The Manege doesn't limit itself with exhibitions: regularly meetings with artists, art seminars, concerts of classical and modern music, music show and presentation are held. The annual exhibition "Petersburg", representing new works of Petersburg artists, is especially popular with the citizens and guests of the city. There the creative life of the city is presented comprehensively: paintings, sculptures, drawings, and works of applied art, installations, performances and video.

The number of the participants is about 500.  Since 1996 the Manege has annually organized the Festival of Experimental Arts and Performances.

 

Nowadays it the only forum of the latest art and technology trends, where in one showroom different works of Russian and foreign artists and scientists of the 3d millennium are presented. The visitors can see all kinds of performance, video and photo installation, electronic technology, know-how, etc. For two years the Manege has been collecting works of prominent Russian artists, giving preference to the works that are characteristic of specifically Leningrad and Saint Petersburg art, rather than the art of Russia in general. This collection is to form the basis of the future Museum of Contemporary Art of Saint Petersburg. The collection already numbers about 2 thousand items, among them there are paintings, graphics, sculptures, works of applied art, installations and art objects.

The Russian Ethnographic Museum was founded in 1901 as a branch of the Russian Museum. The right wing of the Mikhailovsky Palace was rebuilt in 1900-1911 by architect V. Svinyin in neoclassicism style for the collections of the Ethnographic Department. The basic expositions consisting of the materials gathered before the Revolution of 1917 were opened to the public in 1923. In 1934 the Ethnographic Museum started to function as an independent one. Later its collections were enlarged, and after the World War II the museum got its modern name.

 

The Ethnographic Museum's collections are displayed in 24 halls. These contain ceramics, textiles, jewelry, metal and wooden works, national costumes, as well as different attributes of rituals and festive ceremonies. The museum also boasts numerous photos that help visitors to visualize calendar, wedding, funeral and other rites, many of which are of magic character. The visitors can see with their own eyes typical buildings of different regions of Russia. Sectional houses of the population of Central Asia, small many-tier stone buildings of Caucasian mountains, timber houses and more constructions are on display. The majority of the models are full-sized.

 

The special storeroom of the museum contains national jewelry, objects of cult and armory made of precious metal, pearl, precious and semiprecious stones. The majority of the exhibits are really unique as the secrets of their making, which had been carefully guarded by the masters of the past and handed down from the teacher to the pupil, unfortunately were lost.

If you ask in any country of the world "What Russia is associated with" the answer is sure to be "with vodka". And indeed, vodka is the most famous attribute of Russian culture. Living in severe climate of the North, the Russians always loved to drink a glass of vodka accompanied by good zakuska (hoer's d'oeuvres) "for to get warm". Vodka has always been an indispensable part of Russian life; with it people commemorate the most important events, for example, weddings, departures on a long trip, a birth of a baby, or a funeral repast. There were even periods in Russian history, when a bottle of vodka became a kind of national currency, which was used to pay for all sorts of small services, and this way of payment was preferable to cash payments.

 

On the whole, vodka in Russia is really a unique cultural phenomenon that is worth scientific research studies. The first vodka museum in Russia and in the whole world was opened on the Day of the City, May 27, 2001, in the very heart of St. Petersburg. Unlike other exhibitions of this kind that are usually just screens for shops, the museum in Saint Petersburg was organized according to the all museum canons. Unique exhibits, interesting facts and a tasting room - all these will help you not only to penetrate deeper in Russian history but also to understand mysterious Russian soul. It is interesting that Russians have been drinking vodka not always, as many people think, but since the middle of the 15th century.

 

The word "vodka" appeared in the 17th century and is most likely to be a derivative of "voda" (water). Before that other names were used for the drink: wine (bread wine), korchma or korchma wine, distilled wine, burning wine, burnt wine and bitter wine, etc. The ancestor of vodka, a strong drink called "aqua vitae" (Latin for "water of life"), is supposed to have been first brought to Russia by Genoese merchants on their way to Lithuania. However, the new foreign drink didn't become popular - at that time the Russian preferred mead and beer. In 1429 "aqua vitae" again appeared in Russia, for this time as a universal medicine, a sort of panacea from all the illnesses. This time vodka was estimated at its true worth. In the middle of the 15th century monks of Moscow monasteries started producing Russian vodka, made from grain, which was abundant in Russia.

 

The manufacturing of Russian vodka developed so rapidly that soon the country began to export "burning wine". At the end of the 15th century wise and sagacious tsar Ivan the Third introduced a state monopoly on the production and selling of vodka. Thus the history of vodka in Russia began. The guides will tell you about the first drinking houses, explain what the difference between kabaks and tractirs. You'll know what chekushka is, and how big the traditional Russian cup (charka, cheporuha) is. The staff of the Museum satisfy the curiosity of all those interested in the personal preferences of the Russian emperors in alcoholic drinks. The larger part of the Museum's collection is devoted to the 20th century. The attitude of Soviet power to the most popular alcoholic drink, "Commissar's 100 Grams", Soviet folklore, Gorbachev's dry law - the guides will tell you in details about these and other interesting events.  In one of the museum halls the interior of a typical Russian Tractir (restaurant) has been carefully recreated. There you are offered to taste the best sorts of vodka and traditional zakuski like salted cucumbers and mushrooms or pan cakes with sturgeon or salmon caviar. The Tractir also invites all the guests to enjoy food prepared according to the Cook Book published in 1887. Right in the museum you can buy original souvenirs to testify your visit to this extraordinary establishment and please your friends. The best sorts of Russian vodka, ornamental matrioshkas, gzel and ceramic coverings, exclusive sets of crystal and metal vodka shot glasses are just some of the gifts available for purchase.

The State Russian Museum is the first national museum of fine arts, built in 1895 in St.Petersburg by the order of the emperor Nikolay 2. The best exposition of the museum is showed in the Mikhaylovsky Palace and in the Benua. Here you can find many works of Russian famous painters, such as Rublev, Bruni, Kiprienskiy, Repin, Vrubel, Shishkin and many others. It is also the largest place in the world where all the best Russian exhibits are gathered. Works of art with different tendencies, started from 10th to 20th centuries are represented in the museum. It is a treasury of unique artistic values. The main expositions are located in the Mikhaylovsky Palace and in the Benya building. Artistic values are also located in Marble and Stroganov Palaces, in Summer Garden of Peter the Great. Over 50 exhibitions can take place at these territories at one moment. Sometimes these exhibitions take place in different Russian cities and abroad as well.

 

It was the Emperor Nikolay 2, who has written an order to build a museum in honour of his dad Alexander 2. Its opening took place on the 7 March in 1899. It was the first national museum of Russian fine arts. The basement of the collection was the first 80 paintings from the Hermitage, 120 paintings from the Artistic Academy and 200 from country Palaces. They were situated in the Mihalovskiy Palace; this unique collection was created with exhibits, bought at auctions and by means of private property.

 

The Mihalovskiy Palace was built in 1819 1825 by the architect Rossi for the Emperor Pavels son named Mikhail Pavlovich. Building of the Mikhaylovsky Palace started when Mihail was 21. Rossi was a talented architect; he added a complex that depicted the look of St.Petersburg city. Rossi has also built Mikhaylovsky Street and connected Mikhaylovsky Square with Nevsky Avenue. Later the Palace was bought out and given to the Russian Museum of the Emperor Alexander 3.

 

In 1914 the area of the Mihalovskiy Palace was not enough to hold exhibits and in 1917 by the project of architect Benua, a new building was built on the Griboedov sea front. Nowadays on the first floor of the Benua building you can find works of Soviet art, on the second works of art from the second half of 19th to the beginning of 20th century. In 1917 lots of national cultural values were added to this collection.

 

While the Great Patriotic War the Mikhaylovsky Palace and the Benua building suffered a lot from shooting attacks. But after the renovation in May of 1946 the State Russian Museum was opened for visitors. Nowadays the State Russian Museum participates in different exhibitions and international auctions, having the main purpose to get the best and most valuable works of art. The collection changes and enriches day by day. Ancient Russian graphic arts, visual arts of 18th-20th centuries, sculptures, paintings, prints, numismatics, water-color paintings, subjects of national usage, modern oil paintings can be found in the museum nowadays.

 

To the most precious artifacts of the museum include monuments of Ancient Russia, counting more than 18.000 of exhibits. This is a collection of family copies of middle-aged frescoes and collection of ancient sewing, icons. The same unique is the collection of oil paintings by Levizky, Rokotov, Brullov, Aivazovsky and many others.

 

In Soviet years the collection of the State Russian Museum was enriched by many modern works of art. In the section of modern art you can find the works of Moiseenko, Oreshnikova, Muhinoi, Anikushina, Favorskogo, Kibrika and many others. A walk in the State Russian Museum is a classical trip through the Russian history. The best icons, such as Rubleva, Repina, Vasnecova, Vrubela, Surikova, Levitana, Serova and many others, are represented also. Every year over 30 modern exhibitions take place in the museum.

 

So, the Russian Museum is a truly unique museum. It is considered to be unique because it was the first museum of fine arts, it has a unique collection, unique buildings and architecture, the place where it is situated. The Russian Museum is a real pride of Russian Culture.

Located only a block away from the Mikhailovsky Castle and the Field of Mars, the Applied Art Museum is little known and rarely included in tourist itineraries. Yet the museum, which was established to provide education and stimuli to future generations of Russian artists and designers, is a real treasure for anyone interested in the fine arts and antiques. Its collection of over 30 thousand exhibits includes various decorative arts and crafts, including furniture, porcelain, chandeliers, tiled stoves, artistic metalwork, bass relieves and carvings.

 

The museum was established in 1878 as a part of the Baron Stieglitz School of Technical Drawing, which in the 20th century evolved into the Artistic Industrial Academy.

 

The museum's building is a masterpiece in its own right and was built in eclectic style by the architect Maximilian Mesmacher, specifically to house the museum's collection. The building's huge Grand Hall, incorporating an impressive glass roof, recently underwent an extensive program of restoration. Some of the museum's elegant smaller halls, including the Antique, Medieval and Ancient Russian rooms are definitely worth a look even if you don't plan on staying to browse through the museum's main collections.

 

Finding the museum tucked away on the premises of the Academy can be quite a challenge! Visitors need to take the main entrance into the Academy, located at Solyanoy Pereulok 13, then go up the grand staircase, turn right, walk along the corridor and take the first narrow staircase on your left down to the next floor. The museum's entrance is on the lower landing of the staircase and the ticket counter is just on the left as you walk in. As with most Russian museums, all visitors are asked to leave coats and larger bags in the cloakroom. Don't be surprised to see dozens of students throughout the museum and the Academy, busy sketching the museum's exhibits as well as the magnificent building in which they are housed.

 

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