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The Russian Museum, the Perfect Attraction for the Art Lovers
November 27, 2012 21:28

The main building of the Russian Museum (Source:

by Irina Kirilov

A lot of people worldwide choose Russia as their vacation destination because they love art and history, and this country is ready to satisfy their love for beautiful things. And everyone agrees that Russia has all the right to boast with some of the most interesting, large and rich museums in the entire world.

The Russian Museum is just one of the numerous examples. It is considered to be the ideal place for those of you who are interested in art, starting from the 12th century and going all the way up till the mid 20th century. It’s the largest art museum in St. Petersburg, and it was formerly known as the Russian Museum of His Imperial Majesty Alexander III.

The Museum was established back in 1895, when Nicolas II was enthroned, in order to commemorate his father - Alexander III. When many of the private collections were nationalized, they were brought here at the Russian Museum. Nevertheless, the Museum is fascinating not only for the collections that are kept inside it, but also for its wonderful architecture.

As an example, the main building of the museum, which was the residence of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich, is a neoclassical palace that was built between 1819 and 1825. When the Duke died, the residence was given the name of his wife, thus becoming the Palace of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna.

The palace gained in popularity due to the numerous theatrical shows and balls organized there. The building was bought by the Russian government at the end of the 19th century, and later on it became the Russian Museum. Not too many years ago, a new wing was added to the museum, due to the constantly increasing number of collections and works of art.

The other buildings that belong to the museum are the summer Palace of Peter I, the marble Palace of Count Orlov, St Michael’s Castle of Emperor Paul and the Stroganov Palace.

The Russian Museum of Ethnography was first meant to be a depository of all the gifts that the emperor received from people living in the entire Russian Empire. Tzar Nicolas II continued the tradition, also buying new exhibits on a regular basis. Then, in 1934 the Museum got independent and was referred since then as the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

The Museum exhibits works of art signed by all major artists in Russia. The painting galleries are the ones attracting the most attention and interest, and thus the larger crowds of visitors. The painting collection was always the most treasured attraction; it was around it that the other collections gathered in time. Nowadays sculpture, graphics, decorative objects and applied art have gained a similar importance.

During the major wars Russia was involved in, the collections were moved either to Moscow or to the hinterland of the Soviet Union; this is the reason why not only the paintings, but all the works of art survived the wars perfectly. Soon after the end of World War II, after the restoration of some of its buildings that were affected by the bombardment, the museum reopened (in 1946) and only six months later, all the precious art pieces were back in place. Although numerous additions were made, the Russian Museum has kept its specific, as contemporary art, although present, has not received first priority.

The art lovers that choose to visit the Museum will learn how the artistic ideas and the culture itself have developed throughout the centuries. As an example, the icon collection is considered to be one of the most representatives in the entire Russia. The first piece in the collection was bought in 1898, and the pieces that were acquired in 1900 and 1910 are of immense artistic value. Many other icons were brought in directly from the churches and monasteries that are spread all over the country. During the early 1950s and 1970, many trips were organized, in an effort to gather as many works of Russian Art as possible. Due to these efforts, nowadays there are about 6,000 icons that can be admired in the Russian Museum.

Another interesting collection that found its place in the Museum is the collection of numismatics. The first coins were brought in 1897, consisting of coins and medals that were minted during the reign of Alexander III. Even today, coins and medals are added to the museum and numismatists from all over the world come here to admire the 70,000 coins gathered until now.

There are many organized Museum tours every day, and it is important to know that special Museum tours destined for kid are also available. In fact, the Museum is well known for creating theme tours for the kids, who are thus making contact with the wonderful world of art.

 For information on the opening hours and current events, visit Russian Museum's official English website.

 Irina Kirilov is a blogger for Thrifty Romania, a car rental company that represents Dollar Thrifty Rentals in Bucharest, Romania. 


Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian Museum of Art St. Petersburg Russian museums guest author  

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