A large-scale exhibition entitled Treasures from Tsarskoye Selo, Residence of the Russian Monarchs opens today at the Hong Kong Museum of History. The exhibition will run until March 16, 2015, showcasing more than 200 artefacts from Russia's Romanov dynasty, on loan from the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve.
Speaking at the opening ceremony yesterday, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, said that this exhibition represents a major collaboration between government museums in Russia and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong and Russian governments signed a memorandum of understanding on cultural co-operation in September 2011. Museum of History director Susanna Siu noted that it cost HK$17 million to organize the exhibition.
He pointed out that the Russian artefacts exhibition is the largest of its kind ever staged in Hong Kong. Hundreds of exhibits selected from the collections of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia are on display.
These include paintings, costumes, porcelain, works of art and a spectacular carriage. They will give a clearer picture of the history and culture of Russia and, in particular, evidence of the long-lasting exchanges between Russia and China.
The exhibition is jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia, with the Hong Kong Museum of History and the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia as the co-organisers. Solely sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, it is one of the exhibitions in the 2014 Hong Kong Jockey Club Series.
Tsarskoye Selo, a summer residence of the Russian monarchs, witnessed not only the birth of the Russian Empire in the 18th century, but also the end of its monarchy in 1917.
One of the exhibit highlights, a richly decorated carriage with harnesses used for the coronation of Emperor Alexander II in Moscow in 1856, has been loaned out by the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve of Russia for the first time.
Since the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913, the full set of carriage and harnesses has not been used again or put together for public viewing.
The Hong Kong Museum of History has taken this opportunity to showcase the full set of the artefacts with a view to introducing the splendour of the coronation of the Russian monarchs as well as the high standards of craftsmanship maintained by the imperial manufactories in Russia. Other highlights include decorative items from Tsarskoye Selo produced by imperial manufactories in Russia and diplomatic gifts presented to Russia from foreign royal houses.
In addition, visitors will be able to see Chinese artefacts, including an 18th century Guangdong lacquer vase presented to the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, in the name of the last emperor of China, Puyi, as well as Chinese-style works of art produced by imperial manufactories in Russia.
Beyond the attractive exhibits, multimedia programmes will also be available during the exhibition period. For instance, the Catherine Palace, one of the palaces in Tsarskoye Selo, will be presented in a 360-degree virtual reality zone, where visitors will be shown eight of its rooms in life size, including the Amber Room, which has been acclaimed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".
To tie in with the exhibition, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will host three sessions of Russian music performances at the 1/F Lobby of the Museum of History for visitors to learn more about the history and culture of Russia.
The performances will be held on November 16, December 28; and February 8, 2015. The exhibition is also being supplemented by two publications: a fully illustrated catalogue and a specially designed pop-up children's booklet. This is the first time that the Museum of History has produced a children's booklet with rich graphics, easy-to-read text and interactive elements, including pop-ups, through which readers will be able to familiarise themselves with the history of Tsarskoye Selo and the broader context of Russian history.
© HKSAR and Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 29 October, 2014