Field Marshal Kutuzov’s notes, an ashtray made from a hoof of a horse belonging to Denis Davydov, Napoleon’s sabre, are among exhibits at the newly opened War of 1812 museum in Moscow.
The new museum is located outside the Moscow State Historical Museum on Red Square where a large exhibition took place in 1912 to mark the centenary of the Patriotic War of 1812.
The recently unveiled exhibition is organized in a two-storey pavilion featuring a great variety of rarities, including military maps and personal belongings. The opening of the museum appears to be a truly landmark occasion in a series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of Russia’s victory over Napoleon.
A large piece of a mural painting from the Christ the Savior Cathedral which was blown up in 1931 catches your eye as soon as you enter the museum. The cathedral was built in late 19th century to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon. There you can also see a large screen showing a film about the Napoleonic Wars. The exhibition combines traditional glass museum display cases and multimedia. “There are no accidental exhibits here”, the organizers say. Kirill Meerov, who runs the information department at the Historical Museum, showed the VoR`s correspondent around the museum.
“Just look: this is a throne which belonged to Emperor Alexander I. He asked for a throne similar to the one owned by Napoleon to be made for him but with different symbolic engravings. The one owned by Napoleon is on display at Versailles, and Alexander`s throne can be seen at our museum in Moscow”.
The collection also features authentic pieces of the Russian army uniform, as well as items from Alexander`s field church, portraits of the heroes of the Borodino Battle, and the ribbon of the Order of Saint Andrew the First-Called worn by General Pyotr Bagration when he was fatally wounded during the Borodino Battle. Things once belonged to Field Marshal Kutuzov are being displayed separately: his decorations, tableware, small telescope and notes he made during the Battle of Borodino. Visitors can also see French cannons and a field kitchen used by the French army, and Napoleon’s sleigh he boarded to flee Russia. Some exhibits are really outstanding. For example, Napoleon’s sabre: in 1814 he presented it to Alexander`s aide, General Shuvalov shortly after the two had swapped their coats. Why did they do that? Napoleon could have been killed on his way to the island of Elba, and to avoid this the Russian general put on Napoleon`s coat at the risk of his life.
It looks that the newly opened War of 1812 museum in Moscow will attract plenty of visitors interested in learning many interesting stories behind 2,000 exhibits on display.
© The Voice of Russia. 05 September, 2012