A new exhibit in a new museum opens at the end of May at the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery in Jordanville. It features rare artifacts spanning four centuries of a culture that was once elusive to Americans.
The 'Russian Word and Image" exhibit starts in the 1500's. It features both secular and sacred pieces of history, including a complete collection of Pushkin's work, artifacts from the times of the Tsars, and post-revolutionary pieces.
One section of the exhibit holds a special place in the hearts of the descendants of Russian nobility. Their families were exiled from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution.
From a blouse, worn by royalty, to an earring worn by an empress, to silverware used by the royal family, with the monogramming filed off by revolutionaries, the artifacts document pieces of history like the assassination of the last royal Russian family in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
The curator of the museum Rev. Vladimir von Tsurikov said, " Anything that had to do with pre-revolutionary Russia was destroyed."
That's why what remains of that era, is so special, and important to documenting history.
"A lot of cultural collections of pre-revolutionary Russia have survived very often in the U.S. because the Soviet Union in the 1930's undertook a large sale of cultural goods," Tsurikov said.
Other items were taken out of Russia by fleeing families.
Cyril Geancintov, phD, President of the Russian Nobility Association said, "It was organized many years ago by people like my parents, who escaped the communist regime."
Jordanville became a sort of a safe house to guard their stories.
" We'd like to have a place to put what we inherited from our parents," Geancintov said. "I have an icon from my grandmother, which was given to her by the Czarina in 1914 because she was running a hospital for people in World War I."
He said, what's happening today in the U.S. with a sort of negative feeling toward Russia, is a shame because Russian Americans have served in the U.S. government and military and consider themselves Americans.
Michael Pavlovich, Romanoff Ilyinksy is the great, great grandson of Tsar Alexander II. His great grandfather was Grand Duke Paul. His grandfather was Grand Duke Dmitri. His father was Prince Paul.
He says he's one of only two direct male descendants of the Tsar.
"It means a great deal," Ilyinsky said. "It's difficult to explain. being an American is so different from being a Russian in some respects...I'm very fortunate because my family's history is so well-documented."
Research Scholar and Staff Associate at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute Edward Kasinec has spent years studying Eastern European, and Eurasian history. Kasinec was also present at the special preview opening of the exhibit.
Kasinec said, "The Russians, in a sense, are the latest wave of newcomers to the Mohawk Valley and they bring great tradition of culture and art."
Kasinec is speaking of a long history of immigrants to the region.
The monastery has been in Jordanville for nearly a century, founded by monks who came with very little other than what they could use to create print, and iconography.
"Many individuals who left Russia, came with very little except their intellect and hard work," Kasinec said.
The monastery's museum is a sort of safety deposit box for the memories, the history, and the in-valuables that were able to make way this far.
It opens to the public on May 25th, and will have a regular schedule for viewing. It's one of the only private museums for the descendants of the Russian Royal family.
For more information on this unique exhibit and museum, please refer to the following articles:
© WKTV News. 19 May, 2014