The former Lenin Museum will house the new Museum of the 1812 Russian-French War
The museum of the 1812 Russian-French War, which was recently built in Moscow, is preparing to open in September, when the main festivities devoted to 200 years since Russia’s victory in that war will take place.
In fact, such a museum might have opened already a century ago, in 1912, when Russia was celebrating 100 years since the victory. At that time, initiators of the museum collected items, which had to do with the 1812 war, all over Russia – documents, personal things of the war’s participants and so on.
“In 1912, these items were shown at a large preliminary exhibition in the Moscow Historic Museum,” the current director of this museum Alexey Levykin narrates. “Emperor Nicholas II himself visited this exhibition.”
“It looked like only one step was left for a museum of the 1812 war to open in Russia,” Mr. Levykin says. “But then, the First World War broke out, which was followed by the 1917 revolution, and later, the Second World War. The idea of the museum was altogether forgotten. It looked like there remained no chances that it would ever come into being.”
However, before the 200th anniversary of the victory of 1812, another attempt of opening the museum was taken – this time, successful. It took only one year to build a new facility for this museum. The two-storey building is situated in the inner yard of the the *Historic Museum (former Lenin Museum and Moscow Duma), near the Red Square. “Hidden” in the yard, it is unseen from the outside, so the traditional look of the historic center of Moscow has not changed at all.
The new museum’s exposition includes such rare exhibits as a military uniform of Emperor Alexander I, who ruled Russia during the 1812 war, a set of pistols which Napoleon once presented to one of his generals (at that time, Napoleon has not proclaimed himself an emperor yet, but occupied the post of the First Chancellor of the French Republic) and a sword which used to belong to Napoleon himself. By an irony of fate, after the 1917 revolution, this sword somehow came to belong to a man who served in the Red Army and fought against opponents of the Bolshevik regime.
Among the other exhibits, there are personal items of soldiers and generals, both Russian and French, who took part in that war, and documents of the wartime, including orders signed by Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who commanded the Russian army during the 1812 war.
In total, the exhibition counts about 2,000 items. All of them were presented at the exhibition in the Historic Museum in 1912, and all were represented in a catalogue of that time, now a rarity, that will also be presented at the exhibition which is due to open soon.
Note: The building was originally constructed in 1887 by the architect Dmitry Chichagov. It served as the Moscow City Duma (City Hall) up until 1917. After the Revolution, the duma was disbanded and the building was handed over to the Lenin Museum. Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Lenin Museum was closed due to the lack of visitors. The building was handed over to the State Historical Museum. - PG
© The Voice of Russia. 18 August, 2012