Alexander Palace Closing on August 1 for Restoration Topic: Alexander Palace
The Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo will close on August 1st, for a period of more than 2 years as extensive restoration work is carried out.
The summer of 2015 may be your last opportunity to visit the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo for the next few years. According to Olga Taratynova, the director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve, the Alexander Palace will close its doors to visitors from August 1 for a period of more than 2 years as extensive restoration work is carried out.
"Sadly, it is at this stage of the restoration work in which we are forced to close the palace to visitors. This is a necessity - the palace was passed on to us not in the best condition. Some work has been carried out, such as the deepening of basements, but we now have to concentrate our efforts on the first and second floors of the palace. For instance, all the buildings utilities must be upgraded, and further repairs to the roof need to be completed. Such extensive work make group and individual excursions to the palace impossible, "- said Olga Taratynova.
In 2014, the contracting firm of Zhilstroy Design and Construction Bureau LLC was selected to carry out the restoration of the Alexander Palace, who note that the cost of the work is estimates at 202.8 million rubles. According to Taratynova, the exact timing of the completion of the restoration cannot be guaranteed - a lot will depend on funding. According to preliminary estimates, at best, the palace is partially open two and a half years. "But this optimistic forecast", - added Taratynova.
The Alexander Palace was built in 1792 by order of Empress Catherine II and presented as a gift for the wedding of her favourite grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich and Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alexeyevna. From 1904, the Alexander Palace became the permanent residence of Emperor Nicholas II. In 1918, the palace was opened to visitors as a public museum. During the Nazi occupation of Pushkin during the Second World War, the Alexander Palace housed the headquarters of the Gestapo, who converted the basement into a prison. The square in front of the palace was turned into a cemetery for soldiers of the SS. After the war, the palace was conserved in 1946 and handed over to the Academy of Sciences for storing the collections of the Institute of Russian Literature and the Pushkin Union Museum. The building was then occupied by the Ministry of Defense until 2010.
It should be noted that the no major repairs to the Alexander Palace had been carried out since 1957. In 1996, the palace received a grant from the World Monuments Fund (WMF), and began work to repair the roof of the building. That same year, the exhibition Reminiscences in the Alexander Palace was opened to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the palace, which included the former private apartments of the last imperial family in the East Wing - Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra private apartments. After the departure of the Russian navy in 2009 the palace was officially handed over to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. In 2010, three ceremonial halls in the central part of the palace - Portrait, Semi-circular and Marble - were opened.
In 2011, the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve tabled a master plan for the restoration of the Alexander Palace, which will ultimately create a multi-museum complex. It is expected that the restoration will be complete by 2018, the year in which Russia will mark the 100th anniversary of the murders of Emperor Nicholas II and his family at Ekaterinburg on July 17, 1918.
For more information on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to the following articles:
The Royal Russia web site and blog contain more than 30 articles on the Alexander Palace, its history and restoration. To review these articles, please refer to our directory situated on the left-hand side of this page. Click on the Alexander Palace, where you will find a list of the articles in chronological order. The articles contain numerous videos and dozens of historic and contemporary photographs. Note: each page of our blog holds 10 articles. Click on the Older link located in the bottom left hand side of each page to review more articles and videos on the Alexander Palace.
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve has recently regained the French puppet theatre set of Tsesarevich Alexei, originating from the Playroom of Emperor Nicholas II’s heir in the Alexander Palace until 1931.
After Nicholas’s family left the palace in 1917, the theatre set became part of the museum display in the former Children’s Rooms from 1918 until the exhibition was closed in 1931. The set was transferred to the Toy Museum of Sergiev Posad in 1932 and then to the Puppet Museum of Moscow’s Sergei Obraztsov Puppet Theater in 1937.
The Obraztsov Theatre has now returned the set to the Tsarskoye Selo collection. It is the first example of museum restitution in Russia on condition that an artistic high-quality replica is provided in exchange. This became possible thanks to the stunning work of T. Melnikova and A. Maksimychev, the artists from the St. Petersburg puppet theater Dollhouse who masterly replicated the Guignol booth and puppets from the original set. The replicas will move to the Obraztsov Puppet Theatre's Museum in Moscow, while the originals will grace the Alexander Palace interiors after completion of its extensive restoration in 2018.
Master-crafted in good taste, the puppet theater set of the late 19th-early 20th centuries includes a booth and seven characters of the French Guignol-style show: Harlequin, Caporal, Fiancée, Polichinelle, Madelon, Gendarme and Housemaid. A label on the booth’s front panel reveals that the set originated from a toy store named Au paradis des enfants on Rue de Paris and Rue de Rivoli in downtown Paris.
Family members and visitors to the Alexander Palace became caricature puppets
The Alexander Palace: Pages from the History Topic: Alexander Palace
Soft cover * English text * 34 pages * 61 photographs - mostly colour!
Price $25.00 + Postage - $6.00 Canada & USA - $11.00 All Other Countries
Imported from Russia, this is the first English-language book on the Alexander Palace. Copies of this book are now available for purchase from the Royal Russia Bookshop.
This small, but richly illustrated book offers a history of the Alexander Palace and it’s August residents, from Emperor Alexander I to the last residents, Emperor Nicholas II and his family.
The text explores the history of the palace and it’s residents, particularly that of Nicholas II and his family; the post revolutionary period, the Soviet years, post WW2 period, restorations to the present day.
The book contains 61 photographs and illustrations - mostly colour. These include images of the palace and it’s interiors (historic and contemporary), as well as the members of the Russian Imperial family who resided at the Alexander Palace from the beginning of the 18th to early 20th century.
The text is written by Larissa Bardovskaya, Chief Curator of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve since 1984. She is the author of numerous books on the Romanovs and their palaces at Tsarskoye Selo.
Next Stage of Restoration of the Alexander Palace Allocated 200 Million Rubles Topic: Alexander Palace
The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation have announced that it has allocated a further 200 million rubles for the continued restoration and reconstruction of the Alexander Palace - the former residence of Russian emperors, where Nicholas II was born in 1868. According to the tender documentation issued on Monday, funds will be used to carry out the second stage of work at the palace, with the work to be completed within five months.
The press service of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve told ITAR-TASS that it is committed to a full completion of the restoration of the ground floor of the building which begun in 2011.
The restoration of the West wing of the palace is also currently underway (see photos below). This section of the palace is in extremely poor condition, including broken plaster, wall decorations and ceilings, dilapidated attic floor and all engineering systems. The last restoration of this section of the palace was carried out by the Soviets in the 1970s. Contractors must perform the repair, restoration, conservation and reconstruction of the original form of the building, which includes most of the elements of the Alexander Palace. Restoration work will be carried out by the Petersburg Committee on Monuments (KGIOP).
Work has begun on the west wing of the Alexander Palace. These photos were taken during my visit to Tsarskoye Selo on June 7th, 2014.
Once complete, the newly renovated rooms of the west wing will be used for temporary exhibitions, offices and a conference room. The basement will be renovated and equipped with facilities for receiving groups. The main exhibition will be located in the eastern wing and central parts of the palace. In the next few years, the private quarters of Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra will be recreated in the eastern wing, including the Maple, Pallisander and Mauve rooms. Restoration of the Alexander Palace is now scheduled to be completed by 2018. Funds allocated for its restoration by the federal program Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.
The first restoration works were carried out in the palace in 1996 with a grant of the World Monuments Fund (WMF). The following year the exhibition Reminiscences in the Alexander Palace opened in the east wing, which include many personal items of the last emperor and his family from the collections of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum. Royal Russia was one of the first groups from the West to visit the Alexander Palace, only days after its opening to the public in August 1997. In 2010, three ceremonial halls in the central part of the palace - Portrait, Semi-circular and Marble - were opened.
For more information the Alexander Palace, its history and restoration, please refer to our directory situated on the left of this page. Click on the Alexander Palace, where you will find more than 30 articles, plus 7 videos and dozens of historic and contemporary photographs. Note: each page of our blog holds 10 articles. Click on the Older link located in the bottom left hand side of each page to review more articles and videos on the Alexander Palace.
For the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to my article published in Royal Russia Annual No 3:
The Mists of History: The Alexander Palace Topic: Alexander Palace
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 15th, 2014 edition of the New Zealand Herald. The author Linda Herrick owns the copyright presented below.
The last home to Russia's doomed royal family, and the haunt of 'mad mystic' Rasputin, the Alexander Palace has been trashed over the past century. Now an Aucklander is part of an international group helping to restore it as a world-heritage museum, writes Linda Herrick. Click on the link to read the full article:
Lilac Day Becomes a Tradition at the Alexander Palace Topic: Alexander Palace
On 7 June 2014, Tsarskoye Selo marked its 2nd annual Lilac Day.
Lilac historically occupies a special place in the parks of Tsarskoye Selo. The event is timed to coincide with the birthday of Alexandra Feodorovna, the spouse of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. Her favourite boudoir and sitting rooms at the Alexander Palace were always filled with bouquets of blooming lilacs. On her birthday on June 6, the scent of lilac will fill the palace halls yet again.
Like last year, the event was organized by the museum together with the National Association for the Revival of Historic Gardens and Parks and the International Lilac Society (ILS). The successful start in 2013 has made the event a tradition, with the Alexander Palace being its principal venue.
The events at the Alexander Palace started at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 7th, and included the following:
- Presentation of the book of memoirs by Charles Sydney Gibbes, "Mentor. Tutor to Tsesarevich Alexei Romanov: diaries and memories".
- “Lilac lectures” by known specialists in the field: The lilac passion of the owners of Tsarskoye Selo; Lilac at the Experimental Seed Control Station in Pushkin town; Major farming techniques for growing lilac.
- Presentation of photographs of the kinds of lilacs from the collection of Tsarskoye Selo.
- Workshop on cutting lilacs (near the White Tower).
- Planting of historical kinds of lilac near the main entrance to the Alexander Palace.
Tickets were available at the Alexander Palace ticket offices (adults - Rub 300, students and children – Rub 150).
A lilac (mauve) dress code is welcome.
For more information on the history of lilacs at Tsarskoye Selo, please refer to the following article:
Alexander Palace Prepares for Phase II of Restoration Topic: Alexander Palace
The Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo
A request for tenders has been issued for Phase 2 of the restoration and reconstruction of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo in Pushkin. The starting price of the competition is estimated at 41.4 million Rubles. Details are published on a portal of the state order: Customer - FGBUK “State Art and Architectural Palace and Park Museum-Preserve Tsarskoye Selo”. Applications may be submitted until April 23, to be considered and evaluated on April 28.
The restoration and reconstruction work will involve the technical re-equipment of the building, and elements of restoration and adaptation for museum use. Wall and ceiling lamps, layers of contaminated plaster layer have caused excessive damage. Many other features of the palace are in poor condition, including engineering networks, which were last renovated in the 1970s and require complete reconstruction.
In 2011, work began on the reconstruction, restoration and adaptation of the basement of the building by LLC Architectural Studio 44. The new Alexander Palace Museum is now scheduled to open in 2018. It is estimated that the cost of the restoration work will be 2.2 billion Rubles.
For more information the Alexander Palace, its history and restoration, please refer to our directory situated on the left of this page. Click on the Alexander Palace, where you will find nearly 30 articles, plus 6 videos and dozens of historic and contemporary photographs. Note: each page of our blog holds 10 articles. Click on the Older link located in the bottom left hand side of each page to review more articles and videos on the Alexander Palace.
Former Imperial Furniture Factory in St. Petersburg Demolished Topic: Alexander Palace
The former factory of F. Meltzer & Co., situated on the corner of Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt and Karpovka Embankment has been demolished
Another piece of St. Petersburg’s Imperial past is no more. The building which housed the famed Meltzer furniture factory up until 1918 was demolished on February 6th.
One of the biggest names in the history of Russian furniture - F. Meltzer & Co, was founded in the 1860s by Johann Friedrich Meltzer. Once established, the firm was quickly appointed a supplier to the Russian Imperial Court, producing furniture for numerous Imperial residences, including the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg, the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, the Farm Palace at Peterhof, as well as exclusive pieces for the palaces and mansions of Russia’s aristocracy.
In 1880, the original factory was situated on Bolshoi Konushennoi ulitsa 17, and later moved to larger premises on the corner of Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt and Karpovka Embankment. The new factory was built by the architect Vasily Schaub (1861-1934), it was his first project in St. Petersburg. At the turn of the century the Meltzer’s employed 400 people.
The Meltzer factory closed in 1918. During the First World War the factory manufactured propellers, devices, telephone and telegraph communication. During the Soviet years, the factory produced furniture for hospitals, banks and offices.
The destruction of the historic building has outraged preservation groups in the city who claim that the demolition was illegal. Lawyers representing the groups have filed complaints with local and regional government administrations. Developers plan to construct luxury residences on the vacant land. It is interesting to note that according to the Fontanka.ru, one of the developers, Studio 44, who plan to invest 3 billion rubles in new projects on the site, are also the same firm currently carrying out the restoration of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo.
Today, original pieces of Meltzer’s work can be seen on display in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo.
For more information on F. Meltzer & Co., please refer to the following article;
Restoration Work at the Alexander Palace Yields Hidden Secrets Topic: Alexander Palace
Workers carrying out restoration work in the basement of the Alexander Palace made several startling discoveries last week. After removing the brick walls, workers couldn’t believe their eyes: two secret passageways were sealed into the wall for more than half a century. Inside, they revealed two staircases, one completely preserved, and a small restroom.
Built in the 19th century, the area had been cemented over in the 20th century. It is known that many of the palace’s historic interiors were lost during the building's reconstruction after World War II, and that further alterations had been made during the years in which the Soviet navy occupied the former Imperial palace.
A well preserved staircase was discovered, the wooden railing had not even rotted. A second staircase made of wood was also discovered leading up to the former Valet’s Room, which formed part of Tsar Nicholas II’s private apartments housed in the east wing of the palace. Museum staff believe that the door was sealed with concrete during the postwar restoration of the palace. Then, a small restroom containing a toilet and decorated with 100-year-old Metlaskoy tiles was discovered. Museum staff believe that the restroom might have been used by Nicholas II, however, it is more likely that it was used by palace staff.
Also located in the basement of the Alexander Palace is an underground passage, believed to be a servants' tunnel connecting the Kitchen Building with the palace. It was constructed in the 19th century by the Italian architect Silvio Amvrosievich Danini (1867-1942). He lived in St. Petersburg from 1886, graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1892. From 1896, he was the architect of the palace administration of Tsarskoe Selo. During the 1900s, Danini decorated a number of interiors of the Alexander Palace. After World War II, the tunnels were sealed with concrete. Workers note that the underground passage connecting the Alexander Palace and Kitchen Building has been preserved in excellent condition.
The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve must now decide what to do with a secret staircase - preserve or restore it, providing access to Nicholas II private apartments. They must also determine the fate and possible use of the tunnel, providing access to visitors or restricting its use for administrative purposes only.
Restoration of the Alexander Palace Temporarily Suspended Topic: Alexander Palace
"The restoration of the Alexander Palace - an architectural masterpiece and beloved home to the last Russian Emperor - is our long-cherished dream. However, for us it is crucial that the main event next year - the opening of the Museum of the First World War, which requires a lot of effort and resources must take presidence. As a result, work at the Alexander Palace has been temporarily suspended" - said Olga Taratynova, the director of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve.
The new Alexander Palace Museum is now scheduled to open in 2018. It is estimated that the cost of the restoration work will be 2.2 billion Rubles.
For more information on the restoration of the Alexander Palace, please refer to the following article;