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Tuesday, 17 December 2013
Russia Prepares First Museum Dedicated to World War I
Topic: World War I

The restoration and reconstruction of the Ratnaya Palata for museum use began in 2011.
The new World War I museum will open at Tsarskoye Selo in August 2014.
Photo Credit:
The following article was originally published in the December 17th, 2013 edition of the Art Newspaper. The author Sophia Kishkovsky owns the copyright presented below.
If all goes to plan, 100 years after Tsar Nicholas II mobilised his vast army for war with Germany and Austro-Hungary, Russia will open a First World War museum that is not dominated by a Marxist interpretation of history.
The Moscow office of the US-based design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates is in discussions with Russia’s ministry of culture to create a First World War museum at the Ratnaya Palata, a former military museum in Tsarskoye Selo, which was the country residence of the tsars. The ambitious project will require military precision to meet its planned opening date of 1 August 2014. 

“The main thing is that the [war] museum is interesting, so that people who come will want to return with their friends and children,” said Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky. He was speaking in a meeting at the end of October, when concepts for the project were presented, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Medinsky, the author of a bestselling 2011 book about the Second World War, has been a major proponent of the new museum.

Restoring the war’s legacy

Natalia Narochnitskaya, a historian who leads a foundation campaigning for projects to educate Russians about the First World War, says: “Throughout the Soviet period, [the conflict] was interpreted as imperial and unnecessary. How can one say that when it threatened our entire 300-year history?”

The Appelbaum-designed Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre opened in 2012 in Moscow’s landmark Constructivist bus depot, which was designed in 1927 by the avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov. The Jewish museum’s multimedia design attracted the attention of Russian officials, who see it as a way to draw younger audiences to the First World War museum. 

The ministry has also set its sights on Star Media, a film and television production company that makes historical documentaries, romantic comedies and a Russian version of “Dancing with the Stars”. The aim is for the company to work with Appelbaum’s Russian-based team to create content for the museum and to restore the legacy of the war to Russia’s historical consciousness.

Nick Appelbaum, a partner of Ralph Appelbaum Associates, visited Moscow last month to meet officials from the ministry. He says: “I understand that there is an ideological component behind any government project. I can’t say to what extent that is driving this. I would say that everyone is looking to clearly say what happened and that’s what’s been missing. We’re seeing it in all the projects we are working on [in Russia].”

The construction of the Ratnaya Palata, or Military Chambers, began in 1913. The cornerstone was laid in the presence of Nicholas II and work was completed in 1917. Yelena Tretyakova, the widowed sister-in-law of Pavel Tretyakov, the founder of Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery, was the military museum’s main benefactor. It was initially meant to be a museum of the history of Russia’s military forces, but, as events unfolded, it became a museum of the Great War. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the museum’s collection was dispersed among other museums or destroyed. The building was severely damaged during the Second World War. 

Historical awareness

The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve has been working on a concept for reviving the war museum since 2008. “We will turn over everything that we developed and collected, everything we prepared in terms of content, and it will all be adapted to the new concept,” says Iraida Bott, the deputy director of Tsarskoye Selo. “It will be more interactive. There will be some paintings; we don’t have a lot of paintings in our collection, and as it won’t be possible to make a convincing array from our collection, it is most likely that another [medium] will be used.” 

There is a growing demand for exhibitions devoted to historical topics that were previously repressed or depicted through the prism of Soviet ideology. In November, a queue of visitors snaked past the Kremlin wall to get into the Manege exhibition hall for a Russian Orthodox Church-sponsored multimedia exhibition about the Romanov dynasty. A press statement about the show boasted of “350 multimedia carriers”, including touchscreens, 50in plasma screens, light boxes, tablet computers with interactive quizzes and educational apps developed specially for the exhibition.

The most valuable artefact on show is an icon of the Mother of God, with which Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov was blessed in the 17th century before he became Michael I of Russia. It was lent by Kostroma’s Epiphany Monastery. 

For more information on this new museum, please refer to the following Royal Russia links;

(1) Restoration of World War I Museum at Tsarskoye Selo 

(2) World War One Museum to Open at Tsarskoye Selo

(3) World War I Museum at Tsarskoye Selo - UPDATE

© The Art Newspaper. 17 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:29 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 17 December 2013 1:40 PM EST
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Friday, 11 October 2013
Historians Meet at Tsarskoye Selo to Assess Russia's Role in World War I
Topic: World War I

The Third International Academic Conference entitled The First World War, Versailles System and Contemporary World runs October 11-12 at Tsarskoye Selo. It focuses on Russia’s role in the war-time events.

The First International Academic Conference, The First World War, the Versailles System and the Present, was held at the St. Petersburg State University in 2009.

The current conference, organized by Russia’s Ministry of Culture, Russian Military & Historical Society, St. Petersburg State University, Russian Association of WWI Historians, and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Universal History, gathered over 100 historians from the largest Russian and foreign universities and research centers. The honorary guests and attendees include representatives of Tsarskoye Selo, Hermitage, Central WWII Museum and Russia’s Defense Ministry. 

The conference will see a presentation of the first modern Russian WWI museum, Russia in the Great War, which is to open at the Martial Chamber of Tsarskoye Selo on August 1st, 2014. 
© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 11 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:23 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 11 October 2013 1:09 PM EDT
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Thursday, 1 August 2013
Russia Marks World War I Remembrance Day
Topic: World War I

No one is forgotten! Nothing is forgotten!
Russian Soldiers’ World War I Remembrance Day is being marked for the first time in Russia today, August 1. Chairman of the State Duma lower house of parliament, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the preparation of activities associated with the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the chairman of the Russian Historical Society (RHS) Sergei Naryshkin laid a wreath with a black ribbon at the Obelisk to the Soldiers Fallen in the World War of 1914-1918 in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reports.
“The remembrance date was established on the initiative of the Russian parliament in the autumn of 2012 and is timed to the Russian Empire’s entry into the First World War,” the State Duma press service noted. Sergei Naryshkin will also hold on Thursday a working meeting with the Organising Committee members and the leadership of the RHS and the Russian Military and Historical Society dedicated to the preparation for the events marking the 100th anniversary since the outbreak of the First World War. This date will be observed next year. The meeting will be held at the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812.
The First World War began on July 28, 1914, after Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia. The formal reason was the assassination in Sarajevo (now Bosnia and Herzegovina) of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. Historians admit that the accumulated insoluble interstate and inter-allied contradictions caused the war. That is why the declaration by Austria of war on Serbia caused a “domino effect:” Russia said it would not allow the occupation of Serbia, the Germany - an ally of Austria-Hungary, began secret mobilization, and France – Russia’s ally, started to put its troops in the alert.
Germany put forward an ultimatum that Russia end its mobilization, and when Russia refused, it declared war on August 1. A day later, Germany declared war against France, which formed one military bloc with Russia and England, after which England also entered the war.
Contemporaries noted that the war had caused widespread enthusiasm in all countries, but nobody thought that it would last not 3-4 months, but four years and cause unprecedented casualties and destruction. As a result of this war, four empires: the Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman ceased to exist. The total number of the war victims is estimated at 30 million. 
© Russkiy Mir. 01 August, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:24 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 1 August 2013 2:30 PM EDT
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Thursday, 25 July 2013
Remembering the Russian Soldiers of a Forgotten War
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 46 seconds
Topic: World War I
The State Historical Museum in Moscow has opened an exhibit showcasing designs for a new monument to the Russian heroes and soldiers of World War I. An All-Russian competition resulted in a total of 32 sculptural design entries, which has now been narrowed down to 15. The winning design will be made into a full scale monument which will be erected on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow in Autumn 2014.
Most Russians conclude that the country's entry into the First World War  was an event that largely determined the fate of the country in the twentieth century, one that was virtually forgotten or simply non-existent under the Bolsheviks and the Soviets. The label "imperialist war" officially assigned to the First World after October 1917, did not allow an objective assessment of the scale of the tragedy. It is estimated that the number of Russian soldiers who died during the war was any where from 1.8 million to 2.4 million. This lack of empathy is a typical example of the total disregard for human life that the Bolsheviks maintained during their destruction of the Russian Empire.
Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, the war in which Tsar Nicholas II mobilized Russia against Germany, a war which brought disastrous results for Russia and an end to the monarchy. August 1st, 2014 has been designated as a Day of Remembrance for the Russian soldiers who died during the First World War.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 July, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:58 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 July 2013 8:05 AM EDT
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Thursday, 28 February 2013
Kremlin to Celebrate Jubilee of World War I
Topic: World War I


The Kremlin has announced that Russia will mark the 100th anniversary of the country's entry into World War I in 2014. Russian authorities intend to refresh the knowledge of its citizens of Russia's participation in the Great War.

The Kremlin will order the burials of soldiers of the Russian army in the territory of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Serbia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Greece and Germany. An online archive of documentary photographs and soldiers’ letters and memories of military operations will be created on the Internet. A monument will be erected in Moscow in memory of the victims onboard a hospital vessel which was sunk by a German submarine in 1916. 

Authorities also plan the founding of a uniform museum and archive of World War I.

The immense contribution which Russia played during the First World War was largely ignored during the Soviet years. A century later, it seems only fitting that Russia now honour those who sacrificed their lives for their country.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 February, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:17 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 28 February 2013 6:39 AM EST
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