Alexander Palace to Become
Multi-Museum and Exhibition Complex

The facade and roof of the Alexander Palace received a much needed facelift in 2009

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The large-scale reconstruction project to convert the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo into a multi-use museum and exhibition complex is fully underway. The historic building, which since the mid-20th century belonged to the naval department, was officially transferred to the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum Reserve (TSSMR) in November of last year. The Museum Reserve, which will oversee the administration of the Alexander Palace, began restoration work of the facades last year and on the interiors this past winter. The development of the project was allocated 43 million rubles from the federal budget.

It was initially believed that the navy had left the palace in relatively good shape, but after further evaluation, experts now note that “the navy have left the palace in a very deplorable state”.

The first truly serious blows to the palace came during the Great Patriotic War – when it received considerable damage during the air raids. The palace suffered extensive damage, including the destruction of the historic interiors, and furniture from the palace was either stolen or destroyed. Reconstruction of the palace took place in the 1950's, with a partial restoration of the interiors and re-creation of the elements of decoration.

A recent survey of the palace concludes that the palace has been seriously neglected with no capital repairs carried out since 1957. The result is the physical deterioration of the monument. Also found to be in a very poor state are all the engineering systems: heating, ventilation, electricity, water supply and sewerage. Their last renovation was carried out in 1970. These systems are all outdated and require complete reconstruction.

However, the plans of the museum are not limited to the restoration and repair of the palace. The project includes the development of the technical upgrading and adaptation of the Alexander Palace for museum use. The long term goal of TSSMR is to create a multi-museum and exhibition complex.

This will include the actual museum area (with facilities for permanent exhibition and its services, temporary exhibitions, research departments, archives and temporary storage). The cultural and historical center of the Alexander Palace will include a library containing 15-20 thousand items, and a reading room which will also host lectures. The museum will also create space for a cafe and souvenir shops. The latest technical gadgets will offer visitors computer kiosks with touch-sensitive displays, plasma display panels for the demonstration of computer or video, as well as Internet.

The TSSMR believes that the new Alexander Palace museum and exhibition complex will create 100 new jobs for guides, museum caretakers, and technical staff.

The long-term restoration of the palace museum promises to be very expensive. The TSSMR have plans to restore the palace to its original as much as possible, including repainting the facades of the palace. Further plans include renovating and restoring the marble fireplaces and radiators by the firm San Galli, which still operates to this day. The most daring and costly of the restoration work will include the reconstruction of the long lost historical interiors such as the Maple Drawing Room, Rosewood Drawing Room, the Lilac Study of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Moorish lounge, among others.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko visited the Alexander Palace on February 21 to inspect the work being carried out. The TSSMR is confident that the palace will be ready to receive guests on June 24th, when Tsarskoe Selo celebrates its 300th anniversary. This event will truly mark a new page in the history of this beloved palace.

Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
13 April, 2010

Sources: Fontanka.ru

See also;

Alexander Palace State Rooms Now Open
***23 June, 2010***

Pavlovsk to Return Treasures to the Alexander Palace
***4 February, 2010***

Staterooms of the Alexander Palace to Open June 2010
***Video included***