The Russian Museum
A Matter of National Honour

The former Mikhailovsky Palace was once the residence of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich and his wife, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna in St. Petersburg.
In 1895, the palace was established as The State Russian Museum by Emperor Nicholas II in honour of his father, the Emperor Alexander III.

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On April 13th, 1895, Russian Emperor Nicholas II signed a decree on establishing the State Russian Museum in the then capital of St. Petersburg, country's first museum of Russian art. The present-day collection of the Russian Museum is rather impressive.

Nicholas II was obeying the will of his father, Emperor Alexander III, says deputy Director of the Russian Museum Yevgenia Petrova:

"The decree provided for the opening of a museum, then called the "Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III". Given that it was to become the first state museum in Russia, it had to trace the entire history of Russian fine art, up to the end of the 19th century. This directive became the basis for numerous museums, later established in Russia. The idea of a state museum, which would display the history of Russian art, emerged in the early 19th century during the war with France, but was first implemented as a private initiative. A well-known collector Pavel Svinyin set up a comparatively small museum called the Russian Museum. The idea was brought to life in the late 19th century".

To display the first collections, Emperor Nicholas II sold the Mikhailovsky Palace to the state treasury. The exposition, which at first occupied 37 halls, rapidly expanded to a large complex, including four palaces, a castle, and two park-and-garden ensembles. One of them is the famous Summer Garden with its white marble statues.

By request of other countries, the Russian Museum is always arranging exhibits which go on tour. This year, Greece saw the exposition "Architecture as an Icon", Italy enjoyed "The Style of the Tsar" display, works by eminent constructivists of the early 20th century Alexander Rodchenko and Lyubov Popova were exhibited in Spain, and an exposition of paintings by Russian avant-garde artists visited Brazil. Vladimir Gusev, the Russian Museum's Director has this to say:

"Exhibits shouldn't gather dust in museum depositories, although it would be better for safety reasons. Art treasures are similar to pearls. They start sparkling brightly when people touch them".

Established to show the artistic and cultural legacy of Russia, the Russian Museum is successfully coping with this task.

Sources: The Voice of Russia
28 April, 2011