Russia’s State Historical Museum
is 140 Years Old

The State Russian Historical Museum overlooks Moscow's Red Square.

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Russia’s largest collection of historical and cultural monuments, the State Historical Museum is celebrating its 140th anniversary. The museum founded by Emperor Alexander the Second was aimed as an illustration of Russia’s significant events in history.

The red brick museum, which was built in neo-Russian style, is located near Red Square in Moscow and is one of the key tourist attractions. Together with its branch, the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral located on the other side of Red Square, the State Historical Museum is a building of great architectural value and has been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The museum has almost 5 million showpieces and over 15 million pages of documents.

All this has been gathered not in the past 140 years but over the ages. The aristocratic and merchant families presented heirlooms from their family collections: family libraries, icons, rare weapons, valuable historical documents. The establishment of the museum had a real national significance, says historian, Academician Sigurd Shmidt.

“In the second half of the 19th century, people started showing keen interest not only in the country’s history but realized the need of studying it. The idea was born of creating a museum devoted to the history of Russians who were living in the Russian Empire at the time. The museum started developing a methodology of studying history and became a place of scholarship,” Sigurd Shmidt said.

The museum devotes several halls to the Romanov dynasty, featuring portraits, uniforms, dresses,
and many personal items of members of the Russian Imperial family spanning three centuries.

Russia has experienced many historical cataclysms in the past 140 years, and it has more then once changed its borders and even the name of the country. However, the historical museum has remained a location where one can get acquainted with the realities of history, says the deputy director of the museum, Andrei Yankovsky.

“This is a museum of national history of the Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union. We have monuments and documents linked to the history of the CIS member countries because, some time ago this was the chief historical museum of the Soviet Union,” Andrei Yankovsky said.

The museum added ancient artifacts to its collection ahead of its 140th anniversary. At present, there is a dolmen discovered in southern Russia, in the hall of the Bronze Age. It was made on the territory of the Western Caucasus about 4,000 years ago. In short, this was done at a time when Pyramids of Egypt and the tomb of Tutankhamen were built. It was a big problem to place the dolmen inside the museum because of its 5-ton weight.

The museum is creating a restoration centre. It holds six new exhibitions a year. Among these are an exhibition dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon in the Patriotic War of 1812 and a Russian-German display, “Russians and Germans: 1000 Years Together” dedicated to the 250th anniversary of the enthronement of the Empress Catherine the Great. All these are well known names and significant events.

Source & Copyright: The Voice of Russia
21 February, 2012