St. Petersburg is a city of art. Having served as the capital of Russia for two centuries, it remains a cultural hub. Home to the Mariinsky Theatre, the Hermitage Museum, and the world-famous ballet, there is no shortage of culture. Amongst the notable attractions is the Russian Museum.
The State Russian Museum has one of the world’s finest collection of Russian art. On par with the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The museum is home to more than 400,000 pieces spanning the 10th-21st centuries.
History of the Russian Museum
In 1898, Tsar Nicholas II decided to open the State Russian Museum. The museum opening honored his father, Alexander III.
Initially called the Alexandrovskiy Museum, it was the first of its kind. Exclusively displaying the works of Russian artists, the pieces date back to 11th-century church icons.
Work from the Hermitage Museum, Alexander Palace, and the Imperial Academy of Arts helped to curate the museum’s original collection.
The State Russian Museum is recognizable by its large main building. The main building, Mikhailovsky Palace, was the former residence of Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich. Built to a design by Italian architect, Carlo Rossi. The palace demonstrates the Neoclassical architecture of that era. Erected in 1819-25, the palace has stood on the Square of Arts in St Petersburg for over 100 years.
Before being converted to a museum, the palace was famous for its many theatrical displays and balls.
As the collection has expanded, so has the museum itself. Today, the museum complex covers a total of 40 hectares throughout St Petersburg. Its constant expansion has led to it being one of the largest art museums in the world.
The main museum remains in the yellow-stoned, neoclassical Mikhailovsky Palace. The Benois Wing also houses some of the museum’s permanent exhibitions.
In addition to the main complex, St. Michael’s Castle and the Marble Palace, Stroganov, and Summer Palaces are part of the museum. The complex spreads to three gardens, including the Summer Garden. The cabin of Peter the Great, otherwise known as the first St. Petersburg “palace” of Peter the Great, is another branch of the museum.
Visiting the Museum
Visiting the Russian Museum today, museum-goers will find a unique collection of Russian art.
The collection includes works by
- Karl Bryullov
- Alexander Ivanov
- Nicholas Ghe
- Ilya Repin
- Natalya Goncharova
- Kazimir Malevich
- Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
Alongside its exhibitions, the museum is leading in the art of restoration. The Department of Restoration of Museum Exhibits is a modern scientific and restoration center. Within the center, studios specialize in the restoration of paintings, drawings, furniture, and other works.
The museum has an influential reputation within the art world. It is the center of a network of national museums of art and leads in academic research.
While visiting St. Petersburg, the Russian Museum is a great way to experience the deep culture within the city.
The nearest metro station to the main building is Nevsky Prospekt. Visitors travel through the underground passage of Nevsky Prospekt and Italyanskaya street to reach the Arts square. Opening times vary throughout the week, but the museum is closed on Tuesdays.
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