View Full Version : Moscow Museum Guide

17-09-2008, 11:38
Hi Friends,

In this thread, I will try to organise a Moscow Museum Guide for everyone who visits expat.ru. I hope it will be nice introduction for visitors to learn about the histories of the museums, to understand the importance of them for the Russian people, to see their photos, and also to learn about their addresses, contact numbers, etc.

Of course there are many many museums in Moscow and we will need many pages of work to present them all. So I will introduce the ones which are most attractive and important for the history of Moscow. (according to my opinion of course)

If you would like to help also, I and all people would be happy to see some photos of these attractions, your ideas etc, I'm giving descripsions anyway...

Thank you for your time and interest.

17-09-2008, 11:58
State Historical-Cultural Museum-Preserve "The Moscow Kremlin"

The Moscow Kremlin (Russian: Московский Кремль Moskovskiy Kreml) usually referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River (to the south), Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square (to the east) and the Alexander Garden (to the west). It is the best known of kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes four palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of Russia.

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The site has been continuously inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC, and originates from a Vyatich fortified structure on Borovitsky Hill where the Neglinnaya River flowed into the Moskva River. The Slavs occupied the south-western portion of the hill as early as the 11th century, as testifies a metropolitan seal from the 1090s, which was unearthed by Soviet archaeologists on the spot.

Until the 14th century, the site was known as the grad of Moscow. The word "kremlin" was first recorded in 1331 and its etymology is disputed (see Vasmer online). The "grad" was greatly extended by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky in 1156, destroyed by the Mongols in 1237 and rebuilt in oak in 1339.

Seat of Grand Dukes

The first recorded stone structures in the Kremlin were built at the behest of Ivan Kalita in the late 1320s and early 1330s, after Peter, Metropolitan of Rus was forced to move his seat from Kiev to Moscow. The new ecclesiastical capital needed permanent churches. These included the Dormition Cathedral (1327, with St. Peter's Chapel, 1329), the church-belltower of St. John Climacus (1329), the monastery church of the Saviour's Transfiguration (1330), and the Archangel Cathedral (1333)—all built of limestone and decorated with elaborate carving, each crowned by a single dome. Of these churches, the reconstructed Saviour Cathedral alone survived into the 20th century, only to be pulled down at the urging of Stalin in 1933.

Dmitri Donskoi replaced the oaken walls with a strong citadel of white limestone in 1366–1368 on the basic foundations of the current walls; this fortification withstood a siege by Khan Tokhtamysh. Dmitri's son Vasily I resumed construction of churches and cloisters in the Kremlin. The newly-built Annunciation Cathedral was painted by Theophanes the Greek, Andrey Rublev, and Prokhor in 1405. The Chudov Monastery was founded by Dmitri's tutor, Metropolitan Alexis; while his widow, Eudoxia, established the Ascension Convent in 1397.

Grand Prince Ivan III organised the reconstruction of the Kremlin, inviting a number of skilled architects from Renaissance Italy, like Pietro Antonio Solari and Marco Ruffo. It was during his reign that three extant cathedrals of the Kremlin, the Deposition Church, and the Palace of Facets were constructed. The highest building of the city and Muscovite Russia was the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, built in 1505–08 and augmented to its present height in 1600. The Kremlin walls as they now appear were built between 1485 and 1495.

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Residence of Tsars

After construction of the new Kremlin walls and churches was complete, the monarch decreed that no structures should be built in the immediate vicinity of the citadel. The Kremlin was separated from the walled merchant town (Kitai-gorod) by a 30-metre-wide moat, over which the Intercession Cathedral on the Moat was constructed during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The same tsar also renovated some of his grandfather's palaces, added a new palace and cathedral for his sons, and endowed the Trinity metochion inside the Kremlin. The metochion was administrated by the Trinity Monastery and boasted the graceful tower church of St. Sergius, which was described by foreigners as one of the finest in the country.

During the Time of Troubles, the Kremlin was held by the Polish-Lithuanian forces for two years, between 21 September 1610 and 26 October 1612. The Kremlin's liberation by the volunteer army of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky paved the way for the election of Mikhail Romanov as the new tsar. During his reign and that of his son Alexis, the eleven-domed Upper Saviour Cathedral, Armorial Gate, Terem Palace, Amusement Palace and the palace of Patriarch Nikon were built. Following the death of Alexis, the Kremlin witnessed the Moscow Uprising of 1682, from which tsar Peter barely escaped, causing him to dislike the Kremlin. Three decades later, Peter abandoned the residence of his forefathers for his new capital, Saint Petersburg.

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Imperial period

Although still used for coronation ceremonies, the Kremlin was abandoned and neglected until 1773, when Catherine the Great engaged Vasily Bazhenov to build her new residence there. Bazhenov produced a bombastic Neoclassical design on a heroic scale, which involved the demolition of several churches and palaces, as well as a portion of the Kremlin wall. After the preparations were over, construction halted due to lack of funds. Several years later, Matvei Kazakov restored the dismantled sections of the wall, rebuilt the ancient Saviour Cathedral and some structures of the Chudov Monastery, and constructed the spacious and luxurious residence of the Senate, since adapted for use as the principal workplace of the President of Russia.

During Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, the French forces occupied the Kremlin from 2 September to 11 October. When Napoleon fled Moscow, he ordered the whole Kremlin to be blown up. The Kremlin Arsenal, several portions of the Kremlin Wall and several wall towers were destroyed by explosions and fires damaged the Faceted Chamber and churches. Explosions continued for three days, from 21 to 23 October. Fortunately, the rain damaged the fuses, and the damage was less severe than intended. Restoration works were held in 1816–19, supervised by Osip Bove. During the remainder of Alexander I's reign, several ancient structures were overhauled in a fanciful neo-Gothic style, but many more were simply swept away as "disused" or "dilapidated" (including all the buildings of the Trinity metochion).

On visiting Moscow during his coronation, Nicholas I of Russia was not satisfied with the Grand, or Winter, Palace, which had been erected to Rastrelli's design in the 1750s. The elaborate Baroque structure was demolished, as of St. John the Precursor, built by Aloisio the New in 1508 in place of the very first church ever constructed in Moscow. The architect Konstantin Thon was commissioned to replace them with the Grand Kremlin Palace, which was to rival the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg by its dimensions and the opulence of its interiors. The palace was constructed in 1839–49, followed by the new building of the Kremlin Armoury in 1851.

After that, there was virtually no new construction in the Kremlin until the Russian Revolution of 1917. The only new structures were the Monument to Alexander II and a stone cross marking the spot where Grand Duke Sergey Aleksandrovich of Russia was assassinated by Ivan Kalyayev in 1905. These monuments were destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

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Soviet Period and Beyond

The Soviet government moved from Petrograd to Moscow on 12 March 1918. Lenin selected the Kremlin Senate as his residence, and his room is still preserved as a museum. Stalin also had his personal rooms in the Kremlin. He was eager to remove from his headquarters all the "relics of the tsarist regime". Golden eagles on the towers were replaced by shining Kremlin stars, while the wall near Lenin's Mausoleum was turned into the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.

The Chudov Monastery and Ascension Convent, with their magnificent 16th-century cathedrals, were dismantled to make room for the military school and Palace of Congresses. The Little Nicholas Palace and the old Saviour Cathedral were pulled down as well. The residence of the Soviet government was closed to tourists until 1955. It was not until the Khrushchev Thaw that the Kremlin was reopened to foreign visitors. The Kremlin Museums were established in 1961 and the complex was among the first Soviet patrimonies inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990.

Although the current director of the Kremlin Museums, Elena Gagarina (Yuri Gagarin's daughter) advocates a full-scale restoration of the destroyed cloisters, recent developments have been confined to expensive restoration of the original interiors of the Grand Kremlin Palace, which were altered during Stalin's rule. The Patriarch of Moscow has a suite of rooms in the Kremlin, but divine service in the Kremlin cathedrals is held irregularly, because they are still administrated as museums.

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The existing Kremlin walls and towers were built by Italian masters over the years 1485 to 1495. The irregular triangle of the Kremlin wall encloses an area of 275,000 square meters (68 acres). Its overall length is 2235 meters (2444 yards), but the height ranges from 5 to 19 metres, depending on the terrain. The wall's thickness is between 3.5 and 6.5 meters.

Originally there were eighteen Kremlin towers, but their number increased to twenty in the 17th century. All but three of the towers are square in plan. The highest tower is the Spasskaya, which was built up to its present height of 71 metres in 1625. Most towers were originally crowned with wooden tents; the extant brick tents with strips of colored tiles go back to the 1680s.

Cathedral Square is the heart of the Kremlin. It is surrounded by six buildings, including three cathedrals. The Cathedral of the Dormition was completed in 1479 to be the main church of Moscow and where all the Tsars were crowned. The massive limestone facade, capped with its five golden cupolas was the design of Aristotele Fioravanti. Several important metropolitans and patriarchs are buried there, including Peter and Makarii. The gilded, three-domed Cathedral of the Annunciation was completed next in 1489, only to be reconstructed to a nine-domed design a century later. On the south-east of the square is the much larger Cathedral of the Archangel Michael (1508), where almost all the Muscovite monarchs from Ivan Kalita to Alexis I of Russia are interred. (Boris Godunov was originally buried there, but was moved to the Trinity Monastery.)

Church of the Deposition (1488).There are two domestic churches of the Metropolitans and Patriarchs of Moscow, the Church of the Twelve Apostles (1653–56) and the exquisite one-domed Church of the Deposition of the Virgin's Robe, built by Pskov artisans over the years 1484–88 and featuring superb icons and frescoes from 1627 and 1644.

The other notable structure is the Ivan the Great Bell Tower on the north-east corner of the square, which is said to mark the exact centre of Moscow and resemble a burning candle. Completed in 1600, it is 81 meters (266 ft) high. Until the Russian Revolution, it was the tallest structure in the city, as construction of buildings taller than that was forbidden. Its 21 bells would sound the alarm if any enemy was approaching. The upper part of the structure was destroyed by the French during the Napoleonic Invasion and has, of course, been rebuilt. The Tsar bell, the largest bell in the world, stands on a pedestal next to the tower.

The oldest secular structure still standing is Ivan III's Palace of Facets (1491), which holds the imperial thrones. The next oldest is the first home of the royal family, the Terem Palace. The original Terem Palace was also commissioned by Ivan III, but most of the existing palace was built in the 17th century. The Terem Palace and the Palace of Facets are linked by the Grand Kremlin Palace. This was commissioned by Nicholas I in 1838. The largest structure in the Kremlin, it cost an exorbitant sum of eleven million rubles to build and more than one billion dollars to renovate in the 1990s. It contains dazzling reception halls, a ceremonial red staircase, private apartments of the tsars, and the lower storey of the Resurrection of Lazarus church (1393), which is the oldest extant structure in the Kremlin and the whole of Moscow.

The northeast corner of the Kremlin is occupied by the Arsenal, which was originally built for Peter the Great in 1701. The northwestern section of the Kremlin holds the Armoury building. Built in 1851 to a Renaissance Revival design, it is currently a museum housing Russian state regalia and Diamond fund.

Phone: (495) 202-3776 (автоответчик), 203-0349

Address: 103073, Moscow, Kremlin

Location: Any of the following metro stations: Biblioteka im. Lenina, Alexsandrovskii Sad, Borovitskaya, Arbatskaya, Teatralnaya, Ploshad Revolutsii, Okhotny Ryad

Working hours:Open daily, except Thursday, 10am - 6pm

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17-09-2008, 18:48
St. Basil's Cathedral

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The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat (Russian: Собор Покрова что на Рву - The Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God, or simply Pokrovskiy Cathedral - Russian: Покровский Собор; better known as the Cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed , Saint Basil's Cathedral - Russian: Храм Василия Блаженного) is a multi-tented church on the Red Square in Moscow that also features distinctive onion domes.

The cathedral was commissioned by Ivan IV (also known as Ivan the Terrible) Moscow to commemorate the capture of the Khanate of Kazan. In 1588 Tsar Fedor Ivanovich had a chapel added on the eastern side above the grave of Basil Fool for Christ (yurodivy Vassily Blazhenny), a Russian Orthodox saint after whom the cathedral was popularly named.

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Saint Basil's is located at the southeast end of Red Square, just across from the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin. Not particularly large, it consists of nine chapels built on a single foundation. The cathedral's design follows that of contemporary tented churches, notably those of Ascension in Kolomenskoye (1530) and of St John the Baptist's Decapitation in Dyakovo (1547).

The interior of the cathedral is a collection of separate chapels, each filled with beautiful icons, medieval painted walls, and varying artwork on the top inside of the domes. The feeling is intimate and varied, in contrast to Western cathedrals which usually consist of a massive nave with one artistic style.

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In a garden at the front of the cathedral stands a bronze statue commemorating Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, who rallied Russia's volunteer army against the Polish invaders during the Time of Troubles in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It was built in 1555 -1561 by Ivan.

The initial concept was to build a cluster of chapels, one dedicated to each of the saints on whose feast day the tsar had won a battle, but the construction of a single central tower unifies these spaces into a single cathedral. As a historical fact Ivan had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded to prevent him from building a more magnificent building for anyone else.

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Saint Basil's Cathedral should not be confused with the Moscow Kremlin, which is situated right next to it on Red Square. It is not at all a part of the Moscow Kremlin. However, many publications do make the mistake of calling this structure the Kremlin. The misconception has inadvertently been reinforced by Western television journalists, who have often stood in front of St. Basil's during their reports.

Phone: (495) 698-3304

Address: 103012, Moscow, Red square, 2

Location: Metro Stations: Ploshad Revolytsii, Okhotny Ryad, Kitai-gorod

Working hours: Open: from November to April, 11am - 4pm; from May to October, 10am - 5pm.



20-09-2008, 12:07
The Tretyakov Gallery

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The Tretyakov Gallery dates from 1856, when the purchase of Nikolai Schilder's painting The Temptation saw the beginning of the collecting activities of the young, wealthy Moscow merchant, Pavel Tretyakov (1832 - 1898). Whereas his first acquisitions followed no clear pattern, paintings by Vasily Perov, added to the collection in the sixties, determined paths which the Gallery was to follow. There was to be a collection of Russian painting, the fulfilment of a historic mission - that of patriotic and moral education of the people.

Pavel Tretyakov acquired the very best from contemporary painters in Moscow and St Petersburg. The collection contains many works by members of the Society for Circulating Art Exhibitions (The Peredvizhniki). Often taking part in the selection of pictures were such outstanding painters as Ivan Kramskoi and Ilya Repin, the critic Vladimir Stasov and other Russian cultural figures; this turned Tretyakov's collection into a veritable centre of Russia's artistic life.

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Seeking fullness and diversity in his display of Russian pictorial art, Pavel Tretyakov wanted the outstanding masters to be represented by works reflecting all the main stages in their creative careers. From the late sixties he started to collect canvases by painters of the first half of the 19th century, and then 18th century paintings, as yet little known at that time. Tretyakov, who was the first to appreciate the new trends that appeared in Russian painting at the end of the 19th century, started acquiring the works of then young and still little-known artists. In the seventies Tretyakov began to systematically acquire, and even specially commission, portraits of Russian cultural figures and it was highly appreciated by the Russian public.

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The collector's brother, Sergei Tretyakov, was also a connoisseur of art who collected pictures not only by Russian, but also by French and Dutch painters. The Tretyzakov brothers' mansion in Lavrushinsky Lane had to be expanded in 1872 to accommodate the two collections. Subsequently rebuilding had to be undertaken five times. Six more rooms had to be added in 1882 to accommodate the vast Turkestan series of paintings by Vasily Vereshchagin. The modern facade of the Gallery was added to the Tretyakov's mansion in 1902 to a design by Victor Vasnetsov.

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The collection of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov was opened to the public in I874 as a private museum and rapidly became very popular.

In 1892 Pavel Tretyakov presented his collection, by that time already famous, to the city of Moscow.

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Pavel Tretyakov remained the life-long Curator of the Gallery. Upon his death in 1898 the Gallery was headed by a Board, on which served the well-known collector and artist Ilya Ostroukhov, the famous painter Valentin Serov and Pavel Tretyakov's daughter Anna Botkina, as well as a number of other cultural figures. In 1905 at the Board's initiative, which deemed it its task to carry on the work of the founder, the chronological frameworks of the collections were enlarged to include a Department of' Old Russian Art. Pavel Tretyakov was one of the first in Russia to appreciate icons as monuments of artistic endeavour. His collection of about sixty works of Old Russian painting were not displayed, remaining his own property to the end of his life. Under his will they went to the Gallery and formed the nucleus of this Department "The Board concentrated on the acquisition of works of contemporary Russian art, which, amidst the struggle of trends, opinions and tastes rife in the artistic life of Russia at the beginning of the century, proved a far from easy task. The prominent painter, art historian and public figure, Igor Grabar, was appointed the Gallery's Curator in 1913. At his insistence, the former so-called "carpet" hanging of pictures in the order of their acquisition, was replaced by the historical-chronological principle, devoting separate rooms to the work of major Russian painters. The new layout meant a radical reform of museum theory. Grabar himself defined the reform essence as "work to convert a privately owned collection into a museum of European standards". The implementation of the reform of the display demanded resolution and energy. The Gallery adheres to its basic principles to this day.

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In 1917 the collection numbered 4,060 items. By a Decree of the Soviet government of June 3, 1918, signed by Lenin, the Gallery was nationalized. From a municipal museum, the Tretyakov Gallery was transformed into a state museum. In the twenties the Gallery was enlarged through the addition of the collections of the major Moscow collectors I. Ostroukhov and I. Tsvetkov, S.Shcherbatov, of paintings from the Historical Museum and of works of art from palaces, estates and churches. During those years paintings by Western European, mostly Dutch and French masters, were transferred from the Tretyakav Gallery to what is today the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. This made the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery more uniform and altered its structure. During the thirties the growth of the collection made it necessary to build another 16 new halls, which doubled the area of the former building. The most spacious hall was designed to accommodate the painting The Appearance of Christ to the' People by Alexander Ivanov. This huge canvas, which marked a whole stage in the history of Russian painting, was handed over to the Gallery together with a rich collection of the painter's studies and sketches from the Rumiantsev Museum. At the same time the Gallery received a number of works by Russian sculptors of the late 18th and early 19th centuries which put the beginning to a Department of Sculpture.

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The formation of a Department of Soviet Art began in the Tretyakov Gallery in 1918, and the acquisition, starting in the late twenties, of paintings from exhibitions and from the studios of Soviet painters assumed broad scope. The Department of Soviet Art has outstanding works by painters from all the Union Republics. It reveals the role of art in the building of a new society.

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Pavel Tretyakov also started a collection of Russian graphic art. Since in his time drawing was regarded as a secondary art, the collection was neither systematic nor substantial. Its character changed in 1926 when the Tretyakov Gallery acquired the Tsvetkov collection, which reflects the main stages in the development of draughtsmanship in Russia. This allowed the Tretyakov Gallery to create a Department of Graphic Art. Soon afterwards water-colours and drawings by Alexander Ivanov were handed over to the Gallery from the Rumiantsev Museum. From the thirties the Gallery began to acquire drawings, book illustrations and graphic art in, its own right by Soviet masters. As a result, the Gallery's collections in the Soviet period increased more than ten-fold. Today it is a depository of some 47,000 works of art, and the average annual number of visitors is 1,700,000. The Department of Icons, created at the turn Q the century has been enriched in Soviet times by a number of remarkable monuments. Handed over to the Gallery from the Cathedral of the Assumption was the icon The Virgin of Vladimir. Painted in Byzantiiim in the 12th century the icon was brought to Kiev from Constantinople. Kept at first among the ti easiness of the Grand Ducal residence of Vyshgorod near Kiev, the icon was brought secretly by Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky to the city of Vladimir in 1115. The icon was given the name of Vladimir and was regarded as the guardian of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality. With the rise of the Moscow Principality in the 15th century the icon was moved to Moscow's Kremlin and began to be revered as the palladium of the Russian state.

Phone: (495) 230-77-88, 951-1362, 238-1378

Address: 119017, Moscow, 10, Lavrushinskii Peryulok

Location: Metro stations: 'Tretyakovskaya' or 'Novokuznetskaya'

Working hours: Open every day except Monday, 10am - 7.30pm. The ticket office is open 10am - 6.30pm.

Website: www.tretyakovgallery.ru