State Russian Museum
ul. Inzhenernaya, 4, St. Petersburg, 191186
Phones: +7 (812) 347-87-04
Web site: rusmuseum.ru
Learn all about the styles and trends of Russian art from different historical periods, see the canvases of great Russian artists and rare icons, and admire the masterpieces of architecture.
The collection of the Russian Museum is housed in buildings that in themselves are outstanding architectural monuments: the Mikhailovsky, Stroganovsky and Marble Palaces, and Mikhailovsky Castle. The museum complex also includes the Mikhailovsky Garden, the Summer Garden with the Summer Palace of Peter I and the house of Peter I. The main exposition is located in Mikhailovsky Palace, as well as in the Benois building. The most complete collection of paintings is that of works from the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century. Collections of works by artists of the second half of the 19th century (such as Repin, Surikov, Klodt, Aivazovsky, etc.), and the 19th – early 20th centuries (Levitan, Vrubel, Serov, etc.) are also presented. The museum has a large selection of Soviet art and a section dedicated to the latest art trends (installations and assemblies, video art, photography, and photo-based art). The section dedicated to Old Russian art, where icons of the 12th–15th centuries painted by Andrei Rublev, Dionisy, Simon Ushakov and other great masters of icon painting are widely represented, is of particular interest. All in all, the museum houses about five thousand icons painted in the period up to the beginning of the 20th century.
The Russian Museum is the world’s largest museum of Russian art, and also a unique architectural and artistic complex located in the historical center of St. Petersburg. The decision to found the country’s first state museum of Russian fine arts was made by Emperor Alexander III. After his death, in 1895, the new ruler Nicholas II signed a decree on the establishment of the Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III and on the provision of the Mikhailovsky Palace added to the state treasury with all its wings, services and garden for this purpose. The palace premises were rebuilt for future museum exhibitions. The museum was opened to the public in 1898. The core of its exposition was made up of paintings and other exhibits delivered from the Winter, Gatchina and Alexander Palaces, and also from the Hermitage and the Academy of Arts. Moreover, the exposition includes collections of private collectors, which the owners have donated to the museum. The collection of the museum now has about 400,000 exhibits and covers all historical periods and trends in the development of Russian art, spanning the main types and genres, trends and schools for a period of more than a thousand years, from the 10th century to the present day.
The Mikhailovsky Palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in the center of St. Petersburg. Architect Carlo Rossi created an Empire style ensemble which included a palace, a square and a street associated with the name of the youngest son of Emperor Paul I: Michael. The lower floors of the palace pavilions are decorated with bas-reliefs depicting ancient myths of Dionysus’s wanderings. The magnificent Stroganov Palace was built by architect Fyodor Rastrelli in 1753–1754. Up until 1918, it was owned by the Stroganov dynasty. Mikhailovsky Castle is the most significant example of St. Petersburg architecture of the 18th century. It was erected on the site of the Summer Palace of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna (by architect F. Rastrelli) as the residence for Emperor Paul I. The Marble Palace, located on the Palace Embankment of the Neva river, was built by the Italian Antonio Rinaldi by order of Empress Yekaterina II for her favorite count, G. Orlov. The Benois building was originally intended for arranging exhibitions of various art associations and unions. It became part of the Russian Museum in the early 1930s. The Summer Palace of Peter I was built by architect Domenico Trezzini. Several architects and sculptors from Western Europe took part in creating the design of its facades and interiors. The first project of the Summer Garden belongs to the Dutch gardener Jan Roosen, but later Tsar Peter I made corrections to the plan himself and personally supervised the arrangement of the garden. Mikhailovsky Garden is the most unique monument of landscape architecture of the 18th–19th centuries. The regular (“French”) and the landscape (“English”) styles are surprisingly blended here. The Wooden House of Peter I is the oldest building in St. Petersburg. In documents from Peter’s times, it was mentioned as the “Original Palace” or “Red Mansions”. A blockhouse of dimensions 12.7 × 5.7 m made of hewn pine logs was erected here in 1703 at the place decreed by Peter I himself. Lectures are held and tours are organized in the Russian Museum today. The museum staff (such as art therapists, psychologists, artists and art critics) run diverse projects and programs for people with disabilities.