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Monday, December 2, 2013

The Russian Museum

Several people, Russian and American alike, commented that they preferred the Russian Museum over the Hermitage.  Considering that I was looking for inside activities while in St. Petersburg, this sounded like a good option.

The Mikhailovsky Palace was originally built in 1819-182117 by  Alexander I for his fourth son, Mikhail.  In 1898 Alexander III bought the palace and converted it into a public museum.  Sadly, most of the interior looks rather institutionalized with plain plaster walls covering what I would guess were ornate crumbling ones.  But when you go up the main staircase to the first floor exhibits, the interior has been beautifully restored.  Frescoed ceilings and gilded plasterwork took my attention away from the art.  I really have no idea what was displayed in those rooms because the setting was so beautiful.  

Over 300,000 items ranging from thirteenth century icons to textiles, to folk art are on display throughout the palace.  What I discovered here was that I love Russian art.  Russians are considered a non-expressive people, but in their art depth and feeling comes through.  Faces radiate joy, pain and sorrow.  Exquisite detail is depicted in costume and dress.  The embroidery  on peasant dresses and head scarves looked realistic.  Bold color made even the dreariest winter scene enticing.  Russia truly has her art masters.

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