The Russian Museum
The Russian Museum within Mikhailovsky Palace forms part of the stunning Arts Square complex, which is just a five-minute walk from Nevsky Prospect. A walk along Mikhailovskaya Street brings you to this landmark, one of the most spectacular places in St.Petersburg, designed and built by the architect Carlo Rossi.
Opened in 1898, the State Russian Museum is a remarkable collection of Russian Art from the 11th Century to the present day. The collection includes about 400 000 artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, coins and decorative art objects.
Today the Russian Museum complex includes Mikhailovsky Palace, the Marble Palace, Stroganov Palace, St. Michael’sCastle (otherwise known as the Engineers’ Castle), the Michael Garden and The Summer Garden.
Mikhailovsky Palace was built by Carlo Rossi in 1825 for Prince Michael, the son of Emperor Paul I. The museum’s main collection is housed there and also at the Benois Wing, which is just next door.
St. Michael’s Castle at 2 Sadovaya Street was built by Vincenzo Brenna in 1860 for the Emperor Paul I, who lived there with his family until his assassination in 1861. 20 years later, the castle was transformed into an engineering college, which is why it is also known as the Engineers’ Castle. In 1991 it became part of the Russian Museum complex, with the interior being renovated to accommodate both temporary and permanent exhibitions.
The Benois Wing was designed by Leonty Benois in the Neoclassical style and exhibits the art of the late 19th – early 20th Centuries, as well as Modern Art.
The Rossi wing provides a beautiful overview of Decorative Art, including wood and bone carvings and paintings, ornamental ironwork, decorative fabrics, ceramics and folk toys.
The Russian Museum’s Collection
Ancient Russian Art
The Collection of Ancient Russian Art based in Mikhailovsky Palace features more than 5000 icons of the 13th – early 20th centuries. It is comprised of donations from various museums, including the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, private collections, icons from churches and monasteries shut down during the Soviet era, as well as icons discovered by ancient art expeditions. The oldest icon dates back to the end of the 12th Century, and was found in the Kremlin before the Revolution. Known as “Angel Golden Hair”, it depicts the Archangel Gabriel and was created by an unknown artist.
The icons of the Russian North, from Pskov, Vologda, Arkhangelsk and Belozersk are complemented by an impressive collection of icons from Novgorod: one of the largest and most powerful cities of ancient Russia. The earliest example of the Novgorod school: “Nicola with the Saints”, comes from the Holy Spirit Monastery. Saint Nicholas, the patron and protector of travelers and those hapless, was especially honored in Russia.
Renown worldwide the icons: “Our Lady of Belozerskaya” of early 13th century, “Boris and Gleb” mid-14th century, “St. George and the Dragon,” the second half of the 15th century – are next to the collection of Andrei Rublev, the famous icon painter of the end of 14th – early 15th centuries, his iconostasis of the Uspensky Cathedral in Vladimir, Dionysus and his studio, Simon Ushakov.
Russian Paintings of 18-19 centuries
The Russian Museum collection enjoys the works by famous painters of the 18th – 19th centuries: Ivan Nikitin, Fyodor Rokotov, Dmitry Levitsky, Vladimir Borovikovsky (about 30 works), landscapes and portraits by Alexei Venetsianov (“Reaper,” “Reapers”), portraitist and historical painter Carl Bryullov (“The Last Days of Pompeii”), about 40 works by Ivan Aivazovsky (“The Ninth Wave”), Orest Kiprensky, Alexei Ivanov, Vladimir Vereshchagin.
The paintings of the Traveling Art Association, which proclaimed an educational role of art take several rooms: Nikolai Ge, Ivan Kramskoi, Gregory Myasoedov and Vasily Perov (“Pugachev’s Trial”), Ivan Shishkin (“Ship Grove”), Ilya Repin (“The Cossacks Writing a Letter to the Turkish Sultan”), Viktor Vasnetsov (“Knight at the Crossroads”), an extensive collection of paintings by Viktor Surikov (“The Conquest of Siberia by Yermak”).
Russian Paintings of 19-20 centuries
The Benois Wing hosts the paintings of outstanding artists of the end of19th – early 20th centuries: the fantastic works of Mikhail Vrubel (“Flying Demon”), Nikolai Rerikh, Konstantin Korovin, Valentin Serov, Boris Kustodiev.
The Russian Museum has got a collection of Russian avant-garde by Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova, Niko Pirosmanashvili. The museum is proud of the world’s best collection of works by Kazimir Malevich (about 100 paintings and 20 drawings), as well as an extensive collection of works by Pavel Filonov (about 200 paintings and 200 drawings.)
Working hours and admission fees
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00
Thursday: 13:00 – 21:00
The ticket office is closed an hour earlier.
For the citizens of the Russian Federation:
Adults – 250 rubles, concession fee – 70 rubles
For foreign citizens:
Adults – 350 rubles, concession fee – 150 rubles
For more details about discounts and free admission see the official website of the museum.
How to get there
Mikhailovsky Palace – St.Petersburg, 4 Inzhenernaya Street
Mikhailovsky Castle – 2 Sadovaya Street
The Benois Wing – 2 Griboedov Embankment
The Marble Palace – 5/1 Millionnaya Street
The Stroganov Palace – 17 Nevsky Prospect
The official website of the museum: www.rusmuseum.ru
Phone: +7 812 595-42-48
Public transport: subway station “Nevsky Prospect” or “Gostiny Dvor”, walking distance.
Translation by Svetlana Serebryakova
Edited by Kit Darling