The State Russian Museum
Address: 2 Griboyedov Canal
Open hours: 10.00 – 17.00
The Russian Museum was established in 1895 and opened on March 14, 1898 in the Mikhailovsky Palace. The original collection consisted of 80 canvases from the Hermitage collection, 120 - from the Academy of Fine Arts and 200 - from various royal palaces. So many pieces of art were donated to the Russian Museum after 1898 that an additional Benois Building was constructed in 1914-16 to house the growing collection of the museum. After the revolution of 1917 collection of the Russian Museum grew quickly due to "nationalization" (requisition) of art from numerous private collections.
Mikhailovsky Palace, although remodelled to house a museum, is a fine neo-classical building with a stunningly beautiful facade and a few interesting interiors. The main facade of the palace with an exquisite portico and an entrance flanked by two sculptures of lions is a focal point of the Arts Square.The palace was built in 1819-25 by the architect Carlo Rossi for Grand Duke Mikhail (younger brother of Alexander I and Nicholas I).
In the end of the 19th century the palace was bought by the government and was given to the newly-formed Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III. The palace was damaged during World War II (the Siege of Leningrad), but was soon restored and last year revamped again for this year's Centennial celebrations.
The Russian Museum collection contains circa 400.000 exhibits. The main building of the museum and was showcasing the creme de la creme of Russian Art. Currently it shows art from the early Russian icons to early 20th century paintings. Displayed at Mikhailovsky Palace are excellent Russian icons, including some by Andrey Rublyov, portraits by Rokotov, Levitsky, Borovikovsky and Shubin, works by Brullov, Bruni and Ivanov, seascapes by Aivazovsky, historical paintings and portraits by Surikov and Repin, landscapes by Kuingi and Levitan, paintings by Vasnetsov, Korovin, Vrubel, Nesterov, Benois, Somov, Dobuzhinsky, Bakst, Serov, sculptures by Trubetskoy, Grabar, Serebryakova, Kustodiev, Rerikh and many others.
Over the past twenty years, the museum complex has grown to include the Stroganov Palace, St Michael's (Engineers) Castle and the Marble Palace. The complex also includes the Mikhailovsky Gardens, Engineering Gardens, Summer Garden (including the Summer Palace) and the House of Peter the Great.