Saint Petersburg


Studies In Scarlet


This October marks the hundredth anniversary of the October revolution and the city’s leading museums are marking the event with special exhibitions.


The best place to start a review of the numerous exhibitions is probably at the new permanent display “Revolution in Russia. 1917—1922” in the Museum of Russian Political History ( Posters and pamphlets, medals and weapons, photographs, documents and film stills from the time highlight the tragedy of Russians caught in the epicentre of the armed struggle of various political forces. Many unique exhibits were transferred to the museum (then the Museum of Revolution) in 1919 by direct participants in the events — for example, Nikolay Podvoisky’s gold watch by which he determined the time of the storming of the Winter Palace.


The Hermitage ( is featuring a large-scale project entitled “The Storming of the Winter Palace” for the centenary. It has comprised a number of specific exhibitions in various rooms of the museum throughout the year. A display entitled “The Winter Palace and the Hermitage in 1917” opens on the afternoon of 25 October, and in the evening there will be a video mystery in Palace Square during which the Winter Palace and the General Staff Headquarters Building will turn red — the colour of their facades in 1917.


The State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg ( is launching a special programme “Inspiration in Red”, encompassing almost all of its branches. For example, at The Kirov Museum visitors can learn how it was proposed to create a new type of person — a builder of communism. In the interactive exhibition “Totally Remaking Man” they can “join” the pioneers, the Komsomol and the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks after “collecting” scrap paper, completing tests in political literacy and other tasks from the political literature of the 1920s and 1930s. And on 20 October a display entitled “Inspiration in Red” opens at the Rumyantsev Mansion: formal and informal portraits of party and military leaders and monumental paintings on revolutionary themes. The display also features “Windows of Growth” posters, propaganda porcelain with Soviet symbols and portraits of leaders of the USSR. While on the subject of propaganda porcelain, some outstanding examples can be seen not only in museums. The Imperial Porcelain Factory’s collection now contains copies of museum pieces and modern variations on the theme: services, decorative plates, sculptures and even a “Reds and Whites” chess set by Natalya Danko (based on a museum example).


There are several outstanding displays at the Russian Museum ( In the Benois Wing you can see “Dreams of World Prosperity” featuring the work of leading masters from the first half of the 20th century, when artists and writers reacted in different ways to the historical cataclysms. The simple and universal art of the poster is presented in all its glory at the Marble Palace (p. 86) in the display “Posters of the Revolutionary Era”. It includes around a hundred propaganda and educational posters — some by celebrated masters, others by unknown artists. Just as interesting is the exhibition “Children of the Land of the Soviets”, also in the Marble Palace. The painting, graphic art, sculpture and decorative applied art from the 1920s to 1980s reflect the realities of the lives of young citizens of the Soviet Union with amazing accuracy and insight.


Contemporary artists have also paid attention to the theme of revolutionary change. On 25 October the Museum of 20th and 21st Century St. Petersburg Art ( is opening a large-scale international exhibition entitled “Rights to the Future”. Over eighty artists from Russia, Italy and Greece, including classic 20th century names, well-known masters and young representatives of the art scene, will present their own views on the current and future structure of the world and on the history of transformations and revolutions. Painting, graphic art and sculpture, numerous installations, art objects and video art will feature various connotations of the theme and various artistic embodiments of the image of revolution, which is seen as a metaphor.

Photos are provided by the museums’ PR-services

Where St.Petersburg

November 2018

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