The City of Art

The harmonious, exquisite beauty of St. Petersburg is mostly associated with masterpieces of architectural ensembles and palaces. However, the interiors of these grand buildings, many of which are housing fine art museums, are also worth a fascinated look. 

Let’s begin our journey from the the Russian Academy of Arts Museum, the oldest collection of fine art exhibits in the city. Permanent expositions of the museum comprise three forms of fine art: painting, sculpture, architecture. On the ground floor you can see 33 halls with moulds which were made from ancient Egyptian, Greek and medieval originals by Russian sculptors. The 2nd floor displays painting exhibits of the Academy of Arts graduates. Just take a look at the majestic copies of Italian frescos, portraits of Imperial family members and ambiguous works of the XXth century painters. Go upstairs and visit the 3rd floor, where you will marvel at the models of historic buildings and palaces remembering the early days of the city. Compare the current look of St. Isaac’s and Smolny cathedrals with what they could have been.

It only takes a short trip to the other side of Vasilievsky Island - to make a transition from the traditional Russian fine art to a more contemporary experience. The ERARTA museum welcomes those who wish to wonder at the strange, obscure, sometimes shocking, but never-leaving-you-indifferent modern art. Clearly, the art of a particular period reflects what's going on in people's minds during this time. And perhaps, in our information-overloaded century it is the only way to describe eluding, vague, slightly anxious feelings. Who knows, probably this museum will help you better understand the people with whom you share the same time and space. Art-festivals, cinemas and concerts are held in ERARTA on quite a regular basis.  

History of the Roerichs, a family of outstanding painters, writers, archaeologists and travelers, is associated with the Vasilievsky Island. This is where Nikolay Roerich, a creator of astonishing pictures, was born - in the house on Universitetskaya embankment, then studied - in the Imperial Academy of Arts, and later got married to Elena Shaposhnikova. Nowadays, in the 8th line of the Vasilievsky Island, the Roerich family Museum and Institute is opened for visitors. It is located in the the former mansion of Mikhail Botkin, a famous painter and collector, where Nikolay Roerich used to be a frequent guest. The museum collection numbers 15,000 items, including personal belongings, archaeological evidence and art objects of the Roerich family.

N. Roerich had always admired his teacher Archip Kuindzhi, the master of splendid landscapes, and held him in high esteem. It is possible that the series of Kuindzhi pictures devoted to Caucasus had inspired the famous, mountainous views painted by Roerich. Kuindzhi spent the last thirteen years of his life in 1 H., Birzhevoy lane - which is now a memorial A. Kuindzhi museum. He chose this apartment because of the attic studio with huge garret windows, filling the space with light. Furniture, archive photos and the special atmosphere of the artist’s studio are well preserved until today. Kuindzhi was a professor of landscape painting in the Imperial Academy of Arts and he actively did charities, too. The large part of different pictures in the museum belonged to his students -  not to the painter himself.

If you wish to trace how St. Petersburg avant-garde art was conceived and developed, head out towards the Matiushin’s house in 10, Pr. Popova Str. In this beautiful, carved wooden house you will understand the difference between pre- and post-revolutional avant-garde, learn about the activity of State Institute of Artistic Culture, where the main figures of Russian avant-garde had worked. Among them were K. Malevitch, N. Punin, L. Brik, V. Mayakovsky. Except Matiushin’s studio, you can see the works of his spouse - Elena Guro. They are displayed in her recreation room. Visit this unusual museum and feel like a guest at the futurists’ meeting.

The State Russian museum, established by a decree of the emperor Nikolay II, is a true highlight among Petersburg fine art museums. The plentiful collection of exhibits contains 40 thousand items and celebrates nearly a thousand-year history of Russian art. Admire the Old Russian Art, represented by 5 000 icons; enjoy famous masterpieces of the XVIII-XIX centuries, as well as the exhibits of the XX century. The main museum building consists of the Mikhailovsky Palace, named after its first owner, Grand Duke Michael, and the Benua building, which was originally built as an exhibitional pavilion of the Russian Academy of Arts.

The unique museum of Urban Sculpture in St. Petersburg is the only one in Russia. Its collection consists of urban constructions outside and memorial art headstones. On the grounds of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery there are two necropoleis, formerly used as cemeteries. The Lazarevskoe cemetery - one of the oldest in the city, houses burial places of Peter I contemporaries: statesmen, people of art, science and old noble families. Today it is known as "The XVIII-century Necropolis". The Tikhvinskoe cemetery, which has now become "The Masters of Art Necropolis", features a collection of superb monuments, created by famous architects and sculptors. These monuments are devoted to F. Dostoevsky, V. Zhukovsky, P. Chaikovsky, A. Kuindzhi, P. Klodt and many other famous figures.

Another original collection of decorative fine arts is represented by the unique items of Fabergé museum. Nine imperial Easter eggs, attracting a particular interest of visitors, are displayed in reconstructed interiors of the Shuvalovsky palace along with samples of various jewellery art by Faberge house and their contemporaries. Expositions in the ten halls are presented with a great taste. The interiors and exhibits both look so refined that the visitors will undoubtedly feel a true aesthetic pleasure.