Multi-museum exhibition: The Last Emperor of Russia
Location: Smolny Cathedral, a public concert and exhibition center
Dates: July 15 through August 2, 1998
Opening: July 15, 1998, at noon
Open: daily from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M.. Ticket office closes at 6P.M.
It is logical and well justified that The Last Emperor of Russia exhibition, timed to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the royal family.s execution in Yekaterinburg, will be opened on the eve of the burial of the royal remains at the Peter & Paul Cathedral.
The exhibition was conceived and implemented by the Multi-Museum Council of the Culture Committee of St. Petersburg City Hall. Exhibits have been contributed by 12 St. Petersburg museums, 3 archives, the Russian National Library, the Grand Duke Golitsine Memorial Library and others (the list of contributors is enclosed).
The exhibition is unique in its own way.
This is the first time that the organizers of an exhibition devoted to a royal family deliberately ignored all historical and political opinions about Russia.s last emperor, who was neither the best nor the worst Russian ruler of the 20th century.
This is the first time that Nicholas II is shown as a common man with a rich inner world, not as a symbolic figure. The visitor will not simply see a royal family. Instead, he will be introduced to a common Russian family which has, through an inscrutable whim of destiny, become a national symbol.
The exhibition will be devoid of both gala portraiture and official documentary photography. It will lack the splendor of a royal court.
Most of the exhibits will be personal possessions of the royal family members. These will form the platform of the display. Photographs will serve as a backdrop. However, the photographs displayed will be unofficial, showing the family in different personal moments of its life.
The photographs will range from those radiating the unadulterated joy of life to shots permeated with the depressive and anguished presentiment of an imponderably bitter end, in which the royals-turned-prisoners still refused to believe.
A 30-minute documentary on the royal family.s life will be premiered at the exhibition. The video was kindly produced by the St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio.
Although being a memorial event by nature, this exhibition will not be what one might call "a wreath for the emperor.s grave."
We created this exhibition with a view towards greater accord and reconciliation between the different community groups whose perceptions of Russia.s last emperor are in conflict. We refer those who have hard feelings against the emperor on account of his abdication to the text of his deed of abdication, which was written by Nicholas II himself. From the deed it transpires that Russia had abdicated its emperor before he abdicated the throne. Sadly, not a single army officer stayed with the emperor at the Alexandrovsky Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. Even the priest had left its congregation of sincere and profound believers. Regrettably, not a single serious attempt to set the royal family free was made during their imprisonment.
We would like to remind those who denounce the emperor.s actions of the words Patriarch Tikhon said long ago, four days after the execution:
"We are not in a position to assess and judge the ways of our former strongman. Impartial judgment on him is in the domain of history. He has to face Our Lord.s impartial judgment, but we know that in abdicating the throne he had the best interests of Russia in mind. He could have found safety and relatively untroubled life outside Russia after his abdication, but he chose to stay by Russia in its time of suffering."
We would like to respond to those who seek revenge by quoting the emperor.s own words passed through his daughter Princess Olga Nikolayevna:
"My father asked me to tell all those who are still loyal to him and those who hold their opinion in esteem not to try to avenge him as he has pardoned everyone, and is praying for everyone".
We intended this event to be a tribute to those who abode by their oath, once given, until the bitter end; those who, unlike aristocrats, noblemen and snobs with their conceit and arrogance, went through the hardships of imprisonment as one family, and ascended the Russian Golgotha.
Exhibition concept by V.I. Gribanov
Display by B.N. Rybalko, Honorary Culture Scholar of Russia
Artwork by V.P. Nalivaiko
THE EXHIBITION WAS CREATED BY:
Smolny Cathedral, a public concert and exhibition center
Peterhof National Preserve Museum
Pavlovsk State Preserve Museum
State Museum of Drama and Music
State Museum of Urban Sculpture
The Peter & Paul Fortress and State Museum of St. Petersburg History historical & cultural preserve
Central Museum of the Navy
Military History Museum of Artillery, Military Engineering and Telecommunications
State Memorial Museum of A.V. Suvorov
State Museum of History of Religions
Russian Ethnography Museum
Military Medical Museum
Museum of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory
Popov Central Museum of Telecommunications
St. Petersburg Documentary Film Studio
Russian National Library
Russian State Historical Archives
Central State Archives of Films and Photography
Golitsine Memorial Library
General sponsor: Gelos Antique Auction House
Sponsor: Fund for Financial Support of Alexander Nevsky Lavra.s Restoration
Security services during the exhibition are provided by Vigor
Press-centre of the ceremony reports