Jordanville Russian History Museum lends items to exhibit in Russia
When the Russian Tsarskoe Selo Museum-Preserves in St. Petersburg began looking for items to include in a new exhibit, one of the sources the curator turned to was a museum in Jordanville, New York.
About fifty objects from the Museum of Russian History, located at 1407 Robinson Road on the grounds of the Holy Trinity Monastery, are included in an exhibition entitled “In the Stirrup of the Sovereign”, which examines the history mounted military units that escorted Tsars and Emperors.
The exhibit brought together artefacts from several Russian lending institutions, but the Jordanville Museum was the only foreign lender.
Among the loans are the St. George Standard banner of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Escort and elements of uniforms worn by members of the Imperial Escort, including a beshmet (shirt), papakha (wool cap) and cherkeska ( tunic).
Some of the artifacts and documents left Russia after the Revolution and the Russian Civil War, while others were created by members of the Diaspora Escort, according to Michael Perekrestov, executive director of the Museum of Russian History.
In recent years, the local museum has loaned objects to several international venues, including the Science Museum in London, the Manege in Moscow and the Ikonenmuseum in Frankfurt.
Open to visitors
The Russian History Museum, located in a building behind the golden domes of the monastery, visible from Route 167 outside Jordanville, opened its current exhibition, âRevealing the Divine: Treasures of Russian Sacred Artâ, for in-person visits in June. The exhibition, which offers a look at ecclesiastical art in the life of the Russian Orthodox, will be on display until the end of 2021. It features over 160 liturgical and devotional objects created in the Russian Orthodox tradition from the 18th century to the present , including artifacts on loan from private collections as well as items from the museum’s own collection.
âThere is a story behind every artifact,â Perekrestov said.
A 19th-century bishop’s garment arrived in the United States with American filmmaker and photographer Julien Bryan, who documented daily life in Poland, the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1939, including the Nazi invasion from Poland. Items were looted and sold in Moscow during this time and Bryan purchased the garment believing the material could be used to make a garment. An American customs officer told him that he had something special and that the garment remained intact. Bryan’s son eventually donated it to the museum.
âHe’s from pre-revolutionary Russia and he’s in incredible condition,â Perekrestov said.
Some artefacts were from the Romanovs, the ruling family for over 300 years until the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917 following the February 1917 revolution. He and his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, their five children and four servants were murdered by their Bolshevik captors the following year. Other family members have gone into exile abroad.
Some families who left Russia took away sacred objects and they or their descendants eventually donated them to the monastery museum, where they were restored, if necessary, preserved and cared for.
There are also icons depicting biblical figures or saints on display. They are not objects of worship, explained Perekrestov. âThey are windows to the sky, to a spiritual reality. ”
An exhibit features religious artifacts that some of the exiles from a displaced persons camp in Western Europe created from found objects, such as a chalice made from a pot handle and a candlestick.
Programs and visits
When programming switched to an online format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff were surprised at the response, said Hannah Phillips, public engagement coordinator.
The museum’s second Saturday lecture series, presented free of charge via Zoom, attracted more than 1,000 participants from dozens of countries. The lectures are recorded and published on the museum’s YouTube channel, where the most popular topics, such as “The Private World of Nicholas and Alexandra” and “The Last Days of the Russian Aristocracy” have garnered thousands of views.
Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday with regular tours at 1 p.m. Thursday and by appointment. Regular admission is $ 8 for adults, $ 5 for seniors and students; children under 12 are admitted free. The cost of admission with a guided tour is $ 15, $ 10 for seniors and students.
To make reservations for a tour or for more information, visit the website at www.russianhistorymuseum.org or call 315-858-2468.
Donna Thompson is the Times Telegram’s government and business reporter. Email him at [email protected]