The State Russian Museum is the world’s largest collection of Russian art, housed in a unique architectural complex in the historical centre of St Petersburg.
It was the first museum of Russian art, initiated by Emperor Alexander III. Later, in 1895, Emperor Nicholas II signed a decree ordering “The foundation of a special establishment named ‘The Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III’ and the assignment of Mikhailovsky Palace with all outbuildings, services and the garden, specially acquired by the state treasury for this purpose”. In May of same year architect Svinyin started the reconstruction of the palace interiors for accommodating future collections of art.
The solemn opening of the Russian Museum took place on March 19 (7), 1898. The basis of the collection was objects and works of art handed over from the Winter, Gatchina and Alexander Palaces, from the Hermitage and the Academy of Arts, as well as from private collections donated to the museum.
The museum collection contains over 400 000 exhibits covering all major periods and trends in the history of Russian art, all main types and genres, trends and schools of Russian art over more than a thousand years: from the X to the XXI century.
The main retrospective exhibition of the museum is located in Mikhailovsky Palace (architect Carlo Rossi, 1819-1825), built for the son of Emperor Pavel I, Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, and in the Benois Wing, originally designed as an exhibition pavilion for the Academy of Arts (architects L.N. Benois and I.S. Ovsyannikov, 1914-1919).
Today, the area of the museum complex is more than 30 hectares. The collection is accommodated in buildings that are outstanding monuments of the XVIII-XIX century architecture: Mikhailovsky, Stroganov, Marble Palaces, and Mikhailovsky Castle. Mikhailovsky Garden, Summer Garden and Peter I’s Summer Palace as well as Cabin of Peter the Great are also part of the museum complex.
The State Russian Museum today is an extensive museum complex. It is a large authoritative research, restoration, preservation, and educational centre, supervising the work of all art museums of the country.