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March, 11, 2006 - October, 4, 2006

Moscow Kremlin Museums

Organized by:
The Moscow Kremlin Museums with participation of the State History Museum and Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts

Portrait of Emperor Alexander IThe theme "Russian Emperors and the Armoury Chamber" has not become such a noteworthy subject matter at random during this year, when the 200th Anniversary of Moscow Kremlin Museums is celebrated. The history of museum in the Kremlin - the very heart of the country - has always been inseparably linked with the history of the Russian State. As a treasure-house, the Museum with all its national reliquiae and collected wealth has been drawing special attention of the authorities. At times beneficial at other times adversely, these circumstances have affected the existence of the Museum and caused a significant role of Emperors in the course of the developing of funds as well as the influence on ideological foundations of expositions.

The purpose of the exhibition is revealing of the peculiarity of the Armoury Chamber's formation and activity as the first Russian court museum of Russian history and antiquities.

In many ways, the history of the Armoury Chamber is similar to destiny of the treasure-houses and collected works developed at courts of the greatest rules in Europe and Asia, at the same time though it is unique. The Kremlin Tsars' collections have been known from the historical sources since the 14th century. They were based on patrimonial treasury of Great Moscow Princes. From the time that Saint-Petersburg became the capital, Moscow remained to be a spiritual centre of the country and a place for the enthronement of Russian Emperors to take place. These very events were the occasion for particular development of the ancient treasury, which was left in the Kremlin and transformed into a museum on March, 10, 1806, on the order of Emperor Alexander I.

The idea of military triumph and national power was the most important fact in the forming of the Kremlin museum, its exposition and even name. A significant figure of a sovereign- triumpher was made by the portraits with historical armours, in the image of an "eternal victor". The most part of the display was occupied with the colossal collection of ancient tsars' weapons and arms, the salvage since the times of Peter the Great, memorials dedicated to the Russian military glory since the times of Emperors Nicholas I and Alexander I.

An important place in the museum belonged to the objects of the Tsars' treasury of stables, which took part in the sovereign's processions and royal hunt.

The theme of gifts to the rulers is remarkably revealed by the demonstration of the splendid ambassadorial gifts' collection, belonging to the Moscow Tsars of the 16th to the 17th century. One extraordinary event happened to be particularly noteworthy. The one when the collection was widened in precious gifts from  the Turkish sultan to Empress Catherine the Great. It became the sequential action in the course of the ancient tradition.

The jubilee exhibition "Russian Emperors and the Armoury Chamber" explains the court status of the museum and represents it as a brilliant and significant cultural phenomenon, as original and complex monument of "imperial art" in Russia. The presented material is arranged according to the periods of the Russian monarchs' reign as in the18th to the early 20th century history was percepted as a personified process of rulers' replacement. Each group includes artworks dated from different periods of reign, royal and imperial portraits and reliquiae are placed together and have concern with the rank of the sacred coronation. The memorial items, related to the names of the Tsars, play a great role within the exhibition. The other remarkable part of items indicate the very development and events happening in the lifetime of the museum as a state institution.

As a result, the exhibition sums up the research of the museum history by our research fellows. The considerable part of the exposed art pieces and records belong to the collections, not exhibited on permanent displays.