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17 October 2023 – 21 January 2024

Chelyabinsk, State Historical Museum of the Southern Urals

Organized by

The Moscow Kremlin Museums, State Historical Museum of the Southern Urals


The Moscow Kremlin Museums


Icon of the Pantocrator

The Moscow Kremlin Museums continue its fruitful cooperation with the State Historical Museum of the Southern Urals – this exhibition is the sixth joint project. The theme of the exhibition, dedicated to Russian piety, temple decoration and icon worship, is organic for the Moscow Kremlin Museums, which conserve precious relics from cathedrals built by order of Russian rulers.

The tradition of making rich offerings to the Church developed in Russia immediately after the adoption of Christianity. The creation and multiplication of precious objects was an integral part of the temple-building activities of all Russian rulers. Over the centuries, wealthy people donated various utensils and their family relics to the temples with a prayer for themselves and all their relatives, living and deceased. Valuable objects were often decorated with elaborate inscriptions telling the story of their creation. The best court masters were commissioned by representatives of the Russian aristocracy to create a variety of church objects from precious materials, reflecting the tastes and artistic preferences of those who commissioned them.

The display features over one hundred and fifty pieces of outstanding historical, artistic and memorial value. Some works have left the walls of the Kremlin Museum for the first time. The exposition covers a significant chronological period – from the 14th century to the beginning of the 20th century, providing a broad historical retrospective.

The first part of the exhibition presents different types of valuable objects that demonstrate the completeness and luxury of the temple decoration, i.e. liturgical utensils, fabrics, as well as icons from the 16th to the early 20th centuries in precious frames. A separate theme concerns veneration of the saints glorified during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II. For the first time, a unique complex concerning the glorification of Patriarch Hermogenes in 1913 and the unveiling of his relics for public veneration in the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin will be exhibited in its entirety.

A special area of the exhibition is devoted to religious attributes that accompanied people throughout their lives. There are measuring icons made shortly after the birth of royal children, icons used to bless Russian empresses at their weddings, and family relics donated to churches and monasteries after the death of their owners to commemorate their souls. Of great importance are works by Russian and European silversmiths – contributions of high-born personalities to the famous monasteries of Russia.

One of the showcases is devoted to the precious decoration of the highly venerated Kremlin icons, viz Our Lady of Bogolyubovo and Our Lady of Vladimir. Visitors can also see rare pieces of jewellery offered to the icons by the faithful through a vow.

The last section of the exhibition introduces personal, family piety objects, which represented the ‘holiness’ of the household and were handed down from generation to generation. Among them there are exceptional works that belonged to the personal collection of Grand Prince Sergey Alexandrovich. After his death they were placed in the burial vault consecrated to St Sergius of Radonezh in the Chudov Monastery in the Moscow Kremlin. The history of pilgrimage traditions is the final focus of the display.