Visiting The Costume Collections of St. Petersburg
Note: This article was written in January 1995, for The
Lady's Gallery. Although it was accepted, and they did not return my color
photros before their demise, it did not appear before the journal folded. Small portions of this article were edited and
altered by my third editor at the St.Petersburg Press, and made into the short
article <a href="../../TARA/1pages/ARTICLES.HTM">"The Empress' Old Clothes"</a>. Prices in
rubles quoted in the article are now completely out of date, given a yearly inflation rate in
Russia of about 100%, but the dollar prices rise a bit more slowly than that, and may only
have risen about 30%. You may print this article out for your
convenience for travel planning.
The St. Petersburg area has many museums to interest the visitor
to Russia, not the least of which are those museums either partly or wholly devoted to
costume. Russian costume museum collections usually differ markedly in style and content
from Western collections, and consequently are additionally interesting because of their
The Ethnographic Museum:
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumarial2t.jpg" border="0" width="94" height="144"></a>
<img src="../ethnomuseum/gb488t.jpg" border="0" width="108" height="75"></a>
For example, the most spectacular display of costume in
St. Petersburg is at the Russian Ethnographical Museum (formerly the Ethnographic
Museum of the Peoples of the USSR). The Ethnographic Museum was originally a part of the
Russian Museum (which is next door) built prior to the 1917 Revolution, however in 1934 it
became a separate entity as, under Stalin, the study, display and enshrinement of
indigenous folk arts of the USSR was used to serve political ends.
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumdisplay1t.jpg" border="0" width="144" height="98"></a>
Unlike English costume museums, which tend to focus on history,
or French ones that stick to costume as couture, Russian costume museums under the Soviets
primarily collected costume as proletarian artwork. As a result Russia has the best museum
collections of "folk" costume worldwide, with the Ethnographic Museum in
St. Petersburg considered to be the preeminent one of its kind. The museum displays a
whopping total of 250,000 objects of folk art, mostly dated from the late 19th and early
20th centuries. A large percentage of these are costumes, jewelry, costume accessories and
textiles. The museum also houses rotating exhibits of contemporary folk arts.
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumdisplay4t.jpg" border="0" width="94" height="144"></a>
All the costumes on display are of uniformly high quality. Most
particularly notable are the costumes in the hall devoted to ethnic Russian peasant dress.
Routinely you can find art and design students in this hall sketching the costumes for
class projects or for sale to the main Museum gift shop. Also on display are items from
the other Republics which made up the former USSR. A particularly spectacular Chukchi
(Eastern Siberian) Shaman's garment is on display on the second floor of the West wing,
and should on no account be missed. There is also a constant rotation of small new
exhibits (now there is a display of restored antique fans) that help to make up for an
equal rotation of small sections of the main collection being closed, presumably for
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumdisplayheadresst.jpg" border="0" width="93" height="144"></a>
The "Ethno" Museum is one of the best under-visited
tourist attractions in the city. Despite being in the very center of St.
scarcely a block from the Grand Hotel Europe, it is never crowded even in the height of
tourist season or on weekends. As a result, the lady security guards, far from turning
into scowling watchdogs (as those stuck in the more overcrowded museums do) are dying to
talk and show their treasures. And it is also one of the cheaper museums for the foreign
tourist to visit. Solely in the main collection there is enough to interest the costume
enthusiast for an entire day. It is helpful to bring along a pocket Russian dictionary,
since all museum captions are in Russian (as they are in all the museums), but generally
the costumes speak for themselves.
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumladiest.jpg" border="0" width="144" height="99"></a> <a href="../ethnomuseum/museumladyanddisplay.jpg">
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumladyanddisplayt.jpg" border="0" width="93" height="144"></a>
guide/guards are friendly and helpful.
The management of the Ethnographic Museum has moved with the
times, and is installing high quality new exhibits in the place of some rather tedious
politically motivated ones left from it's former Soviet self. To raise capital to pay for
improvements the museum maintains three gift buying locations: A main gift shop with
modern folk crafts and books, a small hall displaying St. Petersburg style floral beadwork
jewelry, and a textile arts demonstration area in the Russian hall that sells the products
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumarialt.jpg" border="0" width="144" height="97"></a>
If you have extra cash, or all day to see the whole museum, or
better still both, in addition to the main exhibit (which is almost endless) there are two
"extra" exhibits that cost 5000p ($1.50) each to enter. One is the hard to find
"Gold Hall" which houses the highly valuable jewelry and jewel encrusted costume
accessories of the collection in a bank vault type space. This exhibit shows many of the
magnificent examples of folk jewelry you may have seen in the book Russian Jewelry from
the 16th through 20th Centuries. Take a right towards the Russian hall, then, before
the entrance take a left into the Ukrainian hall, then turn right. The Gold room is hidden
at the far end of the hall, through a small doorway.
[The Ethnographic Museum is sending their "Gold
Room" objects out on tour! See them at their new official web site:
<a href="http://www.oakland.edu/cas/emuseum/rem/ic/ic_fs1.htm" add_date="872498535" last_visit="872498203" last_modified="872498203">Treasures of St.
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumdisplay2t.jpg" border="0" width="93" height="144"></a>
You may only tour the Gold room in tiny groups, with a guide. To
guarantee a spot, and get your tour in English, book one day in advance. The other extra
exhibit is in the central Marble Hall, between the two main galleries. This hall houses
rotating exhibits, whose content and quality tend to vary. However, at present, there is a
true "blockbuster" exhibit in the space, the "Emperor's Collection,"
which has all that glitters in the way of costume and jeweled objects. Especially lovely
are a group of Tartar robes, with highly ornate embroidery. Also interesting is a group of
china figures depicting the costumes of the various ethnic regions of the Russian Empire.
This is not the well known late 18th Century set formerly on display at the Hermitage, but
a 1908-1913 set with far greater detail. This display too has a rare 19th Century Evenskii
Shaman-woman costume, and some spectacular Russian costumes and textiles.
<img src="../ethnomuseum/museumdisplay3t.jpg" border="0" width="93" height="144"></a>
Click Here to see new
color photos of <a href="ETHNOGRA.HTM">The Ethnographic Museum</a> collection.
<a name="The Costume">The Costume</a> Gallery at the Catherine
The next most impressive permanent costume display in the area
is not in St. Petersburg itself, but at the Catherine Palace in the outlying town of
Pushkin (formerly Tzarkoe Selo) the nearby summertime residence of the Tsar and his court.
The Catherine Palace and Park in Pushkin is the tourist destination which visitors to the
city most often rave about. And no wonder, located slightly inland from the swampy
riverfront areas all the other attractions lie on, it enjoys cool unpolluted Springs and
Summers, golden Falls, and sugar frosting Winters. If the weather is bad in St.
it will be nice in Pushkin, if the weather in the city is good, the weather in Pushkin
will be even better. The town also possesses terrific Pre-Revolutionary architecture,
beautiful old tree lined streets, and several good restaurants.
<img border="2" src="../../tara/portfolio/portfolioscans2/catherinepalace_small.jpg" alt="catherinepalace.jpg (76179 bytes)" width="177" height="125"></a>
<img border="2" src="../../tara/portfolio/portfolioscans2/catherineslake_small.jpg" alt="catherineslake.jpg (72199 bytes)" width="172" height="125"></a>
<img border="2" src="../../tara/portfolio/portfolioscans2/catherineswell_small.jpg" alt="catherineswell.jpg (85264 bytes)" width="125" height="172"></a>
The central attraction in Pushkin is the Catherine Park, a
large, lovely, and well maintained 18th Century royal playground. In the Park is the
Catherine Palace, the most aesthetic and comfortable of the royal palaces in the area. To
one side of the main Palace is the Cameron Gallery, built for Catherine II, and now
housing the <a href="../../HISTORY/100pages/camerongallery.htm">Costume Gallery</a> also known as the
"Everyday Life Costumes and Articles of Russia from the End of the 18th to the
Beginning of the 20th Centuries, Court Costumes, Civil Costumes, Court Servant's Costumes
and the Costumes of the [military] Schools" Exhibit. While the display techniques of
this exhibit are antiquated, and the Gallery ill-suited to the purpose, the costumes
themselves are wonderful.
The exhibit contains a great deal of royal costume including the
military dress of the Tzars beginning with Catherine II <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron13.JPG">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron13_small.JPG" alt="cameron13.JPG (13595 bytes)" border="2" width="99" height="145"></a> and ending with Nicholas II, Alexander I's wedding costume
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron21_small.JPG" alt="cameron21.JPG (32040 bytes)" border="2" width="99" height="145"></a>
, pretty pink & silver court dress uniforms <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron10.JPG">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron10_small.JPG" alt="cameron10.JPG (16051 bytes)" border="2" width="55" height="145"></a> for the daughters of Nicholas II, and a whole wardrobe of the Tzarevitch
Alexi <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron5.jpg">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron5_small.jpg" alt="cameron5.jpg (68726 bytes)" border="2" width="145" height="70"></a>
, showing a tiny procession of ornate military uniforms. There are also
some really lovely full court dress uniforms for both women <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron2.jpg">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron2_small.jpg" alt="cameron2.jpg (26068 bytes)" border="2" width="96" height="145"></a> and men
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron20_small.JPG" alt="cameron20.JPG (20333 bytes)" border="2" width="76" height="145"></a>, which are almost entirely covered in metal
embroidery<a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron25.JPG"><img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron25_small.JPG" alt="cameron25.JPG (69819 bytes)" border="2" width="121" height="145"></a>. For those interested in obscure bits of African
American historical trivia, the exhibit also shows the servant's livery of the African
American boxer-turned-body-guard <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron14.JPG">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron14_small.JPG" alt="cameron14.JPG (18199 bytes)" border="2" width="84" height="145"></a> who was a member of Nicholas II's personal staff.
In the "Everyday Life" section is a quantity of
beautiful upper class men's and women's clothing <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron24.JPG">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron24_small.JPG" alt="cameron24.JPG (32567 bytes)" border="2" width="89" height="145"></a>, with some splendid 1780's embroidered court suits <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron29.JPG">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron29_small.JPG" alt="cameron29.JPG (62640 bytes)" border="2" width="145" height="131"></a>, Turn-of-the-Century wedding gowns <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron26.JPG">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron26_small.JPG" alt="cameron26.JPG (33208 bytes)" border="2" width="97" height="145"></a>, and Russian revival costumes <a href="../../history/camerongallery/cameron32.JPG">
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron32_small.JPG" alt="cameron32.JPG (13281 bytes)" border="2" width="64" height="145"></a>. As with all "historical" costume collections in Russia, history
abruptly ends in 1917. The history of costume since 1917 in Russia has not yet been
written or collected for museum display, and is only just beginning (in books like Soviet
Textiles 1918-1939, or Revolutionary Costume) to be unearthed.
Interestingly, except for those costumes worn by the Tsar and
his family, the explanatory captions in the Costume Gallery again focus on the costumes as
the "work of Russian craftsmen" rather than who wore them. Even this
overwhelmingly royalist, aristocratic display, has in it a bow to the old Soviet political
While you are there also take time to tour the interior of the
Palace and the grounds of the Park. The Catherine Palace, is a beautifully restored and
furnished example of 18th Century Russian Baroque style. The Palace, in addition to many
spectacular rooms, houses both a royal portrait gallery and a special exhibit gallery. The
special exhibit gallery periodically shows items of a costume nature, such as Faberge
jewelry, or this year, The "Tsarkoe Selo in the Age of Catherine The Great"
exhibit which includes some dress uniforms belonging to Catherine. The main palace also
has a guest court of high quality souvenir shops with the best amber jewelry selection in
<img src="../../history/camerongallery/cameron3_small.jpg" alt="cameron3.jpg (31827 bytes)" border="2" width="134" height="145"></a>
Click Here to see more color photos of<a href="../../HISTORY/100pages/camerongallery.htm"> The Cameron Gallery </a>collection.
Another important display of ethnic costume is the collection
known variously as the Kunstkamera, or "The Peter The Great Museum of
Anthropology and Ethnography". The Kunstkamera houses one of the larger displays
of ethnic costume in the world, with particularly strong collections in the indigenous
dress of <a href="AKNATIVE.HTM">Alaska</a>.
Alaskan costumes (like Siberian costumes) are especially
interesting for their creative use of unusual materials: fish skin, bird skin, metal and
bone fetishes, intestines, furs, and leathers. Connoisseurs of Indian and Eskimo masks
will find that many of the best examples often
shown in books on the subject were photographed here. The Alaskan collection includes one
of the less than half a dozen folding-cup style suits of "armor" in a collection
(used by costal Eskimos to defend against raids by the technologically advanced and
warlike Tlingit tribes of the South-East). The Tlingit Indians, (who formed the main
opposition to the Russian Invasion) are also well represented with armor, hats, masks,
Three <a href="http://alaskan.com/docs/blanket.html">Chilcat blankets</a> (heraldic
robes), and a rare Raven's Tail blanket.
And this is only the Alaskan section. The Native peoples of the
rest of North America, Oceania, Australia, Asia, and Africa are also represented through
costume. The museum shows a set of full royal regalia (executed in feathers) worn by King
Kameamea I of Hawaii, two rare Pomo (California) Indian feathered dance robes, a set of
East Indian theatrical costumes, a straw Maori heraldic blanket-robe, two sets of Samurai
armor, and a host of Asian costumes of all kinds. There is also a new, modern gallery
section (no extra cost) showing the prizes of the museum's collection of Siberian and
Alaskan ivory carvings, the preeminent one of it's kind worldwide.
Except for this section, display techniques are pretty much 19th
Century style, however, this turns to one's advantage, since these methods are highly
space-conserving, you get to see quite a lot of objects considering the relatively small
size of the museum.
The museum, having been founded by Peter I (and built from
1718-34), also contains two suits worn by Peter I, as well as a bronze copy of his death
mask. The Kunstkamera was the first public museum in Russia, and began with scientifically
educational displays from Peter's own collection. It's purpose was to disseminate
knowledge of the latest tools, machines, exotic stuffed animals, rare books, atlases and
archeological finds on display there. The Academy of Sciences was originally located in
this building as well, and the most eminent 18th Century Academician, Mikhail Lomonsov, is
memorialized in a small museum inside the Kunstkamera under the top of the central dome.
Downstairs, also under the dome, is an interesting, if repulsive, display of pickled
deformed fetuses and animals that were one of the original displays from the early 18th
Century. As two headed baby collections go, it appears to be quite a varied and extensive
one, highly popular with school children, if not quite what you'd usually expect to find
between two galleries of crafts and costumes of Japan and Africa.
There are also two extra upstairs galleries that rotate exhibits
on a variety of archeological and ethnographic subjects. Costs vary depending on the
exhibit. The museum does not as yet maintain a gift shop, (although Chinese jewelry and
objects are sold at a small table on the stairs,) but one appears to be under the last
stages of construction, and should hopefully appear soon.
<a HREF="http://www.kunstkamera.ru/english/" ADD_DATE="1002441251" LAST_VISIT="1002441431" LAST_MODIFIED="1002441242">KUNSTKAMERA</a>
New Web site!
The next spectacular display of costumes is usually at the Hermitage
Museum (The former "Winter Palace"). I say usually, because the Hermitage,
despite having a large costume collection, does not maintain a constant display, but
rather rotates in a new display about once a year. This means if you arrive between
displays there may be no costumes whatever on view. However, for much of the year there is
a display of some kind, and due to the incredibly rich collection of the museum, it is
often of an almost "blockbuster" quality.
Last Summer, for instance they showed the costumes made in 17th
Century style for the famous 1903 Romanov Anniversary Ball as part of an exhibit,
"Nicholas and Alexandra". Most of these costumes had never been on display since
that time. The year before was a large display of ladies couture and court gowns
1890-1910, many of which were worn by the last two Tsarinas.
There is also a constant display of Western European armor
dating from 1400-1700 in the "New Hermitage" section, Rm. 243, 2nd floor. The
Hermitage is also one of the largest museums in the world, on a par with the
Louvre. This means you had best come
early, wear comfortable footgear, and plan on spending a whole day or two on walking it.
Apart from the many beautiful public rooms of the palace (throne rooms, ballrooms, all the
usual), there are dozens of rooms of simple gallery space, including everything from ivory
miniatures to Impressionist canvases. It is only slightly less extensive than the Louvre,
and a great deal more confusing because of being more compact. It is however, an easier
On the down side, the Hermitage itself also charges a relatively
high admission to foreigners, and higher than usual prices for bringing in cameras. Gift
shopping at the Hermitage is still in it's embryonic stages-there are very many small gift
counters and one large shop, but their goods are high priced and have no reference to the
<a HREF="http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/" ADD_DATE="957609595" LAST_VISIT="957610107" LAST_MODIFIED="957609590">The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia -- Powered by IBM</a>
The Theatre Museum and Library:
On a more modest scale are the Museum of Theatrical and
Musical Arts and the Theatre Library, located behind the Alexandinsky Theatre.
While the Museum is small, (only 4 rooms) and slightly old fashioned, it has rotating
exhibits of costumes and renderings on display at all times, and is moreover quite cheap
to enter, only 2000p (60c). Taking photos is only 2000p as well. Guards are happy to
double as guides (in Russian) and are quite helpful.
Display material comes chiefly from the adjacent Theatre
Library: Right now they are hosting an exhibit of the costume renderings of Golovin, best
known in the West for his designs for Diagalev, which has been entirely drawn from the
Library archives. For research purposes it should be noted that the Library has, in
addition to an impressive theatre book collection in all languages, one of the world's
largest costume and set rendering collections in the world. Because the library was the
former office & library of the old Imperial Theatres, this includes nearly all the
designs done for the Imperial Theaters from the 18th through 20th Centuries.
After 1917 other theatre and film designers donated renderings
on a voluntary basis, and so there is no shortage of designs to fill out the post
Revolutionary period either. There is also a substantial collection of pre-18th Century
renderings of European designs for Opera and Ballet, collected by the Imperial Theatre in
the 19th Century. This even includes some as yet unattributed sketches of Inigo Jones.
<a HREF="http://www.museum.com/jb/museum?id=18633" ADD_DATE="1009176436" LAST_VISIT="1009176419" LAST_MODIFIED="1009176419">museum.com - The St.Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music</a>
Museum of Artillery:
There are a few more interesting military uniforms to be seen at
the Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signals, aesthetically located in an old
fort between the Peter and Paul Fortress and Lenin Park. The general museum exhibit
includes small amounts of uniform, armor and medals along with the arms and armaments of
each period. However it is in the special exhibit "Crown and Cloak" that the
most interesting garments are kept. Like at the Costume Gallery at the Catherine Palace,
this exhibit displays a small selection of military uniforms and uniform portraits of
Russian Tsars and their families from Peter I to Nicholas II. Also on display are military
orders worn by the Royal family. The museum is host to two small gift booths, one with
books on military history, the other with military model kits and reproduction medals at
<blink>NEW!!!! </blink>The Theatre of the Architectural Interior of St.
Petersburg (known as the "Intierney" Theatre for short) now has a fabulous
display of masks, renderings, and costumes on public view, including a large hall devoted
to their famous set of costumes representing the buildings, statues and monuments of St.
Petersburg. This display includes an 18th Century style court dress in the form of
the Kunstkamera Museum, Peter the Great on his Bronze horse, Dom Knigi, etc. as as
wearables. To get there go to the North side (Sunny side) of Nevsky Prospekt , near
the Aphrodite Restaurant, opposite the Mayakovskaya Metro (more or less) and look for a
doorway that looks like this.
<img src="../../travel/russia/interiortheatret.jpg" alt="interiortheatret.jpg (10422 bytes)" width="115" height="144"></a>
Entry was $4 for foreigners last Summer. You can't take photos inside, but this
poster outside gives you an idea of the wild costumes they do: <a href="../../travel/russia/interiortheatre2.jpg">
<img src="../../travel/russia/interiortheatre2t.jpg" alt="interiortheatre2t.jpg (9656 bytes)" width="96" height="144"></a>
While you are there ask if they are doing any street performances using the costumes and
then you can see them in action.
If you are still hungry for more, there are just a few more
costume scrapings in the barrel: You can see some more theatrical costumes at the Chaliapin
Memorial Museum, which houses the personal effects (including several opera costumes)
of the great singer. If after the Ethno Museum and Kunstkamera, you still haven't seen
enough circumpolar costume, there is also a small display of it on the top floor of The
Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic, a barely visited antique of a museum. Most amusing
about this museum's display is the c.1930 "modern" Chukchi needlework, featuring
Soviet era stories done with traditional materials and style. If you long to see more
suits worn by Peter the Great, go to Peter the Great's Cabin, a wonderful little
wooden house (the first in St. Petersburg), bizarrely preserved inside a brick building.
Or, even better, see the Summer Palace of Peter the Great, with even more Petrine
outfits, in an un ostentatious little palace in the beautiful Summer Garden near the town
center. For further information go to the appendix at the end of this article.
For pictures of the costume collection at the Hermitage, visit
the book stores on Nevsky Prospekt and look for The Art of Costume in Russia from the
18th to 20th Centuries. This classic book has not gone out of print since its
publication in the 1970's, is available in a variety of languages (and with several
different titles and covers) and shows the highlights of the Hermitage costume collection
in clear, full color photographs. If seeing the Ethnographic Museum has made you want
photos of it's costume displays look for National Costumes of the Peoples of the USSR (also
published as Folk Costumes of the USSR), and Russian Jewelry from the 16th to
20th Centuries also to be found in these shops. The best book shops for tourists are
mainly located on both sides of Nevsky around Gertsina Ul. This includes Maska
("Mask"-Art books, & supplies for makeup & costume, at #13), Mir
("World"-Books in foreign languages at #13 also), Mir's branch Izkustva Magazine
("Art Shop"-books, posters and quality souvenirs, across from the main store),
<img border="2" src="../../tara/portfolio/portfolioscans2/aldmiraltyarch_small.jpg" alt="aldmiraltyarch.jpg (71815 bytes)" width="125" height="158"></a>
Ctaraya Kniga ("Used Book"-Used and antiquarian books, posters and theatre
renderings at #18). The city's main bookstore, <a href="../../tara/portfolio/portfolioscans2/books.jpg">
<img border="2" src="../../tara/portfolio/portfolioscans2/books_small.jpg" alt="books.jpg (53657 bytes)" width="191" height="125"></a>
Dom Knigi ("House of Books"),
located in the Art Nouveau style Singer building on Nevsky opposite Kazan Cathedral at
getting the inexpensive and newly published Rysskee Narodnee Kostum (Russian
National Costume), and modern Russian fashion journals like Style, and Eva
in the technical book department. If your trip to Pushkin has whetted an appetite for
books on military costume, there is also a Dom Voennoy Knigi ("House of Military
Books") on the north side of Nevsky at the corner of Bolshaya Konyushennaya, which
stocks art books, military history books, and general interest works. There are dozens
more, scattered on Nevsky and Liteny Prospekts, Marata Ul., and around town.
- 28, is the largest in the city, but stocked less for tourists than locals. It is best for
If you are looking for Russian ethnic costumes to bring home,
doors West from #51, next to the Titan theatre (#47) is a shop without a posted number or
name, specializing in wearable art and Russian folk jewelry. Handmade Russian lace is
available in most gift shops, including the above two, but the biggest selection at low
prices is at <a href="../../TRAVEL/00pages/GOSTINY.HTM"> Gostiny Dvor</a> ("Guest Yard" the biggest, oldest department store in
town at #35) on the 2nd floor, West side. Russian jewelry is also available most
everywhere, with good prices at the shop-with-no-name and the Mir bookstores. To get
modern Russian military buttons and insignia at low prices go to the Voennyy Univermag
("Military Department Store",) about a block East at #67 Nevsky Pr. For actual
pieces of uniform, unfortunately you must usually buy on the street where it is openly
tolerated, but technically illegal. You can however, legally, and cheaply ($4, much less
than the on-the-street price), buy Russian sailor shirts in Gostiny Dvor.
- 51 "Art Boutique" on the South side of Nevsky has quite a lot for sale. A few
Appendix of Practical Information:
- Russian Ethnographical Museum: Walk from Nevsky Prospekt
Metro station across the street to Mikhail Ul. (the street of the Grand Hotel Europe), go
down one block to Arts Square (Statue of Pushkin), then skirt around the square to the
right, 1/3 of the way, to the big yellow neoclassical building on Inzhenernaya Ul (#4/1).
Unless there is a banner for a special exhibition, usually there is only a small plaque to
identify the building, and the door is nearly always forbiddingly closed, but the Museum
is open Tues.-Sun. 10-6, except for the last Friday of each month. Give the door a very
firm shove to open it! Main museum entry is only 2500p (75c), taking photos only costs
1000p (30c), and permission to video is only 2000p (60c), the Gold Hall and Marble Hall
are 5000p extra each for entry, no photos allowed.
- Costume Gallery at the Catherine Palace in Pushkin: Take
the Metro to Pushkinskaya, then catch the commute train on the right side of the Vitabesky
Station to Pushkin. From there take any one of buses 371, 373, 378, 380, 381, 382, or 473
to the Catherine Park. There is a charge to enter the Park in Summer (usually about $1),
but the park is free once the snow flies and the statues are covered in boxes. From the
main entrance follow the signs past the Main Palace to the Cameron Gallery. Entrance for
foreigners to the Costume Gallery is 3500p ($1.10). You can also take photos or video for
only 800p (25c) or 3200p ($1) respectively. Summer hours are Wed.-Sun. 11-5, Winter hours
are weekends only 11-5. The Catherine Palace is more expensive, 16,500p ($5) for
foreigners, 10,000p ($3) for students, 23,000p ($7) for video, 10,000p ($3) for photos.
Rotating exhibits vary in cost.
- Kunstkamera: To get there take trolley bus 7 or 10 North
from Nevsky Prospekt metro station, get off just after you cross the river, and walk along
the blue-green building (the Museum) 1/2 block till you can turn right to the first side
street. The Kunstkamera entrance is on this side street at #3 Universitetskaya Nab. Hours
are 11-5 Sun.-Wed. This means it's closed Thurs., Fri., and Sat. However, in Summer they
also open on Thursdays. The Museum is also closed on the last day of each month for
cleaning. Please note, since this is a popular museum for family outings, going on Sunday
is not recommended unless you genuinely like screaming small-fry. The museum displays,
such as pickled deformed babies, preserved heads of tatooed Maori tribesmen, and
"topless" mannequins in native dress, get the kids very excited and rowdy.
Weekdays, when the kids are in the charge of guides and teachers, are more placid and less
crowded. Admission is 7000p ($2.30) for foreigners, no student rates or pictures allowed.
- Hermitage: Take the Metro to Nevsky Prospekt/Gostiny Dvor
station. Exit to Nevsky Prospekt, then hike North-West towards the gold Admiralty spire.
Just before you get there you will see a street going off to the right (Ul. Gertsina)
towards a yellow arch, head through it. On the other side will be a big square with an
angel-topped column in the center (Palace Sq.) and a big peacock green building behind it.
The building is The Hermitage. Skirt round to the left to the opposite (river) side for
the entrance. Alternatively, for those not up to walking, take the 10 or 7 trolley bus at
Nevsky and get off at Palace Square. Hours of operation theoretically are posted as
Tuesday through Sunday, 10:30-6, but in fact you'll usually find yourself inexorably being
herded towards the exit by the guards a little after 5. On Sunday the herding happens at
4-4:30, and it is a waste of time to argue the point! Rates are 28,000p ($8.50) for
foreigners, 16,000p ($5) for foreign students. Guided tours cost somewhat more. To bring
in a camera you'll need to pay 25,000p ($7.50) for video and 9,000p ($2.60) for a still
camera. Most gallery parts of the museum are "no photo" spots anyway, bring in
cameras only for the big spectacular palace rooms. If your Russian is very good you also
can sometimes sweet talk the guards into letting you take photos in "forbidden"
spots anyway, providing it's not too crowded. This is actually true of many museums in
Russia, they have a saying: "It's forbidden, but, not if you really want to." In
Summer and weekends the museum tends to crowd up and heat up till the guards get quite
testy. Never attempt the Hermitage on a warm weekend afternoon in Summer, it is quite
- Theatre Museum and Library: the Museum is located at #20
Ostrovsky Sq. up on the 3rd floor. Hours of operation are 11-6 Monday, Thursday, Friday,
Saturday and Sunday, and 1-7 on Wednesday. All Tuesdays, and the last Friday of each month
are closed to the public. The Library is mercifully on the first floor, next door, to the
right, in the old Imperial Theaters' main office. Bring a Russian friend and your passport
if you want to use the Library. To become a regular library patron for more than one visit
you will also need to provide a small photograph for mounting on a library card. To get
there take the Metro to Nevsky Prospekt, head South-East, away from the gold Admiralty
spire, till you see a park on your right. In the park will be a large sculpture of
Catherine II with her courtiers at her feet. Go past this, and past the big yellow and
white theatre. On the left, behind the rear of the theatre is #20.
- Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signals: Go to
Gorkovskaya Metro, exit to your right through Lenin Park, then just as you see the bridge
entrance to the Peter and Paul Fortress (big brick wall with gold church spire) turn right
again along the embankment. The Museum will be on your right in another brick fort. The
Museum is open 11-5 Wed.-Sun except for the last Thursday of each month. Admission is
3000p (95c) for foreigners, 1000p (30c) for students. The exhibit "Crown and
Cloak" is 5000p ($1.50) for foreigners and 3000p (95c) for foreign students.
- Small Museums: the Chaliapin Memorial Museum is at
2b, Graftio Ul., and is open Thursdays 1-9pm, and Wed., Fri.-Sun. from 11am-7pm. Take
Metro to Petrogradskaya, then autobus #46 North on Kamennoostrovsky Pr.to Graftio Ul..The
Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic is at the corner of Marata Ul. and Kuznechnyy Per.,
walk from Vladimirskaya Metro one block East on Kuznechnyy Per. Peter the Great's Cabin
is at #6 Petrovskaya Embankment, open 10-6 Wed.-Mon., with a lunch break closing from
1:30-2:30, and an all day "cleaning" closing on the last day of each month. To
get there go to Gorkovskaya Metro, then hike south through Lenin Park to the embankment
and turn left. The Summer Palace of Peter I is located in the Summer Garden, near
Nevsky Prospekt/Gostiny Dvor Metro, and is open 10-1 every day. Walk the historic and
scenic route from Nevsky at Sadovaya Ul. north past the Russian Ethnographical Museum,
Engineer's Castle, and then through the Garden to the Summer Palace, overlooking the Neva.
These museums are all cheap to enter. The most expensive, The Summer Palace, is only 4000p
($1.20) for foreigners, and 2000p (60c) for foreign students.