View from the Hermitage. Two heads of the Eagle
Recently, the press has been flooded with publications on occasion of the governmental decree differentiating monuments of our city between municipal and federal ones.
Speaking frankly, the resonance this news has produced, causes quite a surprise. I do not like a conversation about the property with reference to monuments at all. It seems to be not too founded and causes emotions which should not be there. Concepts, like "mine" and "yours" are hardly appropriate here.
Actually there is a process of putting the system of management of monuments in order. In Petersburg there are federal institutions which "live" in the municipal property - buildings belonging to the city, and, on the contrary, municipal organizations which inhabit in federal objects.
It is necessary to understand, that a monument of culture cannot belong completely to the state or a private person, but it belongs to people. The state does not have the right to act by the principle: I do with it what I want. It should preserve and maintain monuments and if it has to transfer them to someone then, it should be done with a great number of restrictions and encumbrances. These restrictions are obligatory, whether it would be federal jurisdiction or municipal. Each proprietor incurs a huge set of obligations instead of great privileges. It should be realized to avoid any temptation to privatize the monuments since they were transferred to the city. Monuments are entitled with rights, which even proprietors and tenants are obliged to respect.
It is necessary to remember that it is very expensive to live in a monument. Those, who chose this way donít have too many options: either they live badly because nothing can be touched and reconstructed in the building, or they invest a lot of money in the restoration. Big money is required for maintenance.
The city has "grabbed" nothing for the property from more than one and a half hundred of transferred objects. There occurred a normal legal, and if you will, bureaucratic procedure. The property has been divided to get rid of the complexities of management and problems with providing financial flows for restoration.
It sounds funny, when in the first line some authors write: the Hermitage and the Winter Palace have remained federal. They just canít be anything other since they represent one of the main treasures of the country. But, for example, St. Petersburg City History Museum is situated in a monument of federal significance - the Peter and Paul Fortress. There were two variants: to make the museum federal or to transfer the fortress to the city. They have chosen the second variant. Decisions can be different proceeding from problems and advantage for the monument. So, the Summer Garden, as it is known, remained municipal for a long time, until it was not founded included in the structure of the Russian Museum and became federal.
The word "federal" means central, having the state significance. If a number of Petersburgís monuments is under federal control, management, financing, it is a reason for pride. But federal financing cannot cover everything. In some situations the city can take expenses upon itself. If we shy away from financing historical monuments we can easily lose our sense of being a capital, the one that we love to proclaim.
It is possible to declare our city a cultural capital, but that is not
enough. Availability of real functions presented by important institutions
is the confirmation of the capitalness. Therefore it is good that the Constitutional
Court has moved from Moscow to our city. I do not hesitate
to repeat, that the confirmation of capitalness is in the fact the main
museum of Russia - the Hermitage is situated in Petersburg. And presence
of the Russian Museum here - a museum of the world level, one of the largest
in the country, is the confirmation of the same. The Mariinsky Theatre,
one of the most
The special status of the city shows itself in a unique "product" sought by Moscow, the one which is being created here. Petersburg produces actors, artists and politicians who leave for the capital. They are necessary for managing the country, therefore Petersburg carries out the functions of a capital.
It is possible to speak about Leningrad of the Soviet time in different ways. I do not like the wording "city of regional destiny". There was no regional destiny. Our city has capital destiny because history was keeping here. It has not necessity to try to keep away or stand apart. There are two types of estrangement: provincialism bordering on insult, or a sort of opposition. Someone thinks that Petersburg have been knowingly separated or have been overshadowed. Someone considers that Petersburg consciously emphasizes its diversity.
In my opinion it is wrong to opposite Petersburg to Moscow. This contraposition is often named historical. Actually it is not so. Petersburg is one person of Russia, Moscow is another one. Historically they have been perceived as two heads of the Eagle Empire. Moscow without Petersburg and Petersburg without Moscow cannot exist for last three hundred years. In the world they are perceived together. When we made a great exhibition about Peter I to the 300 Anniversary of Petersburg, I have written an introductory clause "Petersburg is the son of Moscow" to the catalogue. Everything that Peter did on the banks of the Neva had its beginning in Moscow. He did not declare Petersburg the capital, he has simply moved and lived here. The decree about moving of the capital was not published, there was a symbiosis of two cities. It is not mere chance that tsars went to Moscow to be crowned. They, as well as the nobility, the merchant class never opposed two main cities of Russia. Emotional opposition has arisen during another time and at another level, more primitive.
Actually two capitals are perfectly combined and support each other.
Once I spoke, that move of the capital to Moscow can be perceived as rescue
of the historical center of Petersburg. Moscow saved Petersburg by letting
its own core to be ravished. It has taken upon itself also a burden of the
It is necessary, especially for cultural workers to think about relationships
between two capitals positively. We have the same enemies: pressure for money
and bureaucratic procedures. Break of live communication between
Moscow and Petersburg can be considered as one of the largest cultural
losses after years of perestroika (reconstruction). Earlier it was one
world connected by a night trip by train. Once in Soviet time in Paris
I saw Vladimir Maximov, a dissident, a person who served time in jail,
then struggled with the system. He did not have occasion to visit Leningrad.
Before leaving from Russia forever he had considered necessary to go and visit
the Hermitage which had delighted even him, a
This is not a time for seeking differences but finding common ground, including attitude to monuments. We often repeat: Muscovites have destroyed their monuments, and we have kept ours. Metropolitans object to this: now in Petersburg it is not better than in Moscow. Hotel "Russia" is destroyed in the capital, instead of it there has appeared a waste ground. We have a waste ground where there was the First Pyatiletka House of Culture. Similar problems are both there and here. Perhaps, the solutions to the problems could be similar.
We protect the Palace Square from noise and crash of
I spoke time and again that we need new Petersburg, as the only rescue for the historical center. In Moscow there are good examples of this. There are a lot of centers of gravity which names cause in memory architecture and a set of functions: the Lenin prospect, the Academy of Sciences, the university... It is possible to go in institutions situated there without coming in the historical center. So, like in America it is no need to live in New York to do business. It is possible to live in Washington, Los Angeles, Boston... In Petersburg everything is concentrated in the historical center.
Probably, the time has come to overestimate the cumulative experience.
For example to remember construction of Kamennoostrovsky prospect owing
to which there appeared Petersburg of modernist style, a
Why not to unite efforts of two capitals, I shall not say in the matter of the preservation of monuments, but in protection of common cultural space?
Certainly, differentiating of the property between municipal and federal ones it is impossible to forget about hierarchy. The theme of prestige emerges in this connection inevitably. In the Soviet Union there existed the Ministries of Culture of the USSR and RSFSR. The Hermitage had been submitted to the Ministry of Culture of the USSR, and the Russian Museum had been submitted to the Ministry of RSFSR and suffered because of that in every respect, including moral. It is necessary to handle with hierarchies very accurately, understanding, that the prestige is connected with them.
It is necessary to look at monuments which are transferred to the city from the same point of view. Their prestige should not suffer. Monuments win first place in such city as Petersburg. Possession of them is the highest responsibility. With this responsibility there can be no lowering of the bar whatsoever. It is necessary to search for a combination of use of private and budgetary money, efforts for preservation of monuments and the control. Our goal is to provide that all the objects of the cultural heritage which has appeared in the hands of the city remained imperial in every respect.
This is one more opportunity to show that Petersburg is the true capital.