View from the Hermitage. To Preserve Life Style
We are celebrating another birthday of St Petersburg. It is not just
What was happening this time in Moscow and St Petersburg showed how many people are ready to come to museum at an inopportune time. In some measure a new segment of city night life appeared. Of course, it was generally those people who are used to having fun in the evening that came. It was young people who go to night clubs, ride motorcycles, those people who go to casinos… In order to arouse mass interest it is not really necessary to throw the gates of the biggest museums open. The Hermitage, for example, opened the Menshikov Palace where there are a lot of interesting items, but it was attended less since its novelty was lost. It was exactly young people whom we would have liked to attract to come to the exhibition of Boris Smelov that was working in the General Staff building.
Just like good shows can make television interesting so can museum participation enrich city night life. Museums offer new forms of entertainment to city dwellers.
If the Peter and Paul Fortress forces out smelt fish festival from its
territory it does not mean that holidays will cease to exist. There will
be many events connected with the history of the city and the fortress
itself. Museums are ready to offer the city anything from participation
in night life to official celebrations. For example, there is an old idea
Museum employees are considerate people; we thoroughly think over recipes before we offer them. Museums thought of city attack with the help of paintings. Reproductions from the Hermitage appeared on facades of buildings under restoration and advertisement boards of forty cities. The Tretyakov Gallery did the same in Moscow. On the one hand it is beautiful, on the other hand it reminds of classic views of St Petersburg. I think it’s better than advertisement of a car. We can talk about obtrusiveness of advertising as much as we wish. But something should be opposed to it. Advertising among other things catches the eye. Let something more interesting catch the eye. Underground carriage with paintings from the Russian Museum was sent in Moscow.
Everything that museums do is in full view of the public. The Hermitage moved its ‘hanging garden’ to Staraya Derevnya next to the Storage Facility, delicately treated the trees in the Great Courtyard of the Winter Palace. The Russian Museum is starting restoration of the Summer Garden. Everybody is going to watch this incredibly difficult work. As a result on the basis of unique material a recipe will be born of how to treat similar monuments.
We give a lot to the city and we are trying to influence its life. Holidays at Palace Square are coordinated with the Hermitage more often than before. I think that this year we will coordinate celebration of Alyje Parusa (Scarlet Sails) holiday in a way that it will be more organized. It is possible to find compromises. What can be constructed at Palace Square? We think that nothing can be. But if there is a great need for the city then it should be a structure that can be built and disassembled quickly. Stands for May celebrations were set up and taken away in one day.
When mass events take place at the square the Hermitage demands the organizers
to sign an agreement on the insurance of the third parties which is a common
practice in other countries. We did not manage to prevent
The museum is trying to introduce sound restrictions for the main square of the city, makes measurements of building vibration. Such calculation can become the basis for ecological system which is important not only for the Winter Palace. I’ll repeat that museums show initiative to introduce precise rules. Palace Square Regulations can serve as an example of putting the historic centre in order. Everybody knows that the order is maintained and particularly with the help of scandals.
And here there is an important thing that is desirable for introduction into the life of St Petersburg and that is discussions without spite. There are a lot of acute problems and clashes of interests in the social reality around us. As a rule we sort out relations in a form of protests. It is worth while trying to discuss without spite.
I would give an example. Nobody has given a thought to what colour the facades of the buildings at Palace Square should be painted in. In terms of internal needs of the museum we launched this discussion into the masses: let’s discuss what is the best way to do this. Such discussion does not demand to voice protest, loud statements that the governor is bad, the director of the museum serves no purpose and the president kept out of it. It allows remembering about the history of the city. It was a revelation for me some time ago to find out that after the war the Winter Palace was painted into the colour that has nothing in common with the historical one. In course of time it will gradually get more and more tender pastel tint of green. It should be reminded that pastel shades are the true colour of St Petersburg. City dwellers did not get accustomed at once to the light facades of the Stroganov Palace. Pastel shades are correct however it is harder to preserve them.
When discussing the appearance of the city we remember its history. There were a lot of architectural mistakes in that history. The houses that were built in the square of the Admiralty spoilt its view. Sculptures of Peter the Great at the Admiralty Embankment were thrown away by the artists after the revolution since they thought that they did not belong there. That history can be remembered without spite. Calm discussions, on the one hand, relieve tension in the society, and on the other hand do not exacerbate situation. The more acute situation is the more problems we get. Why did grand conflict arise around ‘Gazprom’ tower? It’s a case of diamond cuts diamond, people acted on principle. A different matter is that the principle of skyscraper’s opponents is right but it would be better to plunge into constructive discussion. If that was the case the conflict would have straightened itself out and a complex of remarkable but not exorbitantly high buildings would have appeared in the beautiful Okhta district.
Museum counterpart helps St Petersburg to maintain proper breathing and to give the country recipes on how to live. It is important for all historical cities. We are talking about what is acceptable and what is not. Great work on protective zoning and height regulations is happening in St Petersburg. In my opinion museums are not participating in it enough. While they know precisely how many metres protective zone should be and from which point it should be measured. They also know where the restrictions stop being reasonable.
The issue is not only in the protective zone of Palace Square, the Alexander Column and not even of the whole historical centre of the city. We would really like if we went beyond the limits of St Petersburg and paid attention to protective zones of the reserves. Fierce debate on how to preserve landscapes and particularly borders of the Pushkinskie Gory reserve is taking place now. Why is protection of Pushkinskie Gory so important? Because other reserves are next in turn. The managers there are very businesslike and able but neither of them manages to determine exact borders. There are a lot of people who do not want these borders to exist.
Petersburg constantly generates fresh forces of artists, poets, ballet
dances, and political leaders for the capital. But most important of all
it generates life style. St Petersburg life style is to preserve and develop
cultural heritage. This
Residents of Moscow often say - now everything you have is like what we have. No, this is not so, everything we have differs from what others have. This is the great strength of the city that is able to preserve and protect its heritage itself. And it is our duty to help it.