Mariinsky Museum

Over the past two centuries, the Mariinsky Theatre has grown into one of the world’s top opera and ballet companies. Throughout this time, the theatre has amassed a unique collection of works of art and historical documents linked to its long and illustrious history. Fyodor Chaliapin, Anna Pavlova, Marius Petipa, Mikhail Fokine, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova are just some of the names who have performed on this famous stage.

Before the revolution, the functions of museum were fulfilled by the Mariinsky Library. Several attempts were made to found memorial museums. On 27 November 1892, Vladimir Stasov and Lyudmila Shestakova, sister of Mikhail Glinka, opened a Glinka Museum to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842). The museum exhibited set and costume designs, portraits, busts, personal effects and the handwritten notes of the famous Russian composer. But the Glinka Museum soon closed and the objects were returned to their former owners. Neither did the Eduard Nápravník Museum last long; most of its exhibits perished during the Siege of Leningrad (1941–44). The Mariinsky’s collection of pre-revolutionary works and documents was later transferred by the state to the Museum of Theatrical and Musical Art.

The museum of the Mariinsky Theatre owns a collection of priceless artworks and historical artefacts. The depositories contain more than seven thousand set and costume designs by such outstanding artists as Konstantin Korovin, Alexander Golovin, Alexander Benois, Léon Bakst, Valentina Khodasevich, Boris Dmitriyev, Andrei Goncharov, Tatyana Bruni, Ivan Bilibin, Pyotr Williams, Simon Virsaladze, Sofia Yunovich, Fyodor Fedorovsky, Alexandra Schekatikhina-Pototskaya and Leonid Chupyatov. The theatre also possesses an outstanding collection of posters and programmes, a hundred thousand negatives, and over two thousand photographs and postcards, many of them autographed. Other valuable items include the drawings of Fyodor Chaliapin, original stage costumes and the personal effects of famous artists.

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