Scientific-Research museum of the Russian Academy of Arts keeps one of the world’s most significant architecture collections. About fifty thousand stored items are materials of the Russian and West European architecture from the ancient world till the 20th century which comprise unique design drawings, measuring, watercolors, paintings and patterns.
Rich and diverse architecture collections in the museum formed majorly due to its existence within the structure of the Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg established in 1757 as a center of painting and architecture activities, as well as a high school.
Building up academic collections was supported by the needs of the educational process, there were acquired original works for replicating, graphic materials for visual studying for different faculties, but soon the collection started being replenished by the results of many-year hard work of the students and their best study works. So, the Museum of the Academy of Arts has become an owner of a unique collection of educational paintings and drawings of the Russian architects of the 18th-20th centuries, many of which had subsequently become prominent masters. Monthly and trimester training exercises, graduation programs and projects purposed for gaining academic degrees represent a unique reflection of development of the Russian architecture for more than two centuries and this collection of study works of the Academy of Arts’ Faculty of Architecture is still being replenished. Professors and graduates of the Academy of Arts’ Faculty of Architecture hand over to the museum also skillful works, designs of the projected by them buildings, like it was in the 18th-20th centuries.
The museum partially owes it initial connection with the school of the Academy of Arts to the unique collection of architecture patters. Constructors of the Northern Russian capital, following the European tradition, used wooden design patterns for erection of especially important structures which served as a supplementary to the prepared by the architect drawings. After the construction completion such patterns were usually stored in the building for erecting of which they were made. Only in Saint Petersburg they were handed over for storage to the Academy of Arts as graphic examples for the scholars of the Faculty of Architecture. To regret, some patterns had been already lost in the 19th century (for instance, the pattern of the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange of the design of Quarenghi). In view of this the preserved up to now design patterns of Smolny Monastery of Rastrelli, Troitsky Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Laura (initially - the design of Theodor Schwertfeger and the presently existing design of Ivan Starov), Mikhailovsky castle, Saint Petersburg residence of the Emperor Paul I, pattern of Isaac Cathedral of Antonio Rinaldi and the masterpiece of Auguste Montferrand which replaced it, the Stock Exchange built in Strelka of Vasilievsky island by the design of Tom de Tomon, as well as the buildings of the Academy of Arts on the coast of the Neva are of extreme value. All the patterns are made of wood and consist of several parts which let us see their internal structure and interior decoration which is depicted as painting, carving and casting. As a rule, the authors of the projects also took part in construction of such patterns (Rastrelli, for instance, was told to come to the studio to color the pattern of Smolny cathedral by himself).
Except of the design models the Academy of Arts’ Museum also keeps one of the fullest collections of cork patterns of antique architecture monuments. These magnificent works of the applied arts and architecture came from the Roman studio of Antonio Chichi in the end of the 18th century. They were purposed for decoration of rich and honorable Europeans which could appreciate the beauty of the ancient ruins. One of these collections was acquired by the Empress Katherine the Great for her grandson, future Emperor Alexander I. When the successor of the throne grew up these patterns were handed over to the Academy of Arts, this place was as appropriate for such patterns as no other place, as the study of architecture here always started with getting acquainted with the laws of the ancient architecture.
This rich collection reflects the creative work of one of the first Russian architects of the Classicism Nikolai Lvov. It consists of the drawings to some of his famous buildings (for instance, Nevskiye gate of the Peter and Paul Fortress), comprised in the album design of the park of the estate Bezborodko, as well as pictures to the third (not issued) book of the prepared by Lvov Russian edition of the treatise of Andrea Palladio “Four books about architecture”.
Many famous works of Andrei Voronikhin are presented in the collection of the Museum by original papers: Mountain Cadet Corps, the House of Apanage, design of restructuring the dacha of Stroganov and internal decoration of Stroganovsky Palace. This collection is also enriched by his sketches of the items of the applied art.
Among few exhibited items related to the creative work of another great Russian Classicism architect, Andriyan Zakharov the most valuable are preliminary designs of the façade of the Admiralty in Saint Petersburg.
Two more albums of designs of Luigi Ruska comprehensively represent the activity of another significant Petersburg master of the first half of the 19th century.
The museum keeps one of the biggest collections of the great Carlo Rossi which represents all his major works, such as ensembles of Mikhailovsky and Yelagin Castles, Aleksandrinsky Theater, Palace Square and others. The true pearl of this collection are exquisite in idea and the performance technique sketches of interiors, furniture, items of the applied art.
A rich collection of the works of Auguste Montferrand comprises materials related to the Isaac Cathedral, Alexandriyskaya Column, the houses of Lobanov-Rosrovsky, Kochubei, Demidov and other structures of St. Petersburg. The examples of the brilliant graphic skill of Montferrand are his designs of interiors of the Winter Palace. The Academy of Arts’ Museum keeps also watercolor sketches to famous lithographic editions of Montferrand about the history of construction the Isaac Cathedral and Alexandriyskaya Column.
Exclusively comprehensive is the collection of the works of Alexander Bryullov, a prominent architect and teacher of the period of transition from the Classicism to Eclecticism. It represents all stages of his creative work, academic programs fulfilled during the period of study, as well as his major works, such as Pulkovo Astronomy Observatory, Headquarters of the Guards Corps of the Palace Square, Lutheran church of St. Peter in the Nevsky Prospect.
Among the vast Museum’s materials which are attributed to the architecture of the second half of the 19th century there should be distinguished the collections of drawings of great masters of that period: Andrei Stackenschneider and Konstantin Ton. Another distinguishable collection is that of one of the first masters of the “Russian Style” David Grimm which let us track almost all the creative path of this interesting architect.
Development of the Russian architecture of the 20th century is reflected in the architecture fond of the Russian Academy of Arts’ Museum by collections and separate works of some prominent masters, such as Ivan Fomin, Vladimir Shchuko, Alexander Shchusev, Noi Troitsky, Leonid Rudnev, Nikolai Lansere and others.
Of big interest is an exclusive due to its artistic value and completeness collection of the beneficiaries’ (Russian architects and Academy’s graduates’) works. According to the Charter of the Academy the students which were awarded golden medals for their graduate work were sent at expense of the Academy abroad to improve their professional skills. Architects (as a report of such a training) brought restoration projects of outstanding architecture monuments of the past, traveler’s sketches made in European cities rich in artistic sightseeings, measurements of ancient classical architecture works. Several thousands of sheets which form this composition comprise works of almost all subsequently famous masters of the second half of the 19th century – beginning of the 20th century: Alexey Gornostayev, Roman Kuzmin, Fyodor Richter, Nikolai Benois, Viktor Gartman, Georgy Kosyakov, Ivan Ropet, Mikhail Preobrazhensky and many others. Numerous paintings of famous architecture masterpieces of the past in color represent traditional for Academy of Arts high level of graphic skill in the architecture education.
Collections of graphical works of French and Italian architects are the most significant in the part of collection representing foreign works. Among these works are depicted with watercolor views of Rome of Charles Louis Clerisseau, designs of Kraft, Boregar, Depres, Blondelle, Vallin de la Mothe. the past in color represent traditional for Academy of Arts high level of graphic skill in the architecture education. Collections of graphical works of French and Italian architects are the most significant in the part of collection representing foreign works. Among these works are depicted with watercolor views of Rome of Charles Louis Clerisseau, designs of Kraft, Boregar, Depres, Blondelle, Vallin de la Mothe.
In 1935 the Museum of the RAA accepted a part of collection of a Parisian antiquarian Alfred Berdele acquired in the end of the 19th century for St. Petersburg Central Technical Drawing College of Baron Stiglitz. The works of French architects and decorative designers represent the designs of small architecture forms, sketches and drafts of furniture items, interior decoration elements, etc., i.e. everything which, on the one hand, forms and, on the other hand, reflects esthetic requirements of contemporaries to the objective environment. Of several hundreds of paintings in this collection there should be underlined the names of such prominent French masters, as Charles Percier, Jean-Arduen Ducerceau, Nicolas Pino, Jean-Charles de la Fosse, Gilles-Marie Oppenord.
Italian school in the architecture collection of the Museum of RAA is presented by magnificent sketches of Antonio Perisinotti, Giuseppe Valeriani, Carlo Bibienna, Pietro Gonsaghi. The last one is the author of such interesting architecture projects executed in Russia, as theater for St. Petersburg, Isaac Cathedral and Mausoleum to Paul I. This collection department also comprises works of architects from other European countries, such as measurement drawings of Venice palazzo of Johann Kreiz, design of the castle in Potsdam of Manger and Krueger, designs of unknown masters for Switzerland, Spain, Sweden and Denmark. The architecture of the Great Britain is presented in the collection of the RAA’s Museum by five drawings of Charles Barri which are part of his design of the new Westminster Palace (Parliament) which were gifted by the author to the Emperor Nikolai I, as well as watercolors of Barri’s assistant, Thomas Allom (perspective representations of the Westminster Palace).
The architecture collection of the RAA’s Museum is valuable not only due to its high artistic level, but also because it’s significant for researchers, restorers and a wide circle of fans of arts. Kept in the Museum original and measurement drawings are constantly used for restoration and recovery of the architecture monuments. This department’s materials were, for example, used for restoration of a demolished in 1931 Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a prominent monument to the heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812, as well as in restoration in 2000 of a damaged during the WWII Cathedral of Saint Vladimir in Kherson (nearby Sevastopol, built in the 19th century as a memory to baptizing the Knyaz Vladimir Svyatoslavovich due to whom Christianity was established in Russia ). Currently the rich collection of drawings of a prominent author of Isaac Cathedral in Petersburg Auguste Montferrand is used for reconstruction of the park Yekaterinhof which is supposed to include construction of exquisite park pavilions in Mauritanian and Gothic styles using his designs. Numerous similar examples of the practical value of RAA Museum’s architecture funds can be given. Its significance lets the Museum take an active part in national and international exhibition projects.