Gazprom and Peterhof State Museum Reserve sign Agreement of Cooperation
The opening ceremony for two restored rooms of the Chinese Palace – the Plaster Chamber and the Small Chinese Study – took place today in Oranienbaum. Taking part in the ceremonial event were Olga Lyubimova, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, and Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee.
Olga Lyubimova and Alexey Miller took a look at the results of the conservation efforts for the interiors of the Chinese Palace, which were commenced in 2009 with support from Gazprom. At the moment, 12 of the Palace’s 17 staterooms are open to visitors.
During the tour, the guests greeted the participants of the master class organized at the Big Chinese Study, which is undergoing restoration at the Palace, as part of the Friends of St. Petersburg project.
After the event, Alexey Miller and Elena Kalnitskaya, Director General of the Peterhof State Museum Reserve, signed an Agreement of Cooperation for preserving cultural heritage and developing the Peterhof State Museum Reserve. The document provides both for implementing the existing joint initiatives and enhancing cooperation. Specifically, further support will be extended for the conservation efforts at the Chinese Palace, and an exhibition project will be carried out in 2022 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great. The project was conceived as a contemporary version of the 1872 exhibition, which had been arranged at the initiative of Emperor Alexander II to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great.
Alexey Miller and Elena Kalnitskaya at signing ceremony (in presence of Olga Lyubimova)
“These rooms were closed to the public for more than a decade. Today’s ceremony is a long-awaited event, as the amount of work done by the conservation experts is truly extraordinary. Peterhof is one of the largest museums to conduct repair and restoration efforts on this scale, from renovating hydraulic structures to refurbishing the architectural and landscape complex. In achieving our goals, we are greatly helped by socially responsible businesses,” said the Russian Culture Minister after thanking the museum personnel and managers for preserving the rich cultural heritage of our country.
“The restoration of the Chinese Palace, which was made possible by financial support from Gazprom, our excellent friend and partner, is among the chief priorities of the Peterhof State Museum Reserve. We hope that, once all the works are finished, this resplendent monument, this jewel in the crown of the Oranienbaum architectural ensemble, will become one of the most captivating cultural landmarks for the residents and guests of St. Petersburg,” noted Elena Kalnitskaya, Director General of the Peterhof State Museum Reserve.
“Gazprom is proud to take part in such a major conservation project. We attach a lot of importance to preserving the great masterpieces of the Russian Empire-era St. Petersburg for present and future generations, because one cannot evolve and move forward without historical memory and cultural awareness. Such is the purpose of our art patronage activities in St. Petersburg: to create and build through preservation and restoration,” said Alexey Miller.
The Oranienbaum park and palace ensemble, the one park and palace residence to have come out unscathed from the Great Patriotic War, is Russia’s only architectural ensemble in the rococo style. In the postwar period, the Chinese Palace was left unrestored and gradually fell into disrepair because conservation specialists focused their efforts on restoring major Peterhof assets that had been destroyed during the war.
In 2007–2009, the Peterhof Museum carried out research and conservation works and restored the facade of the Chinese Palace in Oranienbaum with support from Gazprom and international patrons (Wintershall Holding GmbH, BASF).
In 2009, Gazprom became a permanent partner of the Peterhof State Museum Reserve in the restoration of the Chinese Palace in Oranienbaum.
The two restored rooms of the Chinese Palace that are now open to the public are located in the eastern part of the main suite, the so-called “personal apartment of Catherine II.” Most of the interior design of the 18th century has been preserved in the Plaster Chamber (Lilac Drawing Room). Alberto Gianni, a follower of Antonio Rinaldi, created a magnificent ornament in the room, using highly complicated techniques of pasted stucco trimming. The unique appearance of the Small Chinese Study is due to the combination of silk, on which oriental floral motifs and scenes from Chinese life are painted, and contrasting geometric patterns. A rare artistic set of the 18th century can be seen in the parquet floor made of valuable woods.
Now that the Plaster Chamber and the Small Chinese Study have been opened, 12 out of the 17 interiors of the Chinese Palace are available to visitors. The completion deadline for the full range of conservation works in the Chinese Palace is 2024.
The Friends of St. Petersburg comprehensive project, which is pursued by Gazprom with the support of the Committee for State Control, Use and Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments under the St. Petersburg Administration, was launched in 2020.
The project aims to retain the best traditions of the St. Petersburg school of conservation, enabling international exchange of experience and helping address urgent issues related to the preservation and promotion of the cultural and historical heritage of St. Petersburg.
The project engages well-known conservation specialists, architects, public activists, popular urbanists, and experts in local lore, fine arts and history.
These efforts are performed within the framework of large-scale conservation projects pursued by Gazprom in St. Petersburg.
During the event held at the Peterhof State Museum Reserve under the Friends of St. Petersburg comprehensive social project of Gazprom, the participants had a chance to see not only the interiors of the Chinese Palace, but also the restoration process per se. Mikhail Botakovsky, Director General of Petrorestkom, Honorary Restorer of St. Petersburg, held a master class entitled “Restoration specifics of the Chinese Palace as illustrated by the Big Chinese Study” for Friends of St. Petersburg.