What did the Tsaritsyno oak behold? New museum for children at the museum reserve

What did the Tsaritsyno oak behold? New museum for children at the museum reserve
The exhibition will open on 8 December. The permanent display will be designed for both children and adults. Almost all the exhibits will be interactive.  For the time being, two halls will open to visitors with, The Tsaritsyno Time and How Palaces Were Built in the 18th Century.

An interactive children’s museum will open at the Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve on 8 December. The permanent display will be located on the ground floor of the Grand Palace. Two halls will be at first open for the public. The exhibition, The Tsaritsyno Time, will include items related to the history of the area from the Bronze Age up until the present time. How Palaces Were Built in the 18th Century, the other exhibition, will inform visitors about the people who built the Tsaritsyno palaces and pavilions and what these once looked like over 200 years ago.

Next summer, three more exhibition halls will open at the museum. They will be devoted to 18th century court entertainment as well as the landscaped park of the 19th century and the contemporary museum collection. The children’s museum is suitable for young visitors aged from 6 to 14 years. Tickets are available via http://tickets.tsaritsyno.net/en to the Grand Palace or the Bread House.

The central sector of The Tsaritsyno Time exhibition will be a plywood and plexiglas installation in the shape of a giant tree.  Entitled  “What Did the Tsaritsyno Oak Behold?”, the installation will tell young visitors about the seven historical stages in the development of the museum estate. The base of the tree trunk has seven divisions in the form of retractable planks  which mention an important Tsaritsyno development stage: The Bronze Age and the Time of the Vyatichi; The 18th Century: The Village of Chyornaya Gryaz; The Streshnev and Golitsyn Estate; The Time of the Kantemirs; The Time of Catherine II; Tsaritsyno in the 19th Century; The Landscaped Park and Dachas; The Time of the Lenin Village; and Tsaritsyno Today.

The oak is surrounded by seven screens showing one minute-long animated videos dedicated to various periods of time at Tsaritsyno. By pressing a button, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of a certain period. For instance, they will hear such things as howling wind and rustling leaves, musical sounds of once upon a time, the thud of hammers and hooves together with the clatter made by carriages approaching the palace.

By using an interactive magical book, it will be possible to leaf through the history of Tsaritsyno. The exhibit will be found in a niche in a wall covered with a one-way mirror. On the one side, it looks like a mirror and on the other it is a dark glass. To find out what is behind it, one should touch a special point on the wooden panel and images will light up inside.

On display at The Tsaritsyno Time exhibition there will also be archeological findings from the collection of the museum reserve, such as temple rings (worn by females on their temples) of the 11th-13th centuries, clay bowls of the 17th-18th centuries, stove tiles of the 18th century and minted coins that date back to 18th-19th centuries.

At the exhibition How Palaces Were Built in the 18th Century, visitors will learn about the life of Vasily Bazhenov and Matvei Kazakov, the architects who built the palace and the garden complex at Tsaritsyno. People will also find out what kind of relations they had with their client, Empress Catherine the Great. The biography of Vasily Bazhenov is featured as a comic book, while a separate section is dedicated to his apprentice Matvei Kazakov.

Another interactive stand has a panoramic image of the Tsaritsyno palace and gardens as they looked 200 years ago. It is a copy of an old engraving. Visitors will be able to compare the current look of the pavilions with the original ones.

Several small spyglasses will also be part of an interactive exhibition. Looking into them, museum-goers will see miniature images of the Grand Palace at the Moscow Kremlin, a famous project drafted by Bazhenov, which was not realised.

Adults and children will also get a chance to “finish the construction” of the Opera House using a magnetic wall puzzle game. All that will be required is to add the parts of architectural elements that are missing. On another stand, people will be able to try their hand at drawing architectural details typical of the Russian Gothics, the style used for the palace. On the top of the stand there is a circular structure with handles that resembles the steering wheel of a ship covered with various decorative images. Near the bottom part of the stand there is a lighting panel featuring the same decorative elements. Here children will be allowed to trace pictures by putting a sheet of paper on the illuminated part of the stand.

The area where the Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve is located dates back over 4,000 years. Archeologists found pieces of ceramic pots that belonged to a settlement of the early 1st century AD. Between the 11th-13th centuries this place was inhabited by the Vyatichi tribe. In the 17th-18th centuries, the local village was called Chyornaya Gryaz (Black Mud). During different times, it was owned by the Boyars Streshnev, the Princes Golitsyn as well as the Princes Kantemir. In 1775, the estate was purchased by Empress Catherine II to build her royal country residence there. Then Chyornaya Gryaz was renamed Tsaritsyno (in Russian, it means “belonging to a tsarina”). The architects tasked with drawing up the plans for the construction of the palace and garden complex in the Russian Gothic style were Vasily Bazhenov and Matvei Kazakov.

After the demise of the empress in 1796, the palace was not frequented on a regular basis. Therefore, Catherine’s grandson, Emperor Alexander I, decided to open up the park to the public. In the early 19th century, the park was landscaped at Tsaritsyno. At that time, the stone pavilions Milovida, Nerastankino and the Temple of Ceres were built and the alleys, paths and small bridges made. The Tsaritsyno Ponds saw new dams, artificial islands that were created during Catherine’s reign, plus new ones, as well as new quays and bathing places. Since then, the park has been very popular among people in Moscow.

In 1860, the royal family handed Tsaritsyno over to the Moscow Department of Royal Property and part of the land was rented out for dachas, which stood there until the 1917 revolution. Tsaritsyno received its status as a museum reserve in 1984.

The exhibition is permanent and open from 11 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Friday and from 11 am to 8 pm on Saturdays and from 11 am to 7 pm on Sundays.