100 square-metre smalt panel to be restored in the MSU assembly hall

100 square-metre smalt panel to be restored in the MSU assembly hall
The historical assembly hall, designed in Stalin’s Empire style, is on the second floor of the university’s main building.

Specialists continue the renovation of the historical buildings and premises of the Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) on the Sparrow Hills.  Conservation work is under way in the assembly hall on the second floor of the university’s central building, the tallest of Stalin’s era seven high-rises built in Moscow between 1947 and 1957. Today, all of them are cultural heritage sites of regional importance.

The assembly hall was designed in Stalin’s Empire style, like the university’s other rooms.  The creation of a team of architects that included Lev Roudnev, Sergei Chernyshev, Pavel Abrosimov and others (who worked on the MSU project), the assembly hall has 1,500 seats. Prior to the renovation, it hosted various ceremonial events.

Its interiors are marked by the luxury and grandeur that is typical of the Empire style. The suspended ceiling with its carved coves and rosettes as well as the fretted coffered ceilings are 12 metres high. Hanging from the suspended ceiling are eight brass multiple-light chandeliers with milk-glass globes. On all four sides, the hall has white marezzo columns forming a roundabout gallery that rises towards the parterre. The walls are also decorated with stucco moulding, marezzo, and golden-coloured damask. The main portals have carved wooden doors.

Some historical furniture is extant as well, including wooden armchairs in the auditorium and banquettes for unexpected guests. But the main decoration is, as before, a huge wall mosaic created by muralist Pavel Korin. Measuring over 100 square metres, it is located above the presidium and portrays USSR banners of victory and symbols representing the sciences and discovery – a globe, paper scrolls, and a burning torch.   

“Right now, we are renovating the marble and plaster décor on the walls and the ceiling in the MSU assembly hall. The specialists will soon start restoring the mosaic panel and its lost segments.  They will also have to replace the lost damask elements on the walls and renovate window frames, doors, banisters, and furniture. The historical wooden parquetry, ventilation grilles, screens and radiator boxes will be put in order as well. We are planning to finish the job before the end of this year,” head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage (Mosgornaslediye) Alexei Yemelyanov said.

He also noted that the renovation project had been coordinated with Mosgornaslediye and the department’s specialists were monitoring its implementation.

Work has already been completed on yet another university facility, a track and field athletics arena.  Designed by architect Alexander Khryakov and engineer Nikolai Nikitin and erected between 1952 and 1957, this building is a cultural heritage site of regional importance. Like the nearby stadium, the arena was opened for the 6th World Festival of Youth and Students that Moscow hosted in July 1957.   

Designed in Stalin’s Empire style, the Lomonosov Moscow State University complex was built between 1949 and 1953. The 32-storey central building with a spire is 240 metres high. Before 1990, it was the highest structure in Europe. 

Moscow’s preservation of its architectural monuments

The Department of Cultural Heritage prioritises preservation and restoration of architectural monuments in Moscow. Many of these get a new lease of life as they are adapted to modern uses. At the same time, they are a living reminder of how Moscow looked during different periods in its history. Since 2011, the city has renovated more than 1,400 cultural heritage sites, 203 of them in 2019 alone.

For example, it has approved a design to be used in renovating the legendary House of Journalists in Nikitsky Boulevard, where Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sergei Yesenin, Demyan Bedny and Alexander Blok recited their poems in the early 20th century. It was from this building that Moscow journalists left for the front in 1941.  

The Rodina cinema theatre in eastern Moscow, a unique monument of post-constructivism, is also under renovation.  Renovation will soon start in the mansion of the Markov merchants in Karetny Ryad Street. It is the house where the famous stage director Konstantin Stanislavsky lived between 1903 and 1920.