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“Tzar’s larks” in Peterhof - Peter’s carriage, a theater and Emperor’s bicycles


“Tzar’s larks”. This is how a new museum space in Peterhof was called


The new project combines two tasks. Entertainment on the one hand, absolutely historically-authentic exhibition on the other. But the main difficulty was in a different thing. How would you help a visitor grasp the atmosphere of a holiday, which was held more than a hundred years ago? Modern technologies came to the rescue. One of the first to feel the spirit of Tzar’s parties was Nikolay Rastvortsev.

Nikolay Rastvortsev, reporter: “From the ship to the party. In the first hall of the museum space, visitors find themselves at a harbor, with a small ship docked by it. Peter the Great himself is in the cabin. But the Emperor is busy with state affairs – as per ususal – and he had no time for an interview”

There is a premiere in the neighboring hall. One of the most popular plays of the 18th century is performed on stage. Pompous plays of that time did not only require a lot of actors, sound and light effects, but also frequent changes of decorations. The last of it is shown under ones feet – there is a theatrical under stage with a spinning mechanism is installed into the floor

Nikolay Rastvortsev, reporter: “Its impossible to imagine the Peterhof without its fountains. Here is one of the miniatures. But when you get closer, another one of the park’s symbols sets off – a pinwheel. And only thanks to the glass you exit the hall dry”

Another one of the Emperor’s larks is bicycles. In 1867 Alexander II brought the first model from France. It immediately became one of Romanov’s favorite toys, despite lacking comfort. Its hard build earned it a “boneshaker” nickname

Nikolay Alexeev, guide: “We can see the lack of suspension, amortization is missing. There’s only one spring, which acted as amortization under the seat. You could see a person ride off on this bike and return with it in ones hands after only 15 minutes”

The new space is essentially a fantasy-museum on strictly scientific basis. You cant describe all the larks by only showing the exhibits. That’s why the “Tzar’s larks” project is a joint baby of researchers, art experts and theatre artists. 

Elena Kalnitskaya, director of “Peterhof” museum: “We knew how to held exhibitions. We knew how to create museums. But theatre artists wanted a different thing. Theatres are different from museums – they wanted to make it pretty, we wanted to make it scientifically accurate. It took us some time to find a compromise, but we found it”

A miniature of mandative house and a watermill, authentic stuff and pictures of lost buildings – together with video installations and light projects – keep visitors glued to the stands. Its already more than just a museum exhibition

Nikolay Rastvortsev, reporter: “Some exhibits are literally coming alive in one’s hands. From a side, it looks like a simple book with a little text, but when you open it – there’s a lot more information appearing on its pages, pictures, schemes and paintings”.

The appearance of the historic-cultural project in Peterhof is already called something of a breakthrough in museum business. The new form is destined to, first of all, attract the attention of the youths. First responses produce a hope – such projects have a future.