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Three unusual exhibitions about lifestyle of monarchs in Russia and France opens in Peterhof


Summer in St. Petersburg is not the best time for indoor cultural events. It is too short. That's why citizens tend to spend the three months outdoors as much as possible. But those running the museum in Peterhof do think about the eternal. Exhibitions are held here throughout the summer. To mark the 65th anniversary of the Hermitage, a "fashion of loneliness" exhibit was held, audio installation "the sounds of the Palace" marked the 35th birthday of "the Palace of Marli" museum. There was also an exhibit marking 300 years since Peter the Great's visit to France.


The first ever official state visit of a Russian leader to France is commemorated by a sculpture at the doors of the Peterhof in Kupecheskaya Gavan. Peter the Great holding the seven-year-old king Ludovic the XV. It is believed that the Tsar said "I have the whole France in my hands!" after he picked up the boy

There is an exhibition next to the monument. All paintings from foreign archives and documents from the funds of Peterhof help you to move back 300 years - into the beginning of the 18th century. It was after the Paris trip of Peter the Great that Russia acquired a taste for everything French.

Elena Kalnitskaya, general director of "Peterhof" museum: "Well, four instance, mirrors. Mirrors became a trendy thing in Russia mainly after Peter's trip. Because mirrors were forbidden by the Russian Orthodox Church. You could not have a mirror at your home. It was believed to be an item of sin. But after Peter saw the mirror gallery of Versailles, French palaces, all of St. Petersburg was shining with mirrors"

Peter also liked Versailles' pavilion for seclusion - the Hermitage. So he ordered the construction of a similar one close to St. Petersburg. The second of three exhibitions - called “the fashion of solitude” - was opened near Peterhof's Hermitage. The Tsar and his servants usually spendttheir time by the large table, far away from eavesdroppers.

Elena Kalnitskaya, general director of "Peterhof" museum: "They wanted to be seen, and they were seen by everyone. They went to ballroom receptions at the big Palace, they held receptions at the park. But they also wanted to have conversations so that rumors would not spread in the society. That's why they had to have a place for a private conversations".

The third unusual exhibition is at the Marli pavilion. The new audio installation adds a degree of authenticity which turns the past into a real thing. Sounds of the 18th century are filling the halls and let you to feel like a guest at a pompous dinner, or a chef at the kitchen, or a servant girl of the Empress’ close circle. 

Daniil Vedernikov, director of public events: "The sounds must correspond with the epoch. Meaning the dishes, the shoes, the way people talk – all this was different from the sounds of today. Because now it's all a little bit plastic, or a chrome metal, but back then it was leather, iron, wood, and mix of an old French and the old Russian pronunciations”

No matter how large scale the French adoptions of Peter the Great were, they were still implemented on the Russian soil – and became naturalized. And today people from all over the world are coming here to admire the genius of this place's founder