Rumyantsev Museum
Румянцевский музей
Английская набережная Невы. Санкт-Петербург. IMG 3528WIR.jpg
Rumyantsev house (44) is centermost, located on the English Embankment in St. Petersburg. It now houses a branch of the State Museum of the History of Saint Petersburg
Established1828; 194 years ago (1828)
Opened in 1831
Dissolved1924 (1924)

The Rumyantsev Museum[a] evolved from the personal library and historical collection of Count Nikolay Rumyantsev (1754–1826). It's origin was in St. Petersburg in the Rumyantsev house or mansion, building number 44 on the English Embankment overlooking river Neva. After Nikolay died in 1926, his brother Sergei converted the house into a museum. It was opened to the general public in 1931, initially for one day a week, and the remaining days were for study.

Maintenance difficulties were among the reasons for the shift of Rumyantsev Museum to Moscow, despite it being affiliated to the Public Library in Saint Petersburg since 1845. In 1862, Nikolay's collection was combined with others, including paintings from the Hermitage Museum, and renamed the Moscow Public Museum and Rumyantsev Museum. By 1917 there would be four name changes and the collection grew to 1.5 million items. This increased to 2.7 million in the next three years following an expropriation and nationalisation campaign. A number of notable people used the library such as Dmitri Mendeleev, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy.

In 1921 the museum and library were administratively and formally separated. A second deposit copy was permitted. In 1924, weeks after the death of Lenin, despite there being some contenders for Lenin's legacy such as the Public Library in Saint Petersburg, Rumyantsev Museum was reorganized as the Lenin Library. The Rumyantsev library became a part of the Lenin Library while other holdings were dissolved among the Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State Museum of Oriental Art among others. The Lenin Library would go on to become the Russian State Library in 1992.


St. Petersburg (1828–1861)

On the death of Count Nikolay Rumyantsev in 1826 his brother Count Sergei Rumyantsev [ru] inherited his property.[4] Sergei knew that his brother Nikolay had wanted his personal art and book collection to be accessible to society.[4] For this he decided to use the Rumyantsev house or mansion [ru],[4] located on the English Embankment in St. Petersburg,[5][6] where Nikolay's collections were already stored.[7] The Rumyantsev Museum was established in 1828.[5] A decree was signed on 22 March 1828 regarding its establishment.[4] The collection was gifted to the government.[8] It was opened to the general public in 1831; initially one day a week for the general public and the remaining days for scholars.[9][10]

The museum's collections, evolving from Count Nikolay Rumyantsev's own,[2][11] included books and manuscripts,[12] art, coins,[4] medals,[13] items from Russian voyages and circumnavigations,[14] and from places such as the Museum of Antiquities in Vilnius.[15] The collection of valuable books totaled to about 29,000 while other items numbered in the hundreds.[16][17] The library included books from between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries.[18] In his lifetime Rumyantsev had funded expeditions and excavations across the world.[19] He also personally sent people across Russia to find books.[20] Employees including a librarian and bibliographer helped Rumyantsev amass his collection.[20] Assistant's included Friedrich von Adelung who was known for collecting foreign reports on Russia.[21] Collaborators included Alexander Vostokov and Eugene Bolkhovitinov.[11] Students of history such as Nikolay Karamzin used these historical resources.[11]

Pedimental sculpture by Ivan Martos inspired by mythology connected with Mount Parnassus, Apollo and Mnemosyne[22]
Pedimental sculpture by Ivan Martos inspired by mythology connected with Mount Parnassus, Apollo and Mnemosyne[22]

An architect was involved in the conversion of the house(s) into a museum.[22] It was at this stage in the mid-1930s when 12 columns were added to the front built up from the first floor.[22] A pediment was added with sculpting by Ivan Martos.[22] The sculpting on the pediment is inspired by mythology connected with Mount Parnassus, Apollo-Musagets, Mnemosyne and the Muses, a shout-out to the buildings' purpose as a museum as well as a reference to Rumyantsev.[23] At a later date the pediment was engraved with the words of Nikolay, "for (the) good (of) enlightenment",[b] also translated as "for the benefit of education",[27] with the entire engraving reading as, "From the State Chancellor Count Rumyantsev for the good enlightenment" (Russian: ОТb ГОСУДАРСТВЕННОГО КАНЦЛЕРА ГРАФА РУМЯНЦЕВА НА БЛАГОЕ ПРОСВЕЩЕ).[16][28]

Since 1845 the Rumyantsev Museum was affiliated with the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg.[29] Dmitry Buturlin, the director of the Imperial Public Library, was the museum director.[16] Vladimir Odoevsky was actively associated with the library for about 15 years and during its shift to Moscow, continued as the library director.[29][30] During the last few years of the museums' life in St. Petersburg the maintenance of the library proved difficult.[31]

In 1863 the Rumyantsev house was sold to the editor of a newspaper.[32] Further changes were made to the house by successive owners.[33] 1930s onwards the house was used by the Museum of the History of Leningrad, now the State Museum of the History of Saint Petersburg.[34][17]

Moscow (1862–1924)

Pashkov House, 19th-century postcard
Pashkov House, 19th-century postcard

In May 1861 under the vision and advice of Nikolai Vasilyevich Isakov [ru] and his predecessor a decree for the "first public museum in Moscow" was framed and during the following year approved by Alexander II of Russia, then the emperor.[5] The contents of the Rumyantsev Museum in St. Petersburg was shifted to Moscow and combined with other items including those from the Moscow University.[5] Pictures were transferred from the Hermitage Museum.[35] There had been certain discontentment among sections of society in St. Petersburg related to the shift of the library to Moscow.[31]

The Appearance of Christ Before the People at the Alexander Ivanov Hall of the Rumyantsev Museum, Moscow, 1881[36]
The Appearance of Christ Before the People at the Alexander Ivanov Hall of the Rumyantsev Museum, Moscow, 1881[36]

The official founding date of the Moscow Public Museum and Rumyantsev Museum (MPRM) is 19 June 1862 when the regulations related to it were passed.[37] While some collections such as the zoological collection were transferred to Moscow University, the Rumyantsev Museum, at the turn of the century, had a library and departments for antiquities, paintings, and ethnography among others.[38][8] Katia Dianina of the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures of the University of Virginia writes that the shift of the museum to Moscow and its opening was the beginning of the city's "cultural renaissance".[39]

From the collections of Soldatyonkov, Ivanov's "Priam asks Achilles to return Hector's body" found its way into the museum collections in 1901[36]
From the collections of Soldatyonkov, Ivanov's "Priam asks Achilles to return Hector's body" found its way into the museum collections in 1901[36]

The museum has undergone a number of changes in name,[12][40][41]

Date Name; additional information
St. Petersburg
1828–1861 Rumyantsev Museum
1862–1869 Moscow Public Museum and Rumyantsev Museum[12]
1869–1913 Moscow Public and Rumyantsev Museum[12]
1913–1917 Imperial Moscow and Rumyantsev Museum[12]
1917–1924 State Rumyantsev Museum;[12] State Rumyantsev Library administratively separated in 1921[42]
State Rumyantsev Museum merged and dissolved
1924–1925 V. I. Lenin Russian Public Library; also known as Lenin Library or Leninka[43]
1925–1992 V. I. Lenin State Library of the USSR[44]
1992–present Russian State Library[43]
Rembrandt's painting Ahasuerus and Haman was one of the museum's highlights
Rembrandt's painting Ahasuerus and Haman was one of the museum's highlights

Its collection included paintings from the Old Masters and some more recent artists.[9] Fyodor Pryanishnikov's collection was part of the museum.[35] Leonid Pasternak's painting of Tolstoy was hung there.[45] Pavel Tretyakov gave the museum Vladimir Borovikovsky's "Portrait of Amvrosy Podobedov".[35] In 1862 the Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther was given to the museum.[46] The collection included the Archangel Gospel.[47] Ivan Tsvetaev was a curator until he went on to found the Pushkin Museum in 1912.[19]

In 1915 a new gallery opened with different floors holding Italian, French, Dutch and Russian works. There was also a section for Japanese and Chinese art.[36] In 1900 the first dedicated space within the Pashkov House was created for the work of Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov and would remain the only named hall, the Ivanov Hall, of the museum library.[36] In December 1921 the museum and library were administratively separated.[42] The library was given the name "State Rumiantsev Library".[42] A second deposit copy was permitted.[48]

The Angel with Golden Hair, a 12th-century icon from Rumyantsev's collection. It is among the oldest Russian icons
The Angel with Golden Hair, a 12th-century icon from Rumyantsev's collection. It is among the oldest Russian icons

Dmitri Mendeleev, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy used the library.[49] Sophia Tolstaya visited the library a number of times, including visits related to her husband Leo.[50][51] Lenin also used and interacted with the library.[52][53] Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, without the means to enroll in formal education during the period of 1973-1976 in Moscow, used the library's scientific literature during those three years.[54] By 1917, the collection included 1.5 million items.[8] This almost doubled to 2.7 million by 1920 following an expropriation and nationalisation campaign.[55]

Lenin died on 21 January 1924.[56] His name carried weight and to name an institution after him was an incentive for ensuring state funding in a difficult period.[56] Despite the presence of contenders for Lenin's legacy, for example the Public Library in Saint Petersburg, on 5 February 1924 it was communicated that the Rumyantsev museum library would be renamed after Lenin and in the coming months it was made a national library.[57][12] This change in name and designation also allowed for the highlighting of the working conditions in the library, including the health of the staff, one-fourth who had tuberculosis.[58] The first director of the Lenin Library or Leninka (as the V. I. Lenin Russian Public Library was popularly known as) was Vladimir Nevsky.[59]

The museum's collection of manuscripts and incunabula was reorganized as the Lenin Library;[60][61] its holdings of Russian art went to the Tretyakov Gallery;[62] the collection of old masters formed the nucleus of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts;[63] this included the The Appearance of Christ Before the People;[19] collections went to the State Museum of Oriental Art;[64] the Dashkov Museum[65] (and Department of Foreign Ethnography[14]) was incorporated into the Museum of the Peoples of the USSR.


  1. ^ Also spelt Rumiantsev[1][2][3]
  2. ^ "Good of enlightenment"[16][24] as compared to "good enlightenment".[25][26] See machine translations of the engraving by Deepl, Google and Yandex translate tools.
  1. ^ "Russian State Library". LibWeb - Participants. Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology. Archived from the original on 13 March 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b Cannon, Angela (9 March 2022). "Origins of the Russian Collection at the Library of Congress (1800-1906) (European Reading Room, Library of Congress)". Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  3. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 233-258.
  4. ^ a b c d e Briskman 2019, p. 505.
  5. ^ a b c d Slepkova, Nadezhda V.; Yusupova, Tatiana I. (2018). "The Zoological Museum of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, 1860s–1910: From an academic institute to a public museum". Centaurus. Wiley. 60 (4): 300. doi:10.1111/1600-0498.12193. ISSN 0008-8994.
  6. ^ "186 years ago: Russia's first private museum opened in St. Petersburg". Russia Beyond. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  7. ^ Solovjeva 1998, p. 134.
  8. ^ a b c Stuart 1994, p. 236.
  9. ^ a b Gray, Rosalind P. (2000). Russian Genre Painting in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford Historical Monographs. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780198208754. In 1831 the collection opened to the public on Mondays, with Sergei's stipulations limiting access to those of good background ... It admitted those wishing to study during the rest of the week.
  10. ^ "Румянцевский музей". Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Mazour 1975, p. 27.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Rumyantsev Museum. (1862–1924)". The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  13. ^ Semenova, Natalya; Delocque, André (2018). The Collector: The Story of Sergei Shchukin and His Lost Masterpieces. Yale University Press. pp. 84, 85. ISBN 978-0-300-24107-5.
  14. ^ a b Balakhonova, Ekaterina I.; Govor, Elena V. (2018). "Old Polynesian tapa in ethnographical collections of the Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology of Moscow University". Moscow University Anthropology Bulletin (Vestnik Moskovskogo Universiteta. Seria XXIII. Antropologia) (2/2018): 103–120. doi:10.32521/2074-8132.2018.2.103-120.
  15. ^ Keršytė, Nastazija (2011). "The Issue of the Recovery of the Collections of the Vilnius Museum of Antiquities". Knygotyra. 56 (0): 33–54. doi:10.15388/kn.v56i0.1512. ISSN 0204-2061.
  16. ^ a b c d Solovjeva 1998, p. 137.
  17. ^ a b FitzLyon, Kyril; Zinovieff, Kyril; Hughes, Jenny (2003). The Companion Guide to St Petersburg. Companion Guides. ISBN 978-1-900639-40-8 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ "Н.П.Румянцев и Румянцевский музей" [NP Rumyantsev and Rumyantsev Museum]. Российская сеть культурного наследия. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  19. ^ a b c Brooke, Caroline (2006). Moscow: A Cultural History. Oxford University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-19-530951-5.
  20. ^ a b Solovjeva 1998, p. 133.
  21. ^ Loewenson, Leo (1936). "Russian Documents in the British Museum (I)". The Slavonic and East European Review. 14 (41): 380–388. ISSN 0037-6795. JSTOR 4203127.
  22. ^ a b c d Solovjeva 1998, p. 129.
  23. ^ Solovjeva 1998, p. 129-130.
  24. ^ Soderstrom, Mark A. (2011). Enlightening the Land of Midnight: Peter Slovtsov, Ivan Kalashnikov, and the Saga of Russian Siberia (Thesis). Ohio State University. p. 302. "the museum of the famous chancellor [Rumiantsev] for the good of enlightenment; take" (Referenced to IRLI)
  25. ^ "Rumyantsev Mansion in Saint Petersburg Russia". Anna Gaplichnaya. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  26. ^ Komissarov, V. V; Soloviev, A. A. (2021). "«На пользу отечеству и благое просвещение»: Библиотечная интеллигенция и война" ["For the Benefit of the Fatherland and Good Enlightenment": Library Intelligentsia and the War]. Интеллигенция и мир (in Russian). Ивановский государственный университет (4): 142–149. ISSN 1993-3959 – via
  27. ^ "History". State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  28. ^ Briskman 2019, p. 506-507.
  29. ^ a b Briskman 2019, pp. 505–506.
  30. ^ "Prince Vladimir Feodorovich Odoyevsky". Moscow Conservatory. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  31. ^ a b Briskman 2019, p. 506.
  32. ^ Solovjeva 1998, p. 138.
  33. ^ Solovjeva 1998, p. 138-140.
  34. ^ Solovjeva 1998, p. 144.
  35. ^ a b c Shergina, Zoya (2011). No. 2. "Pavel Tretyakov: The Collector's Library". The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine (31). ISSN 1729-7621.
  36. ^ a b c d Ivanova, E. A.; Ermakova, M. E. (2017). "Ivanovsky Hall in the History of the Rumyantsev Museum and the Russian State Library". Bibliotekovedenie [Russian Journal of Library Science]. 66 (5): 567–576. doi:10.25281/0869-608X-2017-66-5-567-576. ISSN 0869-608X.
  37. ^ Novokreshchenova, Tatiana I.; Shamraeva, Elena Yu. (15 August 2012). "Rumyantsev Museum: a Living Tradition. Circles on the Water. Exhibition to the 150th Anniversary of the Moscow Public and Rumyantsev Museums". Bibliotekovedenie [Russian Journal of Library Science] (4): 21–24. doi:10.25281/0869-608X-2012-0-4-21-24. ISSN 2587-7372. Официальной датой основания МПиРМ считается 19 июня 1862 г., когда было утверж- дено «Положение о Московском публичном Музеуме и Румянцевском Музеуме». Yandex Translate translation: "The official date of the foundation of the MPiRM is June 19, 1862, when the "Regulations on the Moscow Public Museum and the Rumyantsev Museum" were approved."
  38. ^ "Rumyantsev Museum. (1862–1924). Moscow - German prints". The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  39. ^ Dianina 2010, p. 1122.
  40. ^ Koval, L. M. (2014). "The First World War and the Imperial Moscow and Rumyantsev Museum". Bibliotekovedenie [Library and Information Science (Russia)] (3): 108–111. doi:10.25281/0869-608X-2014-0-3-108-111. ISSN 2587-7372.
  41. ^ Briskman 2019, p. 504.
  42. ^ a b c Stuart 1994, p. 252, 254.
  43. ^ a b Stuart 1994, p. 233.
  44. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 255.
  45. ^ Pasternak, Leonid (1960). "My Meetings with Tolstoy". The Russian Review. 19 (2): 122–131. doi:10.2307/126734. ISSN 0036-0341.
  46. ^ Loewinson-Lessing, Vladimir; Linnik, Irena; Kouznetsov, Youri; Egorova, Xenia (9 December 2019). Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt. Parkstone International. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-78310-426-0.
  47. ^ "Book of the week — Arkhangel' skoe evanglie, 1092 goda". J. Willard Marriott Library Blog. The University of Utah. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  48. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 254, 256, 258.
  49. ^ Briskman 2019, p. 510. "Славу и гордость российской культуры, первой публичной общедоступной библио- теки Москвы составляют ее читатели ... Среди них можно назвать Л.Н. Толстого, В.И. Ленина, В.О. Ключевско- го, Н.С. Тихонравова, В.Я. Брюсова, Д.И. Мен- делеева, А.Ф. Писемского, В.Е. Маковского, Ф.М. Достоевского и многих других. Их име- на зафиксированы в книге записей читателей" (In Russian)
  50. ^ Golinenko, O. A.; Rozanova, S. A.; Shumova, B. M.; Pokrovskaya, I. A.; Azarova, N. I., eds. (1985). The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy. Translated by Cathy, Porter. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-528-18-2 – via Internet Archive.
  51. ^ Guzeva, Alexandra (28 March 2012). "Pashkov House in Moscow: Home to rare books". Russia Beyond. Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  52. ^ Lenin, Vladimir Ilʹich (1983). Kartashov, Nikolaĭ Semenovich (ed.). Lenin and Library Organisation. Progress Publishers – via Internet Archive.
  53. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 253.
  54. ^ deChambeau, Aimée (September–October 2002). "Struggles of the "Father"". Ad Astra. National Space Society. 14 (5): 42 – via DSpace Repository, Stony Brook University.
  55. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 237, 250.
  56. ^ a b Stuart 1994, p. 233-234.
  57. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 233-234, 236.
  58. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 254, 255.
  59. ^ Stuart 1994, p. 233, 255.
  60. ^ Dianina 2010, p. 115.
  61. ^ "Information". RSL Official website. Russian State Library. Archived from the original on 16 August 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  62. ^ Antonov, Oleg (2012). No. 4. "The Formation of a Great Collection". The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine (37): 26. ISSN 1729-7621.
  63. ^ Golenko, Konstantin V. (1973). "The Numismatic Department of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow". The Numismatic Chronicle. 13: 208. ISSN 0078-2696. JSTOR 42664676. ... It was based on the collections of the former Rumyantsev Museum and ...
  64. ^ "A Unique Collection With a Thousand-Year History. The State Museum of Oriental Art". Комиссия Российской Федерации по делам ЮНЕСКО. 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  65. ^ Briskman 2019, p. 507.
Works cited

Further reading