“The Triumph of the Romanov Empire”/ Триумф империи Романовых
Невский проспект, 14
Open 24 hours
The year 2013 coincides with a major milestone in Russian history, as it marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty. One of the ways that St. Petersburg, a former capital of the tsars, is commemorating this event is through “The Triumph of the Romanov Empire.” This exhibit, located behind the monument of Nikolai Gogol on Nevsky Prospekt, features a series of displays detailing the achievements that occurred during the Romanov reign.
The four-sided displays use photographs and brief texts to showcase the wide variety of successes that happened during the 300-year Romanov era. The pictures offer gorgeous visual perspectives into the “Old Regime”; the vibrant early 20th-century-era colored photographs of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky are particular stand-outs.
As for the texts, some of the featured accomplishments are interesting but predictable, such as Russian territorial expansion and the heralding of Russian literary legends. However, I was shocked to discover some of lesser-known achievements of tsarist Russia. I will share some of them, along with my rough translations, in the gallery below, along with some of the more interesting quotes from contemporary Russian cultural figures.
In conclusion, I feel that “The Triumph of the Romanov Empire” is a respectful, informative, and beautiful display. Nonetheless, I also feel a tad skeptical about the possible implications that it entails. On one hand, I agree that the Romanov tsars have an enchanting effect (I can personally speak for that, as the grandeur of the last imperial family first introduced me to Russia). On the other hand, I feel that the displays overly-romanticize the tsarist era; despite its many successes, the period was also riddled with tragedies, hardships, and injustices that created the conditions for the eventual Bolshevik overthrow. Nonetheless, I am glad that Russia can openly share its tsarist history after years of tight Soviet restrictions on the topic, creating a more complete, and multi-layered perspective on Russian history. So hurrah for Russian history; recognizing a 400 year anniversary is quite an admirable feat!