The exhibition focuses on the art of building in Old Russia and particularly on the building of Moscow. Different building professions such as bricklayers, carpenters and carvers, as well as various building materials and techniques are presented in greater detail than at other exhibitions.
Exhibits from the museum’s unique collections (building ceramics, house carving, metal architectural millwork, white stone carving elements from Moscow churches, icons with architectural background) make the backbone of the exposition and reflect the great technical and artistic skill of Russian builders. Telling about the architectural masterpieces that have not survived, the exhibition fulfills the most important of museum tasks – to collect and preserve artifacts as witnesses of the past.
After long research the museum experts managed to restore some of the masters’ names that were undeservingly forgotten.
The two-level exhibition occupies the Atrium and Ap Socle halls.
The Atrium Hall
At the Atrium Hall the exhibits are arranged in several groups: house carving (fragments of wooden dwelling houses
The Ap Socle Hall including gates, doors, architraves, wicket-doors, and carved boards); metal architectural millwork (metal doors, window lattices, proscenium borders), architectural ceramics (architraves, friezes, façade tiles), and saved white stone décor elements of Moscow buildings.
The masterpieces presented at the Atrium Hall were created by well-known Moscow masters: you can see a bell made by Dmitry Motorin, a ceramic panel picture by Stepan Ivanov the Half-Fiend, and a fireplace “Mikula Selyaninovich and Volga” dedicated to Russian epic ballad characters and made after Mikhail Vrubel’s sketches. The hall is high enough to house large-scale architectural constructions: the visitors can see the magnifical gate of Nikolo-Rezvansky convent with icons above, the weathercock from Varvarskaya Tower of Kitay Gorod, gate with a wicket-door from Khoshev’s house, and other architectural pieces. Among the exhibits there are examples of carved and gilded church interior décor, namely portals and holy gates. The XVII century portal of a North Russian church, which presents an example of carving and polychrome ornament, is worth special attention.
At the Ap Socle Hall, you will find out secrets of building masters of different professions and their techniques and art conceptions. The collection of building materials is of particular value. It reveals the practical side of building art and consists of bricks with marks, metal bars, various kinds of tile roofing, wooden ploughshares, nails, log house fragments, and floor board. Some of the exhibits presented here were discovered in 2007 in the course of restoration and archaeological research: a detail of the carved white stone throne from the Church of the Ascension and a fragment of a XVI century oak log house from the Moscow Kremlin.
In this part of the exhibition, metal is shown as an additional building material. Besides the hammering and notching techniques, the focus is made on metal articles used in building process and as architectural details.
At the exhibition one can see rare examples of icons illustrating different building jobs: brickmaking, laying foundation for a log house, carpenters’ and brickmakers’ work. A special section of the exhibition is devoted to building instruments and technical devices. A unique collection of instruments presented counts more than 30 items.
A composition about Old Russian architecture arranged in the centre of a glass prism unites the upper and the lower level of the exposition.
Regardless of the large scale of the exhibition, which includes more than 800 items, a separate digital exposition is available at the halls. Both Atrium and Ap Socle exhibition halls are equipped with plasma panels featuring films on building traditions in Old Russia as well as the museum’s history. A self-service terminal at the Ap Socle hall will guide you around all the exposition of the museum-reserve.