I appreciate all the accolades about the assistance I gave the TS museum authority in acquiring these plates. However, I want to be sure the real credit goes to where it belongs: to the current generation of people, largely women, who now run the museum complex and have ensured that the Alexander Palace is restored responsibly with an attention to authenticity, quality, and detail that had been sadly lacking in prior years.
I have not given financial support to earlier restoration work at the Palace, as I viewed that as largely the responsibility of the Russian government, which has spent vast sums on renovating other imperial-era buildings, sometimes with sublime sensitivity (as at Pavlovsk and the Catherine Palace) and sometimes not so much.
But the sale of these autochromes presented a unique opportunity and a unique problem. They are a critical resource to any serious restorationist and one that should be in the hands of the Palace administration for that purpose. At the same time, government funding – in Russia as anywhere else – is of necessity structured in such a way that blank checks cannot be written for auction bidding against unknown competitors. And that left the museum authorities in a bind at a moment when time was of the essence.
For that reason, I decided to underwrite the bidding to ensure the acquisition of the plates by the museum. And I did so because the hands into which they would pass at the museum were hands that have again taken up the Russian mission to restore her architectural heritage with integrity, both artistic and financial.
I encourage all on this forum and elsewhere to use the new channel that Bob Atchison is working with the museum to create for private donations to the museum’s mission. Not only will it help the museum keep funds on hand to seize fleeting opportunities to return key artifacts to the Palace but – even more importantly – it will demonstrate to the Russian government in a very meaningful way that the Alexander Palace is part of an architectural heritage valued by many all over the world and therefore make it easier for government agencies to justify the direction of the truly large sums needed to the Alexander Palace’s continuing restoration and maintenance.