Author Topic: Alexander Palace Restoration  (Read 162036 times)

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Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #330 on: August 02, 2012, 03:53:36 PM »
In the next few weeks we'll get an update directly from the Palace and what's really happening.  The new "Friends of the Alexander Palace" will put everyone in direct touch with Tsarskoye Selo.  There will be a monthly newsletter where you'll get all the latest on events, exhibitions, conferences, tours, announcements, etc, regarding the palace directly from them.  You'll all be invited to join and we are planning some really exciting ways you will be able to support the Alexander Palace.

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #331 on: August 02, 2012, 04:10:16 PM »
I am working with the palace to find away so people can donate directly to the restoration using PayPal or something like that.  We really don't know how it will work yet, but I hope people would be able to donate towards specific items - like a chair in the Mauve Room - or toward specific rooms or initiatives like restoring Maria Feodorovna's Rose Garden.  Also I hope we can figure out a way to subscribe to monthly donations - like $20 a month.  If we had a thousand members doing that - well can you imagine what it could accomplish?  Everything would go directly to the palace museums.  My goal is to get 1,000 members in the first year - that way we can really prove something to Tsarskoye Selo and show how interested we all are.  We will definitely be trying to figure out a way so people can order books directly from the Tsarskoye Selo Museums.  We all know how hard it is to get books on the palace.  I hope there will be a way for Tsarskoye Selo to announce new publications and members could pre-subscribe to them.  We will definitely be doing a Friends trip next summer....

We also want to help and support all bloggers and websites that are talking about the palace and helping to support Tsarskoye Selo Museums.  This is not the only place to talk or learn about the palace. We'll be wanting to push content out on Facebook, Pinterist and other social media with pictures, stories and general news about the Alexander Palace.  Our goal is to marshal and organize our forces to do whatever we can to help.

Offline Brassov

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #332 on: August 09, 2012, 05:56:16 AM »
Although the restorations of the parade rooms appear to be complete, one cannot help but notice that the furnishings and paintings are not anything like the original. The placement and size of the paintings are all wrong, IMO. I dont think they would have left the furniture or the paintings in these important rooms for the Germans, so has what happened to these things I wonder ? On the other hand though, these rooms are so beautiful that they almost look as if they were designed to be left empty, for everyone to admire the architectural details, pillars and floors, and the beautiful chandeliers.
Certainly the most beautiful empty rooms in any palace in Europe. 

Offline Brassov

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #333 on: August 09, 2012, 06:30:46 AM »
That tented room still bugs me. I remember seeing the photograph of the 1949 exibition where the same sort of tented ceiling was used, in one of the parade rooms. But it was tented differently and not in a circular pattern. Unfortuanately the 'tent' fabric has been placed below the cornice. If it had not, we would probably be able to identify the room immediately. ( See the old black and white photos )  The cornice in MF's bedroom looks like an Acanthus design. Could this have been her bedroom ? However the placement of the windows also indicate that it may be a corner room. Also why would the Navy, which occupied these rooms for so many years have a pink tented room ? This makes me think the wall paper is original, but not the ceiling.
All these mysteries !!!   

Offline EmmyLee

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #334 on: August 09, 2012, 11:23:59 PM »
Brassov, I was looking through some photos of the AP and I think this one might be the one you mean:



I'm not sure which parade room it is (other than that it isn't the Semicircular Hall) because all of the other photos of the parade rooms that I have don't show the ceiling. Might have to do some more hunting around.

Ah-- is this the same room that you can see through the arch?

« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 11:29:02 PM by EmmyLee »

Offline EmmyLee

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #335 on: August 10, 2012, 01:18:22 PM »
I also contacted Joanna about the first photo and she said, "I think this is the corner of the Marble #12. As this style was used c1949 and at that time they were restoring AP - decision as naval institute in 1953) - I wonder if the lack of materials after the war, they used the paint/material/style to cover ceilings in other rooms - was the right wing used as part of the 1949 exhibit i.e. #33. The ceiling is low to the arch of the windows, so may be 2nd floor."

This makes sense because in all of the other photos of the parade rooms, none of them have this tented ceiling. It was likely just there temporarily, or at least in the 40s-50s. So Brassov, I think you're right that the tented ceiling in our mystery room was not original either.

Offline Brassov

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #336 on: August 13, 2012, 01:32:45 PM »
Yes, these are the photos I saw, and that ceiling has mystified me ever since.  Thank you for finding it. The only thing I ask myself is, why make such a fuss with a tented ceiling ? Was the ceiling above it perhaps in a state of such bad disrepair that it had to be covered in some way ? And why do the same to a room on the other side, unless some Soviet curator was a frustrated interior decorator and had a " thing "' about tented ceilings and pink wall paper ! I really dont think the original palace decorations included tented ceilings. At least I have never seen any records of any.
Also see all the beautiful pictures covering the walls. In all the old pre-revolution photos I have seen, these are missing. Or am I mistaken ? The original parade rooms leading off the Semi-circular Hall never had groupings of small paintings. Only very large ones. Were the small paintings perhaps hung as part of a special exhibition ? Would the museum curators have evacuated so many small paintings before the war, if so they must have been very valuable, and one wonders where they are now. Why were they hanging on the walls ?
I wish we could find out, also about the pink wall paper, which I am now absolutely convinced is original. The Soviets used this part of the palace as offices. Why would they hang feminine pink wall paper in an office ? As opposed to the normal grey or green paint ? This must have been a womans bedroom. Perhaps MF's, or someone else. Men in those days did not have pink bedrooms I imagine !
Once the renovations are complete, we will never know. This palace continues to fascinate. And it is the last one to do so,as all the others have been "redone' to attract as many tourists as possible, and hold no more clues or mysteries.       

Offline Forum Admin

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #337 on: August 13, 2012, 01:37:02 PM »
Brassov,

The current leaders of the Tsarskoye Selo Museums are not like the "old days".  They are dedicated scholars and historical specialiasts, who are committed to the most accurate restorations possible, and to preserve, record and document all of the original "fabric" of the Alexander Palace.  The current vision is to restore the AP to exactly the way it looked while Nicholas and Alexandra lived there.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #338 on: August 13, 2012, 01:46:31 PM »
I really dont think the original palace decorations included tented ceilings.    

They very well may have.  Napoleon's Eqyptian campaign unleashed a rage for camp-style decor across Europe.  Rooms in several of his palaces had tented ceilings including, if I remember correctly, the Empress Josephine's bedroom at Fountainbleau.  The camp tent theme was used by high society across Europe around the time the Alexander Palace was being furnished and decorated.


The original parade rooms leading off the Semi-circular Hall never had groupings of small paintings.      

The large folio volume that was published in Russia using the first box of autochromes of the Tsarskoye Selo palaces from 1917 contains a picture of the south wall of the parade room immediately to the west of the Semicircular Hall.  The large central mirror is flanked by groupings of small paintings, and groupings of small paintings can be partially seen on the wall between this room and the Semicular Hall, as well as reflected in the mirror from the opposite wall.  So clearly there were groupings of small paintings in at least that parade room toward the end of Nicholas' and Alexandra's occupancy of the palace.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 01:48:39 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline Brassov

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #339 on: August 13, 2012, 03:43:14 PM »
I know. I was referring to the opposite wing of the palace. If as you say, the Palace is to be restored to exactly what it looked like at the time of NII, can we expect to see the rooms of Alexander II and III in this wing restored as well ? They were left largely untouched by Nicholas and Alexandra (thankfully). Probably because he was born there, and perhaps as a memorial to his parents. I was led to believe that this part of the palace was to be recreated as restaurants, lecture halls and exhibition space ?
Are we to see the principles of the Charter of Venice and the Leningrad School applied to this part of the Palace as well. ? These rooms are equally historically important surely.
One must also remember that Anna Zelenova and Anatoly Kuchumov and others were part of "The Old Days", and many people may not know that they were responsible for what was and is the finest restoration in the world.
I hope the current Tsarskoye Selo experts approach the rest of the restoration with the same sensitivity and effort to save it for future generations. After all it took the Germans 3 years to virtually destroy it, and almost 60 years of doing virtually nothing to restore it ! So I hope you are right, and that we are not going to end up with a soulless enfilade of lecture halls and tourist shops in this part of the palace. And good luck to the Tsarskoe Selo experts in trying to get the furniture and other architectural items back. I am thinking particularly of the beautiful crystal lanterns hanging today in the Egyptian Vestibule at Pavlovsk, which were previously in the AP.
     
   

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #340 on: August 15, 2012, 04:16:21 AM »
Having visited Maria Feodorovna's bedroom while under the auspices of the Baltic Fleet, I can assure you the walls were not papered pink, nor was there a tented ceiling.   The fireplace remained as did the cornice.   The room, used as a library, was divided up with tall bookcases and gave a totally utilitarian impression.   When I asked permission to take photographs, this was denied.   What they could not deny me was the opportunity to look out of the windows and take in the aspect of the room where Nicholas was born, he and Alexandra spent their honeymoon.   I think it will be a long time before TSM authorities have the funding or time to restore this room along with the others on the west wing - although potentially this could be the most 'profitable' area of the restored palace housing lecture theatre, commercial and other educational activities.   I believe the restaurant area will be in the basement - a reflection of Nicholas' I choice for food preparation!   Because of their siting, it does not appear it will be possible to restore Elizabeth Feodorovna's rooms which, I believe, remain largely intact but delapidated.

An Instrument of Restitution has been worked on for well over ten years, the object being that displaced items be returned to their original 'homes'.   Having witnessed the huge, leather-bound volumes around which the endeavour to restore all items removed from the Alexander Palace and resited at Peterhof, the Hermitage and - the majority - at Pavlovsk, this is a massive task which seems to be going nowhere.   We had Tatiana Nicholaevna's nurse's dress, cape and apron on display at the Alexander Palace for a while - 'borrowed' from Pavlovsk, but even that had to be returned.   Like former Imperial retainers, soviet curators were meticulous in continuing the cataloguing of every item and its precise location.

Much of what rightfully belongs to the Alexander Palace remains at Pavlosk...some adopted to appear as a natural part of Pavlovsk's possessions, but much not displayed.   The Grand Palace at Pavlovsk does not attract the number of visitors it did soon after its restoration and during the very active and forward-looking leadership of Yuri Mudrov.  His successor, Nicolai Tretchakov, has now departed and I believe he has been replaced by a female director.   The new director at Peterhof is also a woman.   

Now we have a trio of women running those palace complexes, we might witness a very different approach and a greater degree of sensitivity applied to this difficult subject.   However as long as the all-powerful Piotrovsky Dynasty reigns at the Winter Palace/Hermitage - where they have so much they don't know what to do with it all - resistance will remain.

Christine M       

Offline Brassov

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #341 on: August 15, 2012, 03:19:12 PM »
This does not bode well for the Alexander Palace, and it appears as if the next part of the struggle is about to begin.
First restoring the building itself, and now to get the contents back !!!

What is the point of an empty palace ? Its gone back to the state it was in when the Nazis arrived.............a virtually empty building, but in a better condition than it is in today.

Seems a bit pointless really.

Offline ChristineM

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #342 on: August 15, 2012, 05:10:36 PM »
Could 'Brassov' be a diminutive for 'brassed-off'?   Just an impression probably accidentally presented by, particularly, the last post.

Those of us who have spent the last twenty + years fighting for the future of the Alexander Palace could never have imagined how much we have progressed over the past couple of years and never more so than during recent weeks.   The battle for the Alexander Palace pre-dates the fall of Soviet rule - and one very brave Russian man in particular did give his life for what he believed in with such passion... 'accidentally' killed in a road traffic accident. 

 We have been in it for the long haul with a belief the day would dawn when the Alexander Palace would no longer be the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet bristling with armed guards, watch towers, barbed wire and snarling dogs.    It appeared to many we were fighting a cause which would never be realised and frequently we were told this directly.   However, we never gave up.

It was with great joy I had the good fortune to be present on the day the Family Wing of the Alexander Palace was officially handed over to the authorities at Tsarskoe Selo Museums in the presence of the Russian Minister of Culture and the Governor of St Petersburg.   A memorable day of rejoicing which, although we hoped, deep down could never have imagined would arrive, making it so much the sweeter.

Almost another decade elapsed before Naval personnel vacated the building and, in its entirety, it was handed over to the Department of Culture and the care of the Directorate of Tsarskoe Selo Museums. 

 Few of us had the opportunity of seeing the interiors not so much devasted by the Nazis, more destroyed by the Soviets.   I had the privilege of being one and Bob Atchison another.   Still we have to almost pinch ourselves when we see the enfilade of Formal Rooms reinstated... beautifully and sympathetically restored by craftsmen of the highest order.   Empty they may appear to some, but to us they are full...full of the spirit of aspiration of so many who believe this to be one of the most beautiful neo-classical buildings in the world:  a building with the most extraordinary and incomparable personal history stretching across two tumultuous centuries:  a building whose future looks bright and which will grow to once again display its full glory for generations to come.

Now so much has been achieved and in so short a time, we can afford to be truly optimistic.   Nobody ever said it would be easy, but for culture and history to win the battle over 'defence' and war is a mighty victory.   

And so we will continue with our endeavours and support the Directorate of Tsarskoe Selo Museums and its master craftsmen fired with optimism and anticipation.

Christine M.   

Offline NAAOTMA

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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #343 on: August 15, 2012, 07:54:32 PM »

Christine, thank you for your post.

Those of us who who have loved the Alexander Palace and all the Russian history it reflects can only feel joy and deep gratitude at it's current metamorphisis. Sometimes I want to pinch myself that it has happened in my lifetime.

I saw the Alexander Palace for the first time on a dank misty day in April 1972 as a college student. I never dreamed that day it would be possible for me to return to it and be allowed inside, in the park and to attend a wonderful Saturday morning liturgy at the Feodorovsky Sobor. But that came to pass in the autumn of 2006.

Since then, I have watched the rebirth of the Alexander Palace in the last few years not only grateful that this beautiful building iis taking its rightful place among the architectural treasures of Russia, but that its restoration also illustrates the point "Beauty Will Save The World".

When I visited the Catherine Palace in 1972, the palace guide informed us that the restoration would continue for another 30 to 40 years. That was not presented as a problem, merely a fact. The museum staff were then and are now in it for the long haul.

Melissa K.














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Re: Alexander Palace Restoration
« Reply #344 on: August 15, 2012, 08:36:01 PM »
Bob Atchison and Suzanne Massie were the first American citizens to set foot in the Alexander Palace since before the Second World War.  Bob is in intimate discussion with the Tsarskoye Selo Museum Preserve about the progress of restorations and the future of the process, and what can be done to help.

It is not nor will be easy.  However as Christine said, the steps made so far were unthinkable just 20 years ago.  Imagine what will be achieved in the next 20 years.  We must be positive in our thoughts, prayers, statements, and actions.  Negativity will only impede the process and not do anything to further the actual goal: The ultimate restoration of the Alexander Palace, to the best extent possible.