20.05.2017, Saint-Petersburg: the Hermitage took part in the annual Museum Night, having organized a special program dedicated to the 300th anniversary of Peter the Great’s trip to France.
For the first time, the Museum Night at the Hermitage took place in two different venues — at the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre, and at the Peter the Great’s Winter Palace, which is currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of the opening of its exhibition dedicated to the life in Peter’s time and the persona of the first Russian emperor. The «wax persona» of Peter the Great, created by Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1725, is currently housed at the Palace. Because of the Museum Night taking place in this museum, many visitors entered its doors for the first time.
For the first time, Peter the Great’s Winter Palace took part in the international Museum Night. The employees of the Hermitage’s educational department and the department of the history of Russian culture developed special tours around the palace for the event. Aside from the tour guides, the guests were greeted by historical figures in costumes — Empress Catherine the Great, Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna and Nicolas Pineau, a carriage maker who told the guests about the carriage «park» of Peter the Great. The guests could learn interesting facts about the daily life of the palace, about the fashion of the first quarter of the XVIII century, and hear the tunes of old clocks, the melodies of which Peter the Great enjoyed listening to. The palace’s visitors had an opportunity to take pictures with the historical figures they liked most.
Thanks to a comfortable bus, provided by the Tele2 company, the visitors could move from the residence of the Russian monarch to France in the times of Peter the Great, shown at the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre. Many surprises awaited the Museum Night participants there. The Hermitage’s Volunteer Service prepared a special program that allowed the visitors to delve into the French Regency epoch — a unique period in French history, about which many Russians do not know much. It was the French Regent Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who ruled France in 1717 and hosted Peter during the latter’s trip to France.
As soon as the guests entered the Staraya Derevnya Centre, they were enveloped by a special atmosphere. For this Museum Night, two arias from Charles-Hubert Gervais’ opera «Hypermnestre» were recreated. This opera was presented to Peter the Great at Palais Royal in 1717. The arias were performed by «Solisty Ekateriny Velikoii» — an old music ensemble headed by Andrey Reshetin. The ensemble also introduced the listeners to the music of French royal musicians — Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Beautiful ladies and gentlemen in early XVIII century costumes, including those with the famous «Watteau pleats», showed the visitors royal dances — menuet, gigue, countrydance and folia. The guests gladly learned the art of countrydance and danced it all evening long. At an improvised scene, excerpts from Pierre de Marivaux’s comedies «Harlequin’s Lesson of Love» and «The Game of Love and Chance» were staged. The guests took part in the reenactments, in which everyone particularly enjoyed the performances of five young men who came to the Museum Night.
The visitors could learn a lot about the objects from Peter the Great’s time in the Hermitage’s collection. During the tour, they were shown a Big French coronation carriage, which Peter the Great ordered in 1717 for the coronation of Catherine I, and the emperor’s wardrobe. At a «The coach! The coach!» event, the participants made their own small paper copies of the Big French carriage, and at the «Create your own tapestry», the participants learned about the «Indian» tapestry collection with exotic animals from Brazil that was gifted to Peter the Great. They could use the pictures of animals they liked to create their own tapestries both on paper and on computers in a computer game specifically created for this purpose by the Hermitage volunteers. Playing a lotto game «Epochs and Styles», the guests learned about the XVIII century French and Russian art by looking at paintings, sculptures and applied arts from the collection of the Hermitage. Among women, the most popular event was «French sheen of Peter’s parties», where they could learn about the fashion of 1717 and the secret language of facial moles in France. The most erudite were awaited by a game «Tour de France 1717: The Grand Journey of Peter the Great», in which both adults and children could show their knowledge of Peter the Great’s life, his era and France’s sights. These events were prepared with the help of the Hermitage’s «Shkolny Centr» department.
At a cafe, the guests could eat confectionery à la française, and by the buses, which moved from Staraya Derevnya to Peter’s palace and back every hour, they could get free coffee from Tele2‘s «coffeemobiles».
This year, not only the people who were physically at Staraya Derevnya could take part in the program — for the first time, the events were livestreamed online in the Hermitage’s group on vk.com and on the website культура.рф. This allowed 12,000 people from different cities to see the Museum Night at Staraya Derevnya virtually; with about 40,000 people overall watching the livestream.
Museum Night at Staraya Derevnya and Peter the Great’s Winter Palace was a great opportunity to make many discoveries and learn a lot about Peter the Great’s era and early XVIII century French art, making a Big trip to France of 1717 following in the footsteps of Peter the Great.