22.06.2017, Saint-Petersburg: the members of the State Hermitage Volunteer Service were given the wonderful opportunity to visit the model-museum «Petrovskaya Akvatoria», which is home to a unique 500 square metre interactive panorama of 18th Century St.Petersburg.
At the start of the visit, the group thought they were not in a museum, but rather a doll’s house, one that would only be of interest to children. However their first impression was mistaken, the Petrovskaya Akvatoria is designed for visitors of all ages, especially for those who love St.Petersburg and are interested in its history. The intricate detail of each piece of the model allows visitors to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the 18th century, and helps them discover new and intriguing facts about the history of the building of St.Petersburg. For example, the volunteers saw what the site, on which the State Hermitage stands today, looked like during this time. In the windows of the house of the Companions of the Tsar and of the famous Ship Builder Feodosy Sklyaev, which was located next to the Winter Palace of Peter I, our young researchers were able to catch sight of a small figure of Peter I, who stands inspecting models of future sailboats.
The excursion was led by Laura Pavlovna Budai – Head of the museum’s Education Department. She told many surprising stories about St.Petersburg in the era of Peter I. For example, once an elephant from Persia was brought to the banks of the Neva, but no one knew how to care for it in such a cold climate! So, when Peter I was offered another elephant as a present, the Russian tsar was forced to decline.
In addition, our volunteers were fortunate enough to see behind the scenes of the museum where the model’s creators showed their workspace and explained the technology used to create the unique atmosphere of Petrine Petersburg.
The State Hermitage Volunteer Service would like to express their sincere thanks to the Petrovskaya Akvatoria for providing them with the opportunity to see this model of early 18th Century St.Petersburg and for helping them deepen their knowledge of the Petrine epoch. The visiting group’s newly acquired knowledge will certainly be useful for the preparation of a wide range of masterclasses being organised for the project «Tour de France 1717 — The Grand Travels of Peter the Great».