Walking through historic St. Petersburg is like walking through a gallery of world art and architecture. I went through all the iconic city sights, but I was the most impressed by Peterhof (located about 30 km from the city centre), which was unbelievable and breathtaking. There is no way I could describe it by words. Thus, I was very surprised when I noticed that Peterhof exhibition is taking place at the Bratislava Castle, Slovakia. So, I visited it – The Golden Age of Peterhof.
“Peter, a young ruler of the Muscovite state, visited Bratislava in the summer 1698 as part of the Grand Embassy, a diplomatic mission to Europe (1697 – 1698). In 2018, Slovakia and Russia celebrated the 320th anniversary of the historic visit with an exhibition from Peterhof, a place where the tsar materialized the most amazing things he saw in the European countries.” (official opening text of the exhibition)
© Dmitry Balakirev, Maxim Plaksin – St. Petersburg today (from a drone)
Peterhof’s Golden Age exhibition is an admirable piece of work of the Slovak National Museum – the Historical Museum for several reasons. Firstly, the exhibition respects and recognizes rich European history in which Slovakia is not forgotten. Secondly, it is a matter of trust – it is not an everyday occasion that Peterhof State Museum grants a permission according to which the priceless historical objects are lent outside of Russia. Last but not least, we can see the power of art and culture in the context of modern times – our ancestors developed culture and created art – human values – lasting through the ages.
The exhibition presents beautiful details and precise artwork which created stories of that time, described a lifestyle and social living standards. I pretty liked a simplicity of the exhibition, its spaciousness and determination to pay a tribute to artists.
The premises of the Bratislava Castle have also contributed to the majestic atmosphere. The Castle has been recently refurbished. Today, it definitely belongs among the places where you can get a lot of inspiring energy for future projects (artwork).
There is always something very special, no matter which exhibition in the world you visit. The Golden Age of Peterhof has also a very interesting “chair” to see – the throne of Peter II. It says a story of Alexander Danilovich Menshikov, one of the most influential man in Russia with the highest military rank – Generalissimus and enormous wealth. Menshikov wanted his daughter to be married by Peter II. More power he gained, more arogant he behaved. Therefore, he was not popular in the old Russian nobility, especially the Dolgorukovs and the Galitzines. Once united, they used all his criminal acts and political sins to overthrow him. One of them was a very foolish gesture – Menshikov sat on the Peter II. throne whilst waiting for him. With a help of General Saltykov, Menshikov was arrested, deprived of all his dignities and sent to Beryozovo in Siberia where he died.
It is considered to be an absolute disrespect when someone else than the ruler sits on the throne.
Why did I choose to go to Bratislava to write about the Golden Age of Peterhof? As a philanthropist, a lover of culture and art, I feel a responsibility to help with presentations of amazing cultural events. The exhibition in Bratislava is for the entire region around us, it brings a dimension of international cooperation and cultural exchange. I think we should appreciate it.
Ultimately, what do you consider as the most valuable diplomatic mission worldwide? I believe that culture and art speak by very clear languages showing us in which direction countries and people develop. Consequently, we can observe what sort of values have been created and preserved by the time.
The exhibition also offers Peterhof’s audio-visual presentations. Visitors can see nice photos and read about the Court.
I was very pleased that the curators of the exhibition prepared a small cinema room. You can watch a very authentic documentary telling stories of art, architecture and relationships of the Elite during historic times. The room is situated at the very rear part of the exhibition providing unobstructed view and privacy with a comfortable sitting area. It is a nice experience to sit down, watch documentary and think about what you have just seen.
The exhibition provides a room for self-reflection – does it make sense to exhibit art abroad? Peterhof’s administrators replied – even though Slovakia is a small country, where no hundred thousands are visiting museums and international press is not writing big headlines about the country, the Golden Age of Peterhof has happened.
I respect representatives of international cultural diplomacy, whom we often do not recognize, but they do terrific job, often underestimated, for a whole society. The Golden Age of Peterhof is a model example of cultural diplomacy. In addition, I would like to mention Professor Luboslav Moza – Artem Gallery – who is a keen supporter of art and exhibitions. His enthusiasm and determination have helped him to organize more than 500 art exhibitions in the country and abroad. Based on my own experience, the more cultural and art exhibitions you visit at home and abroad, the more you respect the life and the gift of existence on the planet – the freedom to create is a real privilege – let’s take care of it.
The exhibition is located on the second floor of the Bratislava Castle. The weather was nice, so I took a picture of Bratislava through the glass of a window. Well, a photograph was really cool. However, I wanted to make it special and turned it to monochrome style. Why? I thought about Bratislava in the next 20 years – how will it look? Perhaps, people will say that not much have changed.
That’s all right. Panorama might be the same, however, I hope that people gradually began to understand the meaning of art and its position in the development of cultural identity. Thus, relationship to the culture will be different, better. The Golden Age of Peterhof provides an extraordinary example how to see and understand the meaning of art in a modern context. The exhibition respects the art, takes us through history and emphasis on humanity.
Dates: from 19. 10. 2018 to 31. 3. 2019
Ticket price: 10 EUR, you can buy it directly when visiting the exhibition at the Bratislava Castle