The State Russian Museum is the largest collection of Russian Fine Arts in the world. It was opened on 7 (19) March 1898 and became the first in Russia State museum of Russian art. The collections of Russian Museum consists of about 400 000 exponents. There are the masterpieces of all basic trends and schools of national fine art, all its kinds and genres from X to XX the century. Every year in the museum there are about 30 exhibitions, to many of which catalogues, albums and booklets are published.
The museum is placed in former buildings located in the historical centre of Saint Petersburg. They are - the Stroganov and the Marble palace and the main building of the museum - the Bnois Building. The Mikhailovsky Palace with its lateral wings and a garden takes a big territory between the Moika River and Art Square, Sadovaya Street and the Griboedov Canal. The palace was build for the Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, the junior son of Paul I (here its name comes from - Mikhailovsky).
The building was started on 26 July 1819 by the project and under the personal direction of the architect Karlo Rossi on the site of hothouses of the Mikhailovsky palace. By September 1825 the construction of the palace was completed excluding some garden works.
In 1894 the Mikhailovsky palace began to ruin because of becoming an apartment house by its new owners. In 1895 it was transferred into possession of the Treasury with the purpose of arranging a museum in it. In 1896-97 the Mikhailovsky palace was arranged for placing their collections of the newly created museum of Russian Art of Alexander III. Only part of interiors retained their original decoration.
After 1917 the museum got the name of the State Russian Museum. Its collection was greatly enlarged by confiscated private art collections, removal of church treasures and re-arranging of museum funds. The icons by the work of Andrei Rublev, Dionisiy, Simon Ushakov and other masters, confiscated from closed and destroyed churches, are of the great value. The richest one is the collection of art of 18, first half of 19th centuries, included the works of I.N.Nikitin, A.M.Matveev, F.S.Rokotov, A.G.Venecianov, K.P.Brullov, A.A.Ivanov , I.K.Aivazovsky, I.P.Martos.
The creative work of the masters of the second half of 19th century is represented by Peredvizhnik's art, first of all by pictures of I.N.Kramskoy, N.N.Ge, G.G.Myasoedov, V.G.Perov, F.A.Bruni, I.I.Shishkin, A.K.Savrasov, I.E.Repin, V.I.Surikov. The canvases of the masters of late 19 - early 20th centuries are well presented also including painting of V.A.Serov, M.V.Nesterov, I.I.Levitan, K.A.Korovin, A.I.Kuindgy, M.A.Vrubel, N.K.Rerekh, A.N.Bnois. The department of the museum devoted to the creative works of the artists of the mid 20th century is also very luxurious.
During the Great Patriotic War the Mikhailovsky palace was badly damaged by bombardment of the city. After reconstruction the museum was open for visiting again. Now the Russian Museum is one of the largest scientific and art institutions of Russia.
The museum numbers nearly 400,000 exhibits. It is the largest in the country collection of Russian art, from ancient icons to the Avant-garde painting of the XX century.
Visiting St.Petersburg without visiting the State Russian Museum means – you have not visited St.Petersburg. You should definitely spend 2-3 hours in this outstanding place, which is on the 2nd place after the Hermitage.