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Unique folios of the 16th – 20th centuries displayed at the Presidential Library

24 October 2019

The exhibition "Monuments of Book Culture: From Print to Digital" was launched on October 23, 2019 in the historical building of the Synod (Senate Square, 3). The exposition is based on publications from the collections of the Presidential Library, which included books (about two and a half thousand) of the 16th – 20th centuries. The publications were acquired by VTB Bank at Christie’s auction and donated to the Presidential Library in May 2009 at the opening ceremony of the institution. Moreover, electronic copies of these priceless books enter the library’s collections when they are digitized.

Most part of the collection is unique: many books can be attributed to the monuments of state and some of world significance. It is noteworthy that the guests of the Presidential Library will not only see rarities, but thanks to modern technologies they will be able to “look through” them: the electronic copies presented on multimedia screens allow studying this or that monument of literature in great detail.

The note on Muscovy by the German diplomat and traveler Sigismund Herberstein, published in Basel in 1551, is considered the earliest book in the collections of the Presidential Library. The Bible is presented  among other rare copies - one of the best illustrated editions of the 17th century: the New and Old Testaments translated by Martin Luther (1672), as well as the rarest copy of the New Testament (1717), published by decree of Peter I, from a print run in the Hague, but later almost completely destroyed for non-compliance with the Orthodox canon.  

Guests of the Presidential Library will be able to see luxuriously executed illustrated editions, for example, coronation collections of Russian monarchs with drawings and engravings by famous artists, starting from Anna Ioannovna: “Antiquities of the Russian State, Published by Highest Order” (1849–1853); “Byzantine enamels” (1852); "Panorama of Moscow" with a length of more than 4.5 meters, released in Paris in the first half of the XIX century and many others.

The exposition features the first publications of prominent Russian writers and poets, including Ivan Bunin, Nikolai Gogol, Fedor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Nekrasov, published during the lifetime of the authors. The autographed works by Russian art historian N. N. Wrangel, Mongolian and Tibetan researcher P. K. Kozlov, artist D. I. Mitrokhin, and books from the imperial and grand-ducal libraries are also of interest.

It is worth noting that part of the exhibition is devoted to prohibited publications of the XIX – XX centuries. For example, in the binder of the magazine “Capital and Manor” in № 55 for 1917, you can see little-known photographs of the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II made by his wife Alexandra Fedorovna. For a long time this issue was withdrawn from circulation. Presented here is the collection “Behind the Scenes of the Security Division” published in Berlin in 1910 was banned from publication until 1917 along with a provocateur’s diary, letters from security guards and secret instructions.

It should be noted that the exhibition “Monuments of Book Culture: From Paper to Digit” runs through January 20, 2020. To visit the exhibition please sign up by phone (812) 334-25-14 or send an email to: excursion@prlib.ru.