21 february 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits the Tsarskoye Selo open-air museum to see the progress made in its restoration


Prime Minister Putin toured the Hermitage pavilion in the Catherine Park.

Mr Putin saw restored lifting platforms at work. Only 40% of these hoists were preserved, according to the museum's director Olga Taratynova.

"That's reliable for you," said Mr Putin.

He also toured one of the four renovated studies at the Hermitage and inquired whether the parquet had been restored. The museum's director replied that the study had original 18th century parquet, and the ornaments on the plafonds were painted according to 18th century sketches.

The prime minister inquired how many pavilions had been restored already and how many more would be restored by the anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo. Ms Taratynova replied that of the eight pavilions in the open-air museum, one had been restored the previous year and the remaining seven would be restored in 2010.

The prime minister pointed out that over 147 million roubles had been allocated for the restoration of Tsarskoye Selo last year, with another 801 million roubles appropriated this year.

He inquired whether the museum had received the gold which he had ordered to provide for gilding the façade of Catherine Palace to make it look as it did in the time of Empress Elizabeth.

Ms Taratynova replied that a total of 140 kilograms of gold had been received, and the best restorers had trialed this gold using ten different gilding techniques. The first covering samples started peeling in two months and the last eight months after they were applied. "The gilded façade starts peeling very quickly because of high humidity and temperature gradients," she said. Ms Taratynova pointed out that Empress Catherine the Great also decided against decorating the palace's façade with gold.

Mr Putin recalled a legend that Catherine the Great once saw the palace shining so bright in the sun that she thought it was on fire and decided not to gild its façade.

Then the prime minister headed for Alexander Palace to tour its northern part, whose façade and the grand enfilade are being restored.