Russia day five – St Petersburg museums

Yesterday was our final day in St Petersburg. We visited four relatively traditional museums.

First on the list was the State Museum of the History of Religion. They chart the history of religion through the ages. We had a tour from their director who was passionate about what they do.

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Next on on the list was The Zoological Museum, it has incredible collections but felt like stepping back in time. It was particularly great to see the baby mammoth Masha which we tried to borrow for our Siberia exhibition.

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We we then went to Kunstkamera an anthropology museum.

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And finally the Memorial Museum Raznocchinny Petersburg which charts the changing landscape of the city.

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Today is our last day in Russia and we’d like to thank everyone we have met. The staff at the British Council have been incredibly helpful and special thanks go to Olga Sinitsyna who put much of the programme together.

Russia day four – St. Petersburg

Yesterday was the first of our two day visit to St. Petersburg, a beautiful city with some fabulous museums and galleries.

We started off with a meeting with colleagues at the UK Trade and Industry offices at the British consulate. We got some real insights into the Russian museum sector and some of the new developments on the horizon in Russia, such as the very ambitious Tomsk science museum which is currently under development.

Our first museum visit was to the Anna Akhmatova Museum, the shared apartment where the poet lived in the 1920s and 1930s.

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We had a wonderful tour from their staff who powerfully tell the story of the struggle of the intelligencia after the Russia revolution. It was a real eyeopener and they are doing some amazing work with community engagement through things like film and theatre events.

After that we were off to the State Russian Museum, which houses the finest Russian art.

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We we had a quick tour and then a meeting with their deputy director who was able to tell us about some of their work with their visitors such as their ‘beauty before birth’ programme where they work with pregnant women.

Our final museum visit was to the State Museum of Political History. This is an incredible museum that has recently won the best museum in Russia award. It aims to tell the story of political change over the last 150 years or so and achieves this through focussing on choice. At every step of the way different sides of the story are presented and the directions Russia might have turned had things been different.

Interactive audio pen guides

Interactive audio pen guides

Lennin's desk

Lenin’s desk

Janneke selecting possible stock for the People's History Museum shop

Janneke selecting possible stock for the People’s History Museum shop

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Russia day 3 – the tool kit & Kremlin

We had a slightly different day yesterday in that we spent half the day developing our Museums Toolkit to help us better cater for Russian tourists. We met with our colleagues from Visit Britian in the British embassy (we even saw the Ambassador!) and then met with some very helpful tour operators and then a couple of journalists from Time Out.

The Kremlin

The Kremlin

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We had a tour around the Kremlin museums which houses the most incredible collection of material from the Tsars and then we were shown their education programme. They are extremely proud of what they have set up and run workshops facilitated by people dressed in replica pieces.

After the Kremlin we had a whistle stop tour of the Moscow Museum. This interesting museum houses the collection that tells the story of Moscow, but they are in a state of flux before they undergo a massive redevelopment, so really exciting. They have incredibly high ambitions for their space, but are still developing their ideas.

Here are a few things we learnt yesterday:

  • Russian tourists want free entry to museums in the UK, but have a high spend when they are here.
  • visas are still a massive problem for Russia tourists, it takes a long time and is expensive, but they can be used several times once they have one.
  • Russian visitors tend to come in groups (around 50%?), as individuals, or as part of a language school
  • they tend to stay 4-7 nights and 62% just go to London, Manchester is seen a a likely return visit destination
  • Russians want their holidays to be relaxing, but educational as well, so they really like culture
  • Russian tourists investigate places before they arrive, so they would benefit from a webpage in Russian. They also like an audio guide in Russian.

Russia trip day two

Day two of our trip and we visited the The Moscow Lights Museum, the Decorative and Applied Arts Museum and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

Russia study visit

imageI am currently in Russia on a study visit with Janneke Geene from the People’s History Museum. The trip is funded by Arts Council England and organised by the lovely people at the British Council.

The idea of the trip is to put together a toolkit to help regional UK museum better cater for Russian tourists and to promote our museums over here. we have a packed schedule of visiting museums here in Moscow and and in St Petersburg and meeting
journalists, tour operators and Visit Britain colleagues.

After landing in Moscow our first visit was to the amazing State Darwin Museum.

We had a fantastic tour with the Director Anna Klukina.

The interactive gallery

The interactive gallery

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image imageHere are a few things we learnt:

  • most museums in Russia charge an entrance fee (about£5 in this museum)
  • they generate a large income from hosting birthday parties
  • they don’t really get many foreign tourists they mostly just go to places like the Kremlin
  • they mostly just sell a selection of books in their shops I.e. not really any souvenirs
  • they had a nice cafe, but it didn’t really make much money for the museum partly because it has a 50% discount for staff

The other thing I really liked was the use of fairly cheap digital photo frames in the cases to show wildlife clips. This worked really well and a much cheaper alternative to IPads you see in a lot of British museums.

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Our return to Thingvallir

We returned to the magical Thingvallir UNESCO World Heritage Site yesterday with some amazing early images of Iceland from our collection.

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Eyjafjallajökull eruption

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The farm that was covered by ash, now a peaceful idyl

The farm that was covered by ash, now a peaceful idyl

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