IN THE CHILDREN'S ROOMS OF THE ALEXANDER PALACE, 23.11.2011
Tsarskoye Selo, the Art and Pedagogical Toy Museum of Sergiyev Posad, the Obraztsov Puppet Theater and Ostankino Museum-Estate of Moscow joined efforts for the exhibition In the Children’s Rooms of the Alexander Palace which started June 2, 2011. Photographs of the display
Set out in the former rooms of the last tsar’s children on the second floor of the Alexander Palace, this exhibition will tell about the life of children of Russian emperors at Tsarskoye Selo, from Nicholas I’s to Nicholas II’s reigns.
You will see over 200 objects, many of them unique and displayed for the first time. Of particular interest are the authentic toys of the last tsar’s children, including the grand duchesses’ favourite French porcelain doll and Heir Tsesarevich Alexei’s “American Indian” wigwam and pirogue (see the third picture row below).
Open till April 1, 2012 at the Alexander Palace (2nd floor), 10.00-17.00 daily except Tuesdays and the last Wednesday of each month.
The Alexander Palace was a beloved home for several generations of Russian imperial families. Although the New (later Alexander) Palace was constructed on the orders of Catherine II for her grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, the future Emperor Alexander I preferred to live at the Great Tsarskoye Selo Palace. Since the late 1810s, the Alexander Palace was owned by Alexander’s brother, Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich (later Emperor Nicholas I), whose family stayed here during summer months and whose grandchildren and great grandchildren resided here later.
Laid down by Catherine II, the principles of upbringing, education and recreation for imperial children remained unchanged until the early 1900s. Catherine relied on ideas of 18th-century Enlightenment philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The children would have meals only at particular hours and they would never be muffled up, their rooms always being full of light and fresh air. Several generations of the imperial children did garden work and learned different handicrafts. Thoroughly selected tutors and teachers brought them up as the future emperors, military statesmen and fiancées for European royal and ducal houses. They had to learn court etiquette from early childhood, for their whole life, from the first day to the last, followed the strict traditions of the imperial court. Everything was of state importance: births, christenings, birthdays, name days, church and state events in which children took part. From their earliest years, the grand dukes were trained for military service.
Starting from Paul I, Russian imperial families had many children. Paul and Maria Fiodorovna had ten, Nicholas I and Alexandra Fiodorovna seven, Alexander II and Maria Alexandrovna eight, Alexander III and Maria Fiodorovna six, while the family of the last Russian tsar had five children. The only exception were Alexander I and Elizabeth Fiodorovna, who lost their two daughters at infancy.
According to their contemporaries, the families of Russian emperors were large and close, with a simple and open-hearted atmosphere where love and care for children and respect for parents ruled. Away from state affairs, cheerful and good-natured next to their wives and kids, the emperors would gladly join their children in study and play.
The exhibition In the Children’s Rooms of the Alexander Palace tells about the life of imperial children at the Tsarskoye Selo summer residence in the 19th to the early 20th centuries.
On display are the objects from the collections of Tsarskoye Selo, the Art and Pedagogical Toy Museum (Sergiyev Posad), the Ostankino Museum-Estate and the Obraztsov Puppet Theater Museum (Moscow).
The exhibition is set out in the rooms where the children of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra lived in 1895–1917.