Museum of Emperor Nicholas II in Moscow

PHOTO: Museum of Emperor Nicholas II in Moscow

In the spring of 2008, art historian Alexander Vasilyevich Renzhin donated his collection dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II, as a gift to the Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery. It was during the 1990s that Renzhin began to collect bit by bit everything related to Emperor Nicholas II and his family. During that time, he managed to amass a collection of more than 3,000 items: postcards and photographs, books and portraits, personal belongings and household items – which reflect on the private lives of the Imperial Family and their tragic deaths in July 1918.

In 1913, Russia solemnly celebrated the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov. Renjin’s collection features many unique items created for the anniversary. Among them is a carved decorative panel with portraits of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, and their son Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich and the date 1613-1913. The scene of the election of Mikhail Feodorovich Romanov in 1613 is depicted on a woven woolen carpet made by the Zavidov carpet factory. Candy boxes produced for the anniversary by the Einem confectionery factory with portraits of the Romanovs have been preserved.

Of particular interest are coronation memorabilia: earthenware glasses and plates decorated with the coats of arms and monograms H II [Nicholas II] and AF [Alexandra Feodorovna], miraculously preserved fine crystal glasses with engravings and paintings, cups, plates and saucers from the service with the new coat of arms introduced in 1856.

VIDEO: click on the image above to watch a 3-minute video tour of the museum at the Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery, before it was closed in February 2021, and moved to its current location in central Moscow

This service, made at the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg in 1882 specifically for the coronation of Emperor Alexander III, consisted of 19 thousand pieces. For the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II, the service was repeated, consisting of 47 thousand pieces. According to tradition, the Imperial table for the coronation dinner was served with a gold service, bearing the coat of arms. The service was complemented by snow-white damask linen napkins with the personal coat of arms and monogram of Nicholas II. The most important part of Renzhin’s collection are icons of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and St. Alexandra – the heavenly patrons of the Emperor and Empress – painted for the coronation in1896.

In 1896, some 300 icons were ordered from the famous workshop of Osip Chirikov, of which Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna presented to the most honoured guests at the coronation celebrations in the Kremlin.

Of particular value are historic documents bearing autographs collected by Renzhin: the petition of the Empress Maria Feodorovna addressed to the Minister of War V.A. Sukhomlinov dated March 10, 1914 on the transfer of the building of the Main Directorate of Military Educational Institutions to the Museum of Old Petersburg; a note from Empress Alexandra Feodorovna to Adjutant General F.V. Dubasov and a prayer memorandum signed by her to a soldier walking on the battlefield. Numerous photographs, postcards, prints, books testify to life in peacetime and during the First World War.

In February 2021, the Museum of Emperor Nicholas II was forced to close its doors, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and almost 9 million rubles (more than $13,000 USD) in arrears of rent.

A Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev, and founder of the Tsargrad TV channel, came to the rescue by providing Renzhin’s rare collection with a new venue in which to display his collection. The Museum of Emperor Nicholas II re-opened in the Museum of Russian Art, the former manor house of Nikolai Eremeevich Struisky (1749-1796) – situated in Moscow’s historical district – on 10th February 2021.

The Museum of Emperor Nicholas II is open daily to visitors.

© Paul Gilbert. 1 March 2023