A new archaeological exhibition created by the Underwater Research Center of the Russian Geographical Society has been opened. Our friends and colleagues attended the opening ceremony, including the Poltava historic shipyard, Konstantin Zaytsev, Vice President of the Russian Association of Polar Explorers, members of the Russian Navy, and, of course, museum workers. The exhibition was opened by Elena Kalnitskaya, General Director of the Peterhof State Museum-Reserve and Sergey Fokin, Executive Director of URC RGS.
The exhibition includes previously showcased artifacts recovered from the Archangel Raphael, a Lübeck cargo vessel that sank in 1724, as well as brand-new exhibits: several fascinating items have been recovered, preserved and restored since the first exhibition took place, including a striped wool blanket lined with canvas, and the crown jewel of the Three Centuries Underwater, a 300-year old Bible (New Testament, The Letter to the Corinthians). The rescue and painstaking restoration of the Bible deserves a separate story, which you can learn at the exhibition over at the Silver Storerooms. Sergey Fokin promised that this story is not the last one told by the Archangel Raphael, “Only about a third of the site has been excavated. We still have a few seasons of hard work ahead of us. Our goal is to carefully excavate the ground layer covering the ship with no damage to the artifacts. It looks like we’ve just made our way to the most exciting parts of the ship in terms of potential artifacts. We are not talking about any treasures, what we are interested in is household items, which will help us understand how people lived in that era”. Elena Kalnitskaya also spoke to the press about the not-so-valuable artifacts that are truly precious for us, “When we see these items, even if they are old, in poor condition, or spent the last three centuries underwater, they still give us answers to a lot of questions. And the more experiments are conducted, the more household items we are able to find, the easier it will be for us to create museums.”
For the first time, the Archangel Raphael artifacts will be showcased alongside the famous wool caftan and pants, shared by the State Hermitage Museum. This will be the longest exhibition the outfit has ever been a part of due to the fact that textiles are very fragile, and permanent exposure could lead to the deterioration of the outfit. Thus, the Hermitage only showcases such items as part of temporary exhibitions.
If the secrets of the lost ships call out to you, the fate of the artifacts is something you care about and like us you are fascinated by the palace and park ensembles, make sure to visit the Three Centuries Underwater exhibition.
The Silver Storerooms exhibition halls in the South Courtyard of the Grand Menshikov Palace are open July, 20 through October 21, 2018, to all comers. Free tickets are available at all of the Oranienbaum Park ticket offices, as well as at the ticket offices of the Grand Menshikov Palace Museum, 10:30-18:00 (every day).
Closed: Tuesdays and the last Wednesday of each month.