The Sheremetev Palace in St. Petersburg is considered one of the main attractions, because this building is the same age as the Northern capital. For three centuries, legendary writers, artists and musicians have visited its halls, the history of Russia was made here, and human dramas were played out. Now the noble nest is included in the golden fund of St. Petersburg museums, and without visiting its luxurious halls it is impossible to imagine a single serious excursion in a historical vein.
Official name: Sheremetev Palace - The Museum of Music is not as popular in guidebooks and St. Petersburg guides as the middle name is Fountain House. It appeared thanks to the address - 34 Fontanka River Embankment. It is not entirely fair to attribute all the expositions only to the music museum, because the halls of the palace are not only a collection of tools, but also a real treasury of noble life and objects of art.
Opening hours of the Sheremetev Palace
The following persons have the right to free admission to all exhibition halls:
- Large families with a residence permit in St. Petersburg;
- Heroes of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation, gentlemen of the Order of Glory;
- Children under 7 years old;
- Organized groups from orphanages and boarding schools;
- Staff members of state Russian museums.
Open Day for schoolchildren under 18 and full-time students - the third Thursday of each month (upon presentation of a ticket or certificate from the school).
It all started in 1712, when Peter I granted his associate Boris Sheremetev a plot to build a house on the banks of the Fontanka. According to the original idea, it was a one-story summer estate, the construction of which was completed 30 years later, and in the 1750s the second floor of the palace was added. This is how one of the brightest examples of the richly decorated architectural style appeared, which would later be called the Russian or Peter's Baroque.
Already in the 18th century, the Fountain House became the center of the cultural life of St. Petersburg. The grandson of the founder of the estate, Nikolai Petrovich Sheremetev, organized a serf theater and an orchestra here, personally selecting talented peasants for a singing choir and even opera productions. The building itself was repeatedly rebuilt - outbuildings for servants, garden pavilions appeared, and the best masters - Quarenghi and Voronikhin - complemented the interiors and exterior decoration.
A century later, the palace continued to be the patrimony of the Sheremetevs, and its glory resounded throughout Europe. Foreign ambassadors used to come here, Liszt, Glinka, Berlioz and other prominent composers gave concerts in the drawing rooms. This continued until 1871, when the heirs of the count's family divided the plot, and apartment buildings began to be built on the side of Liteiny Prospect, and almost a dozen buildings inside the garden, including a greenhouse and garden wings, were decided to be demolished.
Difficult times continued after the October Revolution. The last owner of the palace, Sergei Sheremetev, voluntarily renounced the estate in favor of nationalization, and the entire territory of the estate passed under the authority of the Bolsheviks. Considering the enormous contribution of his family to the history of the city, the new government opened the Museum of Noble Life here, which existed until 1931, until it was closed down ideologically.
After the war, a children's and youth's House of Entertaining Science was opened in the halls, and a few years later the Institute of the Arctic and Antarctic moved here, which occupied most of the premises for almost 40 years. During this time, the pre-revolutionary interiors were almost completely lost, and only in 1989 did the authorities think about the restoration of the historical heritage. A year later, the palace became a branch of the State Museum of Theater and Music.
Today the Fountain House is not just a museum collection, but a full-fledged cultural and educational center. For children and students, thematic excursions dedicated to the history of St. Petersburg are held here, as well as seasonal exhibitions and concerts. Among interesting events, fairs of musical instruments are highly valued, where leading masters of Russia and the world present their creations, which can always be purchased.
Expositions of the Fountain House
To date, the expositions of the Sheremetev Palace are divided into two large parts - "Open funds" with a rich collection of musical instruments and "Anfilade of ceremonial halls".
White living room
The unique hall appeared in the estate in the middle of the 19th century, and even then it impressed the guests with its decoration. Wood from England, Switzerland and Jamaica was specially ordered for the parquet, and the walls were decorated with gilded elements combined with snow-white trim. The pretentious style of the premises was called the “second baroque”, the interiors were partially preserved after the revolution.
The restoration of the living room was officially completed only in 2015. The sculptures of the Bacchantes from the Ostankino estate, as well as completely restored furniture sets, which found the first owners of the hall, helped to bring back the spirit of the times. The room is spacious and well-lit, which allows you to see the jewelry in detail.
Etruscan living room
Despite the name, the interiors of the terracotta-black hall have nothing in common with the Etruscan tribes, but rather in the style of late Pompeian Antiquity. The technique of painting the walls has no analogues here - the patterns were applied without a primer to perfectly polished wood, which at times complicated the task for the restorers.
It was this room in the 1830s that was the main musical living room, where legendary pianists, composers and conductors performed in a chamber setting. In memory of the glorious years, there are two treasures - Glinka's memorial grand piano and Dietz's keyboard harp. The antique spirit is added by statues of two gladiators frozen in fighting stances.
Another "colored" hall with an unusual history. Once the living room was connected to the adjacent room for billiards, but in the 19th century it was rebuilt for the needs of Dmitry Sheremetev's wife. The French damask of a bright raspberry hue is to be thanked for the name, and stucco molding with paintings in the style of “gallant scenes” and a miniature pastoral flaunts on the ceiling.
Today you can see a marble fireplace and a crystal chandelier here, but the rest of the exhibits have a much more interesting fate. For example, malachite utensils in one of the showcases were transferred to museum storage from the famous Leningrad collector Valentina Golod. The upholstery was ordered in Moscow - most of the original damask died during the blockade.
In 2019, the musical part of the exposition was replenished with a huge interactive showcase, which in a non-trivial form tells visitors about the history of orchestral instruments. All of them can be listened to thanks to tablets with headphones, where cult classics sound with interesting commentary.
Interactivity is added by boxes with additional installations that can be pulled out, as well as separate audio guides for children, where they will explain not the simplest things from the world of music in a playful way with animated fabulous assistants. A collection of conductor's baton is exhibited separately - from Wagner and Berlioz to contemporaries.
Cross "Monte Generoso"
The section of private collections is decorated with a gift from the Swiss artist and jeweler Willie Inauen - a large-scale composition "The Mountain of Generosity", which is a silver cross with twelve miniatures. The art project has been created for 40 years from precious metals and stones found during travels across several continents.
On the opposite wall hangs a photo with perhaps the most famous work of the jeweler - "The Learned Idiot" - an allegorical symbol of how excess knowledge gets in the way of success. The exposition is open on a limited schedule only 4 days a week - on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00.
The Sheremetev Palace has always been popular with artists, and they depicted not only its appearance. It was here that the legendary painter Kiprensky worked on a portrait of Pushkin, having previously painted many of his contemporaries from life. The original canvases known to everyone from school can be seen in the halls of the Tretyakov Gallery.
One of the wings of the Fountain House on the side of Liteiny Prospect is occupied by the Anna Akhmatova Museum. The poet's apartment is located on the third floor, there are several exhibition halls with personal belongings, documents and rare archive photos. It also houses the only permanent exhibition in St. Petersburg dedicated to Joseph Brodsky.
At the entrance to the palace garden, you can see a modest obelisk with a female portrait - this is a monument to the opera singer Praskovya Zhemchugova, a former peasant woman in the serf theater. Her beauty and talent won the heart of Nikolai Sheremetev, who married the artist, giving freedom to her entire family. The marriage lasted less than two years - Praskovya died in childbirth.
There are things in the museum's collection with an incredible history, for example, the famous "Siege Cello" by the Leningrad master Alexei Ushakov. He worked on it for almost 15 years, as stated in a short but heart-moving pencil note found inside the soundboard: “The instrument was started in 1941. Completed in 1956. War interfered. Blockade".
The watches of the 18-19th century are considered to be exclusive exhibits - “Making Musicians”, “Cupid on a Dolphin” and “Reading Girl”. The restorers succeeded in restoring the mechanism, and the dials now show the exact time, but, unfortunately, some watches have lost the elements responsible for playing melodies forever.
In the showcases of the "Open Funds" one can find unique collections of copper cornet and altorns of Alexander III - until his coronation, the autocrat had been playing in the court orchestra for many years. In addition to them, thousands of instruments belonging to famous artists and statesmen are regularly exhibited.
How to get to the Sheremetev Palace in St. Petersburg
The attraction is located in the historical center, so there are no problems with delivery, both within the ordered tour and independently. The nearest metro stations are "Gostiny Dvor" and "Mayakovskaya" - in the first case you need to cross the Anichkov bridge and turn to the Fontanka embankment to the left, in the second - turn right before reaching the bridge.
You can get much faster from the Liteiny Prospekt bus / trolleybus stop. It is located in front of the Anichkov Bridge. Landmark - the Beloselsky-Belozersky palace - it should remain on the left, then - similarly, turn right onto the embankment, and it will remain to walk no more than 100 meters.
There are two key points to remember about taxis. Firstly, it is better to immediately use the Uber, Maxim or Yandex service - it will be much cheaper than with street drivers, and if you order a car in advance, you will have a chance to get a discount. Secondly, from the Fontanka side, there is a free parking area only at the intersection with Belinsky Street, so you still have to walk - taxi drivers will not risk it.
For those who are used to driving on their own, it is better to navigate by the coordinates of the navigator - 59.936620, 30.345277, but even here the situation with parking will not be better. There is a small paid section further than the Fountain House towards Nevsky Prospekt, but it is better to leave the transport from the Liteiny side - there is free parking in the courtyard of house No. 55.