RESTORATION WORKS IN THE MOSCOW KREMLIN IN THE 21TH CENTURY

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The research and conservation for posterity of unique historical landmarks located in the Moscow Kremlin is one of the most important areas of activities of the Moscow Kremlin Museums. A long-term program was developed in 2005. It is intended both for a scientific restoration of unique architectural monuments of the Moscow Kremlin and conducting field observations with the usage of the newest scientific methods, as well as for the museumification and opening the rooms to the public and the fragments of the monuments that were traditionally inaccessible.

Restoration of the Annunciation Cathedral should be mentioned among the recent restoration projects realized by the Kremlin Museums. During the centuries, the Annunciation Cathedral had been the domestic church of Moscow grand princes and Russian tsars. The most interesting discoveries were made in the basement of the cathedral. The lower parts of the walls and foundations of the cathedral of 1416 were discovered here. More than a hundred white-stone blocks with carved ornament or fragments of mural painting were found under the northern porch. White stones with carvings once decorated the facades and interiors of the cathedral. Fragments of the monumental mural painting of the interior date back to the beginning of the 15th century and are attributed by experts as the painting of Andrey Rublev’s circle. The basement of the Annunciation Cathedral, which was used for storing the treasury of grand princes in ancient times, now houses a permanent exposition ‘Treasures and Antiquities of the Moscow Kremlin’. It comprises artefacts both found during archeological excavations on the territory of the Kremlin, as well as those related to the history of former treasuries of Russian sovereigns, noble people and monasteries.

The Patriarch's Palace with the Church of the Twelve Apostles is the most interesting example of the civil architecture of the mid-17th century in the Kremlin. Built by the order of Patriarch Nikon, the palace was rebuilt many times.

The restoration of the One-Pillar Chamber based on the ground floor of the palace began in 2003. In the course of complex research, two wall staircases leading to the second floor of the palace were revealed. Lost metallic bonds in the interior of the chamber were restored, thus strengthening walls and vaults. After the restoration was complete, the chamber was open as an exhibition hall of the Kremlin Museums.

Ivan the Great Bell-Tower was opened to the public in 2005. Unique white-stone spiral staircases, cornices and white-stone rosettes remained in the interior of the Bell-Tower. Now the Bell-Tower houses the exposition dedicated to the centuries-old history of the Moscow Kremlin architectural complex development. The visitors have an opportunity to see original architectural fragments of the destroyed ancient buildings, early schemes and pictures of the Kremlin.

The Archangel Cathedral – Russia’s first necropolis of grand princes and tsars – is one of the most original monuments in the Cathedral Square. The white-stone portals executed in the Renaissance style are certainly the most interesting architectural elements of the Archangel Cathedral. Unfortunately, they were heavily destroyed due to high salinization and bad ecology in general. Current works on the restoration of unique portals of the cathedral has begun in 2005. White-stone details were desalted and the lost carving was reconstructed. Genuine fragments of the central portal were replaced by replicas. Restored columns and pilasters of the portals were transferred to the Museum’s fund of architectural items.

The restoration works in the South annex of the Archangel Cathedral has begun in 2008. Inter-floor constructions, metal staircases and walls built in the soviet period were dismantled.  Now we can see arched roofs, copper roofs and facades with window openings reconstructed in their former appearance. Brickwork of the 15th century is demonstrated with fragments of rebuilding of the 17th-18th centuries at the north and east walls of the South annex. An exhibition dedicated to the history of the Ascension Convent was created in the South annex in 2014 as a result of the long-term restoration and research work of the Moscow Kremlin Museums. The side-chapel of the Archangel Cathedral dedicated to Soldier-Martyr St Varus was reconstructed in 2007. The installation of the exposition presenting icons from the museum collection previously kept in the side-chapel was finished in May 2008. The shrine with the relics and the white-stone sarcophagus of Grand Princess Eudocia, the founder of the Ascension Monastery, are also preserved here.

The Assumption Cathedral erected by Aristotele Fioravanti is a unique monument of the Old Russian architecture. The façades and the roof of the cathedral were restored in recent years. At the same time, restoration was conducted on the north and south portals, with the replacement of the destroyed white-stone blocks of the socle. New door frames executed in compliance with the existing samples were installed. Old metal doors were also restored. Scientific restoration and field observations of the cathedral are priority vectors concerning architectural restoration in the Museum. The restoration of vaults and monumental interior wall painting began in 2013. The comprehensive restoration of wall painting on the southern façade above the cathedral’s apses took place in 2015. Significant research concerning the uncovering of unknown fragments of frescoes painted at the turn of the 15th-16th centuries was made at the Eulogy of the Virgin side-chapel in 2016. In the same year, the staff members of the Museum worked out a programme on a comprehensive restoration of the Assumption Cathedral, which allows carrying out both restoration works and detailed research of its construction history.

In addition to the restoration, the Museum keeps working on the museumification and popularization of its exhibits and collections. A new area for displaying a part of the artillery collection, which was traditionally placed by the walls of the Arsenal building, was fixed up in the Kremlin to commemorate the bicentenary of the Patriotic War of 1812. Fourteen pieces of Russian gun barrels belonging to the 17th – early 18th centuries were located on the pedestal beside the Tsar Cannon. There are reasons to believe that all these artillery pieces were used in the Russian Army campaigns.

The Moscow Kremlin Museums participate in the programme ‘Barrier-Free Environment’. The pedestals bearing the models of the main architectural monuments of the Cathedral Square, designed especially for the visually impaired visitors, will be established in the Kremlin in 2017.