RUSSIA!

Review of the exhibit at the Guggenheim Hermitage, Las Vegas

by Helen Azar

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Those who plan to visit Las Vegas before mid-January 2006, can still catch this interesting (albeit small) exhibit at the Venetian's Guggenheim Hermitage. Items in this exhibit are seldom seen outside of The Armoury Museum of Moscow's Kremlin (I was not able to get entrance tickets to this museum when I was in Moscow in 2004 - they have to be ordered in advance due to the museum's popularity), so this was a rare treat indeed...

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I was able to catch the last guided tour of the day of this four room exhibit. The docent who lead the tour was quite good (although she did make a major error stating that the "Romanov dynasty ended in 1914 - at the start of World War I").

The exhibit tells a story related to four major aspects of the 16th and 17th century Russian royal life: the Tsar's family, military weapons, orthodox faith and royal celebrations.

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Entrance to the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

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In the first hall of the exhibit, the visitor is greeted by a large portrait of Tsar Mikhail, the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty. Here, the museum guide tells a brief story of the dynasty's origins and points out some of the items that belonged to Mikhail Romanov, including a heavy gold chain of the grand axium and his coronation robe and staff (called "nalatnik"). Also included here is a child's armour allegedly worn by young Peter the Great.

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In the next hall are weaponry and armours, axes, daggers, sabres, guns, etc. Here the guide tells some of the war stories and describes what military processions in the 16th and 17th century Russia were like.

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The third hall is entirely dedicated to Russian orthodox faith. The center piece here is a 16th century iconostasis (only two tiers), which allegedly has never been taken out of Russia before.

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Here the visitor gets another rare treat: a display of the original 17th century "pall of the tomb" belonging to Tsarevich Dmitri - the last of the Ruriks. The Tsarevich was assasinated for political reasons at the age of nine and was subsequently canonized. A stylized image of Dmitri is embroidered on the pall and on the spot where the assassin's dagger fatally pierced his throat is a row of precious pearls. Around the edges of the pall are embroidered letters spelling out prayers in old Russian.

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The fourth and last hall presents items related to royal celebrations and feasting. Here one can view silver and gold dishes, goblets, candlesticks and gravy boats used at the celebratory tables of the tsars. Most items are gifts to the tsar to honor one military victory or another.

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I ended up spending approximately two hours at this exhibit - including the guided tour, and it was time well spent, so I am glad I was able to catch it before it ended. The Las Vegas RUSSIA! exhibit is returning home to Moscow on January 15th 2006, along with it's sister exhibit in New York.

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Contact and other information for Guggenheim Hermitage in Las Vegas:

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