"A colossal building was erected in the very center of our northern capital, at the intersection of Sadovaya street and one of the world's most beautiful avenues — Nevsky Prospekt. It is an elegant and majestic structure, like most of the buildings in St. Petersburg...."
Imperial Public Library Guidebook. St. Petersburg, 1852
The Library was intended to be a library-museum, so its rooms were spacious. They housed not only bookcases but also many paintings and sculptures. The images by the artist Pyotr Borel show what the place actually looked like at that time. The artist was specially invited to draw the Library after the renovation of 1851. His pictures were used to illustrate the Imperial Public Library Guidebook published in 1852. The same guide provides detailed descriptions of the rooms and the collections held in them.
Since then, the interiors of the Library have changed a lot. Some of the rooms cannot be recognized. Where possible, historical pictures of the rooms were found. We compare them with present-day photos, making “then and now” picture pairs. It is for you to judge how well they capture the spirit of the times.
Rare Books Exhibition Hall
Manuscripts Exhibition Hall
Manuscripts Reading Room
Manuscripts Round Room
Manuscript Storage Room
Universal Reading Room
Russian Books Oval Room
Russian Books Rooms