INSIGHT INTO THE PAST
"... In this room, six pairs of columns support a plafond which opens in the middle in the form of a rectangle. Bookcases are placed, like in the Oxford library, back to back, crosswise, to make up four sections. Between sections there is a wide passage, decorated with statues of muses and busts of glorious men of antiquity..."
Imperial Public Library Guidebook. 1860
The Oval Room was adjoined by two large two-story rooms, divided into three parts by Ionic colonnades that supported wooden galleries. Statues and busts stood on pedestals near the columns. All galleries were used as storage and reading areas. At the same time, they served as passages to the corner rooms on the second floor. The galleries were reached by corner stairs, placed between the central room and the wall of the main facade.
Unfortunately, the original interiors of the first floor of the Sokolov Building have not come down to us. The look of the rooms was completely transformed in the 1860s then wooden ceilings were replaced with brick vaults. Pylons, decorated with mosaics, were installed instead of the graceful Ionic columns in the rooms on the first floor. Cast-iron balustrades appeared instead of wooden ones. The valuable previous decoration was largely dismantled. The reason for these renovations was the vital need to protect the Library from fire and add more space for bookshelves.
Today the rooms houses the Russian Books Collection.
Learn more about Russian Books Collections.
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The video is devoted to four of the most valuable books from our collections: