Manuscripts Exhibition Hall

Insight into the Past

"...This hall is a very long rectangular space without pillars, with a box vault, well lit on its two sides. Tall ash bookcases are arranged in a circle along the walls. A bit further, a long row of bookcases are placed tightly one after the other on both sides, in the form of wings. It's like an ordinary bookstore, not especially attractive..."  

"On the right and left side of the entrance doors are portraits of the poet Derzhavin and the writer and bookseller Novikov. Under the portrait of the poet are 8 his verses, now barely noticeable... Above the doors, a plaster picture of Peter the Great moving St. Alexander Nevsky's relics to St. Petersburg, can be seen. It is a reduced replica of a bas-relief by Ivan Vitali, covering the doors of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Above the entrance hall's doors are the other two reliefs. One depicts the baptism of the Russian people under the Grand Duke Vladimir,  the other portrays St. Isaac, blessing the Emperor Valent and his wife ... "


Strolling through the Imperial Public Library. 1872


Fascinating Story

There is a mystical story connected with this room. The architect Vasily Sobolshchikov was very concerned about the risk of fire in the Library. In his Memoirs, we can read,

Manuscripts Exhibition Hall

"I once dreamed that a fire occurred in the dark corner of the hall. The dream was not terrible, but I clearly remembered all the people who were at the fire and all the words they spoke. ... A few days later, I saw the same fire in my dream, and in the same corner of the hall. There was so much commotion and panic that I even woke up with anxiety ... Another week passed, and I had the same sinister nightmare, but already of horrific proportions: I saw fire fighters, the sovereign. With a cry, I jumped out of bed and, arriving at the library, went straight to the hall to examine its dark corner. The wall above the bookcase was covered in a dark layer of soot... I took apart the bookcase and ... found a gap through which fire penetrated directly under the bookcase from the chimney. The lower side of the lower shelf had already turned into coal. Any small hole might have fanned the flames. We did everything that we could to completely eliminate the danger."

As a result, 24 Dutch ovens, located between bookcases, were destroyed and replaced by more mordern equipment. Eight pneumatic ovens were arranged in the basement. They equally distributed warmth throughout the building. An innovation was also made regarding fuel. The firewood was replaced with peat, according to the new technology invented by Zubchaninov. The heating system was advanced for its time. The Imperial Public Library was the first institution to employ this system.


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Online Exhibitions
Online Exhibitions
Video films
Video films on Manuscript Materials
 Thomas à Kempis.
Medieval European Literature
The Grand French Chronicles
Grand French Chronicles in the Digital Library
Highlights from the Manuscript Collections
Highlights from the Manuscript Collections