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“The Illusion of Reality. The World of Costume Design for the Peter the Great Era” Exhibition Opened on 18 March

The project was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Department of Stage Costume Design of the Moscow Art Theatre School (MXAT) and prepared by the instructors and students of the department and RSAL employees, with the participation of the State Central Film Museum.

The exhibition “The Illusion of Reality. The World of Stage Costume Design for the Peter the Great Era” showed the skill of a rare profession, that of the theatre artist-technician. Secrets of the art of turning the simplest materials into precious fabrics, furs, and jewelry were demonstrated by students of the stage costume department of MXAT.

The project was based on costume sketches by the People’s Artist of the Russian Federation Eleonora Maklakova made in 1980 for the film The Youth of Peter the Great by Sergey Gerasimov. Today, under the guidance of Professor Maklakova, students using the latest technology recreated the “flavour of antiquity” of the 17th century. 

The centre of the exposition was the masterfully executed mock-ups of the costumes of the historical characters in the film: Peter the Great, his mother Natalya Naryshkina, sister Sofia, and Prince Vasily Golitsyn. The exhibition featured a large number of art objects: imitations of precious fabrics, furs, crowns, jewellery, all demonstrating the high level of artistry of the Russian masters.

The exhibition was enriched by the information base represented by the works of historians and archeologists who studied the life, culture, and costumes of the 17th century. All these sources from RSAL’s collections are a necessary starting point in the work of any artist engaged in the creation of a historical costume.

The presentation was opened by the Rector of the MXAT School-Studio, the Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation Igor Zolotovitsky, who recognised the project as the pinnacle of cooperation between MXAT and RSAL, a collaboration that has become an excellent cultural tradition. “A systematic approach to the learning process for students within the walls of the library, where they have access to true rarities from its unique collections and consultations with RSAL’s leading specialists,” said Library Director Ada Kolganova, “allows such unusual exhibition projects to come about.”

The opening of the exhibition brought together instructors and students of the MXAT School-Studio, employees of the State Central Film Museum, and library readers. At the opening, they all praised the exposition, which showed not only the result of the students' hard work, but also the complex process of creating mock-ups of historical costumes, imitations of precious fabrics, furs, and jewellery.