Federal State Institution of Culture

Russian State
Art Library

"Art to help the arts"

From the RSAL history

The library’s life is closely connected with the famous Maly Theatre, in the depths of which it was born. The library was created at the initiative of the eminent theatre teacher, dean of the Maly Theatre Drama School, great theatrical expert, Professor A.A. Fomin, who became the first and to his last days unchallenged director of the library. He managed to involve in the work the well-known scientists: Professors A.A. Grushka, K.V. Sivkov, V.K. Moller, academician D.N. Kardovsky, theatre and a museum worker and director N.A. Popov. The Head of the Maly Theatre Directorate A.I. Sumbatov-Yuzhin and the Commissar of Education A.V. Lunacharsky actively supported the work of the library. The opening ceremony took place in the building of the Maly Theatre Higher Theatrical Studio on May 24, 1922 with participation of outstanding theatre masters, who left their autographs in the memorable Brocade Book. A bright destiny was promised to the library.

From 1925 the library changed its function and began to serve Moscow theatres. The major masters of the stage used its services: M.I. Babanova, L.V. Baratov, E.N. Gogoleva, N.M. Dudinskaia, Yu.A. Zavadsky, D.V. Zerkalova, K.A. Zubov, I.S. Kozlovsky, L.M. Koreneva, M.F. Lepin, V.O. Massalitinova, I.M. Moskvin, N.P. Okhlopkov, V.N. Paschennaia, A.D. Popov, P.M. Sadovsky, I.Ya. Sudakov, A.K. Tarasova, E.D. Turchaninova, N.P. Khmelev, M.M. Shtraukh, outstanding scene designers: M.P. Bobyshev, P.V. Williams, E.E. Lansere, I.I. Nivinsky, Yu.I. Pimenov, I.M. Rabinovich, A.G. Tyshler, F.F. Fedorovsky, V.A. Shestakov, V.A. Shchuko, K.F. Yuon and many others.

<>Both the classic and contemporary pages of the national culture are connected with the library.

The library didn’t close down during the Great Patriotic War. Although the premises were almost not heated, an intensive work continued. The library served front drama crews, teams of agitators and performers, correspondents of Sovinformburo, soldiers.

After the war, in 1948, the library moved into a house, which is an architectural monument by itself. The building was designed by Mikhail Kazakov in 1793, and since then preserves its appearance without any alterations. The library carefully maintains the monument, the Blue Hall was restored. The theatrical history of the building has more than two hundred years. An owner of the mansion at the time of M.F. Kazakov was Deputy Governor of Moscow N.E. Miasoedov. It is known that there was a serf theatre at Miasoedov’s house. In 1829 the building onBolshaia Dmitrovka Streetwas bought by the State Treasury for a drama school. Later the building was occupied by the Directorate of Imperial Theatres.

The Library collection consists of more than 1 million 670 thousand units: books, magazines, newspapers, newspaper clippings, playbills, iconographic materials (etching, sketches, watercolours, reproductions, postcards, photographs, clippings, etc.). They reflect the special nature of the library and make a unique base not only for the fine arts researchers, but also for wide humanitarian activities. The collections are used especially active in creative professions.

The library became a special scientific and artistic laboratory. Its help in work of art groups, crews of films, theatres, TV programs, and art projects is invaluable.

In the course of time, forms of the theatre library activities were enriched, capabilities of readers’ services expanded. The library turned into an information, research and reference arts centre.

In his day, K.S. Stanislavsky described the library as a unique institution pointing out that it was a “precious source of knowledge”.