Federal State Institution of Culture

Russian State
Art Library

"Art to help the arts"
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The Collection of Archives

The Russian State Art Library (RSAL) (formerly the State Central Theatre Library) will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary. Over the years, it has developed a certain profile for acquisitions. As the library’s collection was formed from the library at the Academic Maly Theatre, its path was established: culture and art, and narrower directions within them. Libraries, collections, and archival documents were acquired as part of the personal collections of individuals in culture and the arts. The team of employees formed in the library’s early days was key to providing high-quality, skilled services to readers. The employees were experts and professionals who were passionate about their work, and were headed by the first director of the library, Professor Alexander Fomin. The collection increased from personal libraries and collections, both those of employees and a close circle of persons. Then came a change of generations and new employees joined the team, but the traditions laid down almost a century ago have been retained to this day.

Below is an overview of the archival collections that can be utilised for research purposes.

The Collection of Alexander Alexandrovich Fomin (1868-1929)—one of the founders and the first director of the State Theatre Library at the Maly Theatre, later the State Central Theatre Library, (now RSAL), includes a small documentary segment consisting of biographical documents and correspondence from famous performers, artists, and musicians to Alexander Fomin. There are also some documents that belonged to Sofya Fomin, his wife, colleague, and library employee. Visual arts materials from the collection of the Fomin family are kept in the Centre of Visual Information within RSAL.

The Collection of Sergei Trofimovich Obukhov (1855-1928), the Russian opera singer (baritone), soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre (1899-1902), and manager of the Moscow office of the Imperial Theatres (1910-1917), includes the official correspondence of Sergei Obukhov, letters from a variety of persons, programmes of commemorative evenings, and invitations.

The Collection of Joseph Mikhailovich Lapitsky (1876-1944), the Russian opera director, musicologist, public figure, opera theorist, and author of articles on opera house reform, contains documents of a biographical nature, articles on theatrical topics, materials of the Theatre of Musical Drama (which he organised), and his correspondence. Also presented are the materials of his wife, opera singer Maria Veselovskaya, as well as their son. Photos and graphic materials from Joseph Lapitsky’s collection are archived in the Centre of Visual Information within RSAL.

The Collection of Mikhail Borisovich Zagorsky (1885-1951)—Soviet playwright, theatre critic and historian—contains materials from his creative legacy—articles, reviews about modern theatre (Soviet period), works on the history of theatre and theatre criticism, materials for his works about Pushkin and Shakespeare, plus letters and documents of a biographical nature. Visual materials and theatre programmes from the collection of Mikhail Zagorsky are in the Centre of Visual Information within RSAL.

The Collection of Ksenia (Xenia) Konstantinovna Petipa-Chizhova (1905-1975), Bolshoi Theatre ballet dancer—granddaughter of Marius Ivanovich Petipa, the founder of the dynasty who glorified Russian theatrical arts—includes the documents of several representatives of this family who have carefully preserved these archival materials. The Petipa family’s visual arts materials are archived in the Centre of Visual Information within RSAL.

The Collection of Nikolai Aleksandrovich Krotov (1893-1960), a drama and operetta performer, preserves materials related to the history of the creation of the MN Ermolova Studio. Some biographical documents, letters, posters, performance programmes, sketches of scenery for some plays, and visual arts materials of the studio are presented.

The Collection of Arseny Alexandrovich Ilyin (1911-1970)—a historian of musical theatre, theatre expert, bibliographer, employee of our library—mainly includes documents of a working nature. The surviving materials were used to write articles in the Small and Great Soviet Encyclopaedias, the Encyclopaedic Directory of Operas, and the Concise Encyclopaedic Music Dictionary. Arseny Ilyin was engaged in methodological work for the Moscow State Academy of Choreography at the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre, the corresponding materials were preserved in his collection, as well as the programmes of performances, theatre booklets, etc.

The following collections are archived: O.L. Leonidova and N.D. Volkova.

Research Services

Services for researchers working with documents in the Archive Collection are carried out in the reading hall. An employee of the department will issue the researcher an inventory of all archive collections that are ready for use so that he can familiarise himself with the list of cases (storage units) and be able to formulate a request.

Researchers who wish to work with our department’s documents must submit a letter from the organisation that sent them to the head of the Russian State Art Library (RSAL).

The department provides researchers with paid services in accordance with the price list.

Materials and documents of the Archive Collection of RSAL are regularly displayed in exhibitions held within the walls of the library. Also, some documents have been used for the defense of a thesis in the obtaining of a scientific degree.