The State Museum of the History of St Petersburg
Peter and Paul Fortress, Poterna Exhibition Hall
Address: Gosudarev Bastion at the Peter & Paul Fortress
Tel.: (812) 230-64-31
Museum hours: daily 10:30 – 20:00
The Peter and Paul Fortress is architectural and historical centre of Saint-Petersburg. The fortress was designed to protect the Neva lands that were won from the Swedes during the Northern War (1700 – 21). During two centuries main St. Petersburg prison was located in the wall and casemates of this Fortress. Poterna (underground passway) and Casemate are situated in the Gosudarev Bastion, the first one in the Peter and Paul Fortress, where the original bricklaying of the 18th century has been preserved.
In the art museums of Russia, women sit in the galleries and guard the collections. When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over. In conversation they told me how much they like being among Russia’s great art. Many of them are retired professionals. I met a former economist, a dentist, an actress, an archivist. A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each day to work, yet she’s happy and proud to be at the museum enjoying the people watching, surrounded by the history of her country.
Andy Freeberg (USA)
California based photographer Andy Freeberg has long been fascinated with the gallery and museum worlds, often turning his camera on the dealers, gallery patrons, artists, museum guards, and their interplay with the works of art themselves. His project Guardians, about the women that guard the art in Russian museums, won Photolucida’s Critical Mass book award and was published in 2010. Freeberg’s work is in many public and private collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Portland Art Museum, the George Eastman House, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.