Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts

The Stieglitz Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts is among the most interesting museums in St Petersburg, although it is not one of the most well known attractions.

The Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts was founded in 1878 at the Baron Stieglitz school of Technical Design. Stieglitz was the court banker, often referred to as the “King of St. Petersburg’s Stock Exchange.” As he was also very fond of Arts, Stieglitz decided to create a museum for the students of this school. The new museum was to accommodate Stieglitz’s private collection of rare glassware, tapestries, porcelain, furniture, and tiled stoves. Eventually his collection evolved into one of Europe’s richest collections of decorative and applied arts with over 30,000 exhibits on display.

The building for the museum was constructed from 1885 to 1896 using the design of its first director, architect М. Е. Messmacher, and was created in Italian Renaissance style. The lower part of the intentionally rusted facade has large arch-shaped windows; the upper part includes twin windows that are richly decorated with architectural elements and sculpture. The interiors of the various halls were designed to match the collections of masterpieces which are showcased there.

After 1917 a large part of the museum collection was handed over to the Hermitage. In 1923 the Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts was officially reorganized as a branch of the State Hermitage Museum. From 1926 to 1929 the museum was closed.

Unfortunately during the Soviet years the luxurious interiors fell into disrepair, with one hall even used as a gym and its walls painted over. After the fall of the Soviet Union a slow process or restoration began at the museum and eventually it was reopened in 1945.

At present, the museum displays examples of Russian and Western European Art (16th-20th centuries) as well as Soviet Applied Art and industrial design. There are remarkable collections of Russian tiled stoves (18th century) and Soviet textiles. The museum also has various decorative arts and crafts, including furniture, ceramics, glass, fabric, costumes, porcelain, chandeliers, tiled stoves, artistic metalwork, bass relieves and carvings.

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