The weekend of May 17-18 the Board of Directors of the Russian Nobility Association in America were honored guests of the Foundation of Russian History at the Library of the Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville, New York. The weekend was devoted to the celebration of the opening of the Foundation’s first exhibition: “ xoxox” as well as the opening of the new Russian Nobility Association Reading Room.
Sunday began with the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, officiated by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen). After lunch, the guests returned to the Library for the official opening statements.
In addition to the Board of the RNA, many prominent guests from the field of Russian studies were present. Dr. Edward Kasinec of Columbia University, Dr. Russell E. Martin of Westminster College, and Dr. Nadiezda Kizenko of SUNY at Albany represented academia. The Russian art world was in evidence with Baron Alexis de Tiesenhausen and members of his staff from Christie’s, Dr. Karen Kettering of Sothebys, Dr. Mark A. Schaffer of A La Vieille Russie, and Russian Decorative Art curators Marilyn Swezey and Nicholas B.A. Nicholson. Imperial cultural journal “Royal Russia” publisher Paul Gilbert also arrived from Canada.
Descendants of the Russian Imperial Family were also in attendance. HSH Prince Dimitri Pavlovich Ilyinsky and his brother and sister-in-law Prince and Princess Michael Pavlovich Ilyinsky (grandsons of HIH Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich of Russia) came from Cincinnati and Litchfield, and their cousins Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kulikovsky (great-grandson of HIH Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia) came from Moscow for the event.
Welcoming remarks were made by Father Vladimir (von Tsurikov), who was behind the massive efforts to create the foundation, acquire the collections, and arrange for the creation of the exhibition. Father Vladimir spoke about the importance of the collection for the members of the Russian Diaspora, as well as for the local community of Russians and non-Russians alike.
Dr. Cyril E. Geacintov, President of the Russian Nobility Association In America also spoke of the importance of the preservation of the archives of the Nobility Association, not just for its genealogies, but for “its documentation of the treasured stewardship of an entire culture in emigration.”
The Russian Consul was also able to make kind remarks about the importance of the museum and the collection both for the monastery and for Russia itself “for the fact of having preserved a history which was largely lost in the motherland.” The consul prompted laughs when he mentioned that Russia would be more than happy event with copies of everything in the collections, though it would also be pleased if more objects returned to Russia—“such gifts,” he said, smiling, “would be completely voluntary, of course.”
The dignitaries and guests were all impressed by the beauty, breadth, scale and quality of the exhibition. From important illuminated manuscripts of the period of Tsar Michael I Feodorovich, to a regimental flag and military awards of the White Army, the exhibition encompasses the entire scope of the Russian Imperial period. The exhibition is notable for its ecclesiastical objects, its historical documents, and objects belonging to the Imperial Family, including tableware used at Tobolsk from which the imperial monograms had been erased, Imperial icons from the “House of Special Purpose,” and diamond, pearl, and emerald jewelry recovered by the Sokolov investigation after the murder of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
The new Russian Nobility Association Library and Reading Room and Library is an attractive, modern space in the lower level of the museum. Decorated with portraits of the Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, as well as a handsome landscape by Gorbatoff, the books of the Association have been carefully catalogued and shelved. The collection includes rare editions of the Pridvornii Kalendar or Court Calendars, as well as specialized materials on His Majesty’s Life-Guard Cavalry Regiment, and the regional Nobility Unions, as well as an as yet uncatalogued collection of memoirs, manuscripts, and letters of former members, ultimately to be made available to scholars through digital copies.