By Viktar Korbut
The event was first held in France, enabling those with small incomes to visit museums. Some time later, it gained popularity all over Europe, with Belarus joining in 2004. The National Art Museum pioneered the festival, with thirty percent of all Belarusian museums now part of the event, remaining open to the public all night. The figure rises every year, as a greater number of museums open annually countrywide. So far, there are 150 of them.
Museums in the capital and beyond are demonstrating interesting exhibitions. The National History Museum’s Exhibited for the First Time presents a treasury of 17th century printed editions, alongside graphic pieces by Pavel Tatarnikov and paintings by Yuri Nesteruk (featuring the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania). Also included are photos depicting battle scenes from the liberation of Belarus against the Nazis and the National Bank’s state awards and commemorative coins.
Even after Museum Night is finished, the History Museum continues the tradition of showcasing rarities, presenting the restored 16th century Apostle. The book was printed by Belarusian Mamonichi merchants’ printing house, in Vilnius, for further distribution among Russian Orthodox believers (at that time, book printing was underdeveloped in Russia). It was purchased from a private owner ten years ago, in a bad state. Restorers Andrey Krapivka and Irina Zelenaya have spent over a year restoring it to its original form.
This summer, the largest museum complex in the country opens: Nesvizh Palace and Park Ensemble. Decorations are now being prepared, with the site boasting over a thousand chandeliers. The most luxurious have a great number of crystal pendants and are covered in gold, chrome and brass — all produced by a private company in Lida.
Meanwhile, the tourist season is in full swing at Mir Castle, with guests able to visit the ancient fortress (part of the UNESCO World Heritage List). The castle has been operational as a museum since early 2011. Acting Director Sergey Berezovsky tells us that it is enjoying increasing interest, with Belarusians from all over the Republic arriving, in addition to Russians. Tourists from the UK, Germany, France, Japan, China and elsewhere also come.
From time to time, the castle’s interiors and inner courtyard have been used to shoot documentaries and feature films. The castle also traditionally hosts concerts organised by ONT TV Channel, with the next scheduled for June 17th-19th. At present, tourists can visit the south-western tower and two towers in the northern block, in addition to the chapel of the Svyatopolk-Mirskie dukes. A Minsk company is to open a restaurant and a hotel on the premises — soon to welcome their first guests.
By 2017, a museum quarter will have been built in Minsk, with the project approved by the Government.