More responsibility

[b]Staff of Gomel’s Palace and Park Estate given ‘For Spiritual Revival’ Presidential Award[/b]General Director Oleg Ryzhkov is pleased and excited on receiving the award, sharing his thoughts.
Staff of Gomel’s Palace and Park Estate given ‘For Spiritual Revival’ Presidential Award
General Director Oleg Ryzhkov is pleased and excited on receiving the award, sharing his thoughts.
If I’m not mistaken, this is not your first award...
True; our staff were first awarded ‘For Spiritual Revival’ in 2007 — when the palace became a museum. Its interiors were recreated anew and the whole estate changed its appearance, becoming Gomel’s pearl. Of course, I feel pride in our site and in the staff I lead. However, it’s brought more responsibility, as we are expected to organise and host major projects.
What were your achievements last year?
All our projects are primarily connected with Gomel’s status as the cultural capital of Belarus and of the CIS. We’re eager to meet the expectations surrounding this honour and are keen to make our year memorable for Gomel residents and city guests. In 2011, we organised exhibitions jointly with partners from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Iran, Moldova and the Baltic States. 
The exhibition at Yerevan’s Art Museum must have been the grandest.
It was the most expensive, insured for just under $2m. We organised a wonderful exhibition which featured articles made from silver, in addition to 18th-19th century carpets and clothes.
Which other cities did the exhibition tour?
We took the exhibition to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw and other cities. This allowed us to communicate with colleagues and, as a result, we’ve been invited to organise an exhibition of ancient stone clocks from the 19th century this spring, at Kaliningrad’s Museum of Amber. In autumn, we’re taking our ‘Storks’ exhibition to French Clermont-Ferrand and to Poland.
Tell us more about the Storks art project.
It is devoted to Belarusian folk culture and traditions, which have always inspired sincere interest among foreign audiences. Storks are common in Belarusian mythology, thought to be people or angels punished by the God. They become storks and are said to have mysterious qualities: acting as guardians of the family (and nation), delivering new babies and having close connections with deceased relatives. We aim to show the traditional folk culture of the Gomel Region using artefacts and texts linked to the stork: embroidered and woven fabrics, folk costumes and other spiritual and material items. Even folk icons will occupy a special place at the show. 
What about the wonderful Gomel Beehive project?
A year ago, we decided to establish a youth art centre in Gomel.
Similar to the Beehive which united talented young artists in Paris last year...
If you remember, many Belarus-born painters later became famous members of the Parisian school of fine arts: Marc Chagall, Haim Soutine, and Mikhail Kokoin (born in Gomel). We’re working on a project — partnering an Italian charity organisation — to produce joint exhibitions and presentations; the first have already been organised.
If I’m not mistaken, programmes run under the aegis of UNESCO are also among the forthcoming international projects.
We do plan to take part in programmes run by this international organisation. The UNESCO National Commission in Minsk has approved financing for our joint folk icon exhibition: with Russia and Ukraine. It envisages restoration of rare art works and, if all goes well, will do much to preserve our unique treasures.
The Gomel Palace and Park Estate is among the first Belarusian venues to open workshops to restore ancient rarities. What are the results?
Our museum had many rarities in need of restoration which are now on show, thanks to our masters. City residents sometimes bring us icons, ancient furniture and frames for restoration; it’s wonderful that they want to preserve the memory of their forefathers in this way. It’s vital for society’s spiritual wellbeing. 
Listening to you, I understand that an ordinary museum is now something more, uniting diverse interests and all possible artistry. You are active in educational projects and international co-operation... 
We liaise with others worldwide. Belarusian museums are not just exhibition halls; they are centres of cultural life.

By Violetta Daniliuk
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