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Art gallery opens at Potemkin’s Palace in Krichev, devoted to former owners
By Olga Kislyakova

The ancient city of Krichev is now celebrating its 876th anniversary, with the Palace of Potemkin launching an art gallery dedicated to the Golynski family. The mansion was built from 1778-1787 by famous architect Starov (who designed the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg). It was first owned by Prince Grigory Potemkin who, in January 1776, gained his authority from Catherine the Second. Yan Golynski bought the palace and Krichev’s lands from Catherine’s favourite in 1787; his grandson, Stephen Golynski, took over in 1849, updating the residence in the fashionable Gothic Revival style of the time.

In the late 1980s, restoration of the mansion in Krichev began, in 18th century style. Its exquisite interiors were recreated from old drawings and funds were taken from regional and national budgets. In 2003, the Prince’s Palace joined the State List of Historical and Cultural Treasures and, in 2008, it opened to visitors. It includes the regional museum of local history and a registry office, as well as an art gallery dedicated to the Golynski family.

Museum Director Vadim Ryskov recalls, “The Golynski family once had a very rich archive, including rare documents such as a royal manifesto of privileges, bearing the personal signatures of monarchs. From 1959-1960, workers replacing the palace’s wooden floors found a clay pot holding 49 letters, requests and lists, dating from 1719-1905 — all from the Golynski family archive. The oldest is from March 17th, 1719, in which Onufry Menzhinsky writes: ‘a cart of oats came to Cazimirovo Farm from Mogilev but Voight said that the oats lack milky ripeness and are mixed with plain oats’. In his letter, Menzhinsky asks for help from, probably, Kazimierz Golynski.”

A descendant of the noble family, currently living in St. Petersburg, Alexander Krasnolutsky, recently wrote about these letters and the revival of Potemkin’s Palace in Krichev in his book The Golynski Family’s Bad Luck. After the opening ceremony of the art gallery in Krichev, he noted, “Since childhood, I’ve known that my mother’s ancestors come from the Golynski noble family, with the emblem of Klamry. They owned vast estates in the Mogilev Province. My grandmother died during the blockade of Leningrad during the Great Patriotic war but my mother, Ninel, aged 12 at the time, remembered her stories. She told me much about our famous ancestors, who moved to Russia from France on the eve of the revolution. On growing up, I began to study historical archives in Minsk and St. Petersburg, looking through a great deal of literature on Polish genealogy. I used the library at the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg and that in Vilnius. The material I gathered described the Golynski family’s history from the 18th century to the present day.

In Krichev, I learnt a lot of interesting things about my ancestors, thanks to the staff of the district museum and the former director, Natalia Morozova. It’s vital to preserve our knowledge of history and share it with children. I’m very grateful to Belarus, as its people respect their heritage and historical and cultural values. Both the palace and museum in Krichev are beautiful, as are the portraits of the Golynski family. I’m sure that I’ll return more than once.”
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