Tourists search for treasures

Museums and palaces open new exhibitions and halls, while galleries show modern art from abroad

By Viktar Korbut

Autumn is a time when our cultural life gains momentum. Tourists travelling to Belarus might be interested to know where they should go to gain new impressions and come to know the country closer, learning more about the history of Belarusians’ cultural ties with other nations.

Poland, now presiding over the EU, is presenting one hundred days of its culture in Belarus, for the whole autumn period. The I, Culture Festival has already begun — with events in London, Berlin, Madrid, Tokyo, Beijing, Brussels, Paris, Moscow and Kiev. The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to Belarus, H.E. Mr. Leszek Sherepka, notes that artistic events are planned for these nine capitals, in addition to Minsk. It’s a worthy list!

Those wishing to find out more about Polish theatre can do so from October 7th-26th in Minsk, during the Theatre International Forum. From October 27th-29th, the capital is to host the Days of Lublin Theatre, while Polish films are being screened within the 18th Minsk International Listapad Film Festival (November 5th-12th). In addition, the Palace of Sports shall host the Lem Planet avant-garde performance on November 11th (based on Stanislaw Lem’s works), as part of the Polish cultural programme in Minsk. On November 22nd, Zakopower band is giving a concert, uniting Polish folk and modern music. An exhibition of paintings by Belarusian-Polish artist and teacher Ferdinand Rushchits, held at the National Art Museum from November 25th to December 31st, concludes the wonderful festival.

The Minsk-Mensk: Pages of History exhibition of rare editions is on show at the Presidential Library of Belarus, featuring books published in Belarus in the 1920s-1930s (when the capital was officially named in the Belarusian manner — Mensk).
The exhibition comprises valuable books from the library’s department of old printed and rare editions. Among them is the Belarusian Constitution (1927; in Russian, Belarusian, Polish and Hebrew) and national classical writer Maxim Bogdanovich’s original Vyanok (Wreath) collection — published during his lifetime. The most interesting exhibits include photos of streets, squares, parks and suburbs of Minsk, in addition to its old maps and plans.

The Museum of Autographs has been launched at Gomel’s Central City Library. It has taken many years to collect all its exhibits, with the staff taking care to preserve books with their authors’ signatures. Visitors to the museum can see autographs by Mother Teresa, Marshall Semen Budenny, cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin, German Titov and Georgy Grechko and film director Krzysztof Zanussi, in addition to Vladimir Mulyavin, Igor Luchenok and Yuri Bashmet.

Most of the signatures are by literary personalities such as Ivan Shamyakin, Vasily Bykov, Alexey Dudarev, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

The village of Zhilichi is situated not far from Bobruisk although, these days, it’s more a centre of culture than a quaint rural settlement. After restoration, the local 19th century palace has opened its halls to visitors. According to Culture Minister Pavel Latushko, the building is already on the State List of Historical Cultural Treasures (as a 1st category site). “It’s an example of the revival of our material legacy, while showing the possibilities for spiritual development. An arts school is to be located inside the unique building, teaching winners of international contests and scholarship holders of the Special Fund of the President of Belarus for Support of the Talented Youth,” he tells us.

The restoration of Zhilichi Palace and Park Estate began in 2009, and is due to be completed in 2015, hosting a museum, mini-hotel and library. In turn, the Radziwills’ Palace in Nesvizh is set to be fully open by December, following its massive restoration.

The Molodechno Local History Museum has a display devoted to the history and culture of the Minsk Region. Coinciding with the Dazhynki-2011 Fair, it’s impressive in having an odditorium — featuring the reconstructed home of a 19th century Polish gentleman.

The Director of the museum, Taisia Lenkevich, took me on a tour of the other gallery halls, saying, “Here, you can see archaeological finds from the first settlements in the district, in addition to documents and artefacts telling of events from the times of the Polotsk principality, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Rzech Pospolita and the Russian Empire. One of our halls is devoted to the 1812 War. You can also see a temple ring once worn by a woman from the 12th-13th century Dregovichi tribe, as well as 11th-12th century artefacts made from glass, leather and bone and 16th-17th century tiles. A gold-woven 18th century Slutsk sash is also worthy of attention — donated by the Moscow State Historical Museum in 1968. Other exhibits include editions from printing houses in Cologne, Nesvizh, Vilno, Warsaw and Moscow, and 17th century hand written documents.”

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