Museum of old Belarusian culture
Museum of old Belarusian culture
The Museum of Old Belarusian Culture at the Institute of Art criticism, Ethnography and Folklore was founded on July 7, 1977 by a decision of the BSSR Academy of Sciences Board. The exposition was opened on May 15, 1979. During 1976—1985, the collections of icon-paintings, carving and sculpture were gathered. About a thousand of Belarusian ethnography relics of the early 20th century were obtained at the History and Ethnography museum of Lithuania. Andrzei Ciechanoviecky (London) donated an 18th century long waistband produced at Lionne manufactory. In 1985, the accessible depository was made, and in the 1990s the Ethnography and Folk Arts of the Chernobyl Zone department was organized.
The museum collections consist of some 6,000 articles from archaeological excavations at sites of ancient Belarusian settlements and burial mounds dating to the periods from Paleolith till the late Middle Ages; of 630 icons (16th – 19th cc.) on wood and canvas, 2 portraits (18th c.), 167 carved sculptures (16th — 19th cc.) and 4 sculptures from the Sapieha family tombstone, ca. 2,500 pieces of folk weaving and embroidery (including over 30 complete sets of folk dress), 515 decorative fabric pieces from 18—19th cc. (including 2 Slutsk waistbands), 1,080 pottery pieces and polychrome tiles, ca. 3,000 arts and crafts’ pieces, 1,020 ethnographic works, over 2,000 relics of ethnography and folk arts taken from the villages settled out after the Chernobyl disaster.
One can mention such works of art here as a unique icon named The Compassion which was made in the 15th century be Nicos Lambudis, master from Greece; the Adoration of the Magi, a Renaissance art work of 16th c.; the Virgin of Jerusalem, late 16th c.; the St. Paraskeva, 1642; the Trinity, 17th c.; the Sapieha family tombstone from Golshany, etc. The Belarusian land is a classical example of interactions between Christian cultures of East and West: local artists combined the Renaissance and Baroque with the Medieval foundation. The distinctive Belarusian icon-painting school was formed finally at the border of 16th and 17th centuries. The icon-painting tradition had been preserved, but the arts in the second half of 17th century were marked by a great diversity. Another school of Belarusian sacral painting of 17th and 18th centuries is presented with sacred images on canvas found in Catholic shrines most often: traits of the Renaissance and the Baroque are typical for them.
A separate branch was made of the primitive works from Uniate churches: the simplicity of painting is compensated with their naive realism. The religious sculpture, royal doors and fragments of carving (17th and 18th cc.) give an idea of the skills of Belarusian carvers of the Baroque times.
Metal art works are represented with icon mountings and book frameworks containing picturesque enamel. A collection of old fabrics consists of liturgic clothes: ornate robes, veils, stoles, etc. The Slutsk waistbands and their fragments are of the highest value here. A small collection of Belarusian tiles has been gathered in the museum as well.
The archaeological collection includes some pieces from the Stone Age, objects from various cultures obtained at the excavated sites of ancient settlements and burial mounds, the works produced by craftsmen from such medieval Belarusian towns as Lukoml, Polatsk, Vaukavysk, as well as interesting things brought here from distant places.
The collection of traditional Belarusian textiles kept here is one of the best in the republic. Weaving, embroidery and lacery are widely practiced everywhere in Belarus. The best achievements of Belarusian seamstresses are to be seen in traditional dresses and ritual towels.
These masterpieces reflect the character of Belarusian people, the standards of their spiritual and material life, trade and cultural links with people of other countries. Great attention is paid to regional and local variants of dresses and towels differing in ornaments, compositions and colours.
The ethnographic collection consists of more than 3,000 relics that depict different aspects of everyday life of Belarusians so vividly.
In 2001, the Council of Ministers of Belarus entered the museum collections into the list of objects representing the national and scientific property of the republic.