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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Tsars and Windows into Heaven exhibits

The Tsars’ Cabinet: Two Hundred Years of Russian Decorative Arts Under the Romanovs and Windows into Heaven: Russian Icons from the Lilly and Francis Robicsek Collection of Religious Art

Extended through March 9 due to popular demand!

You won’t have to travel overseas to see hidden treasures of Imperial Russia. Discover them in two exhibitions now open at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. The Tsars’ Cabinet: Two Hundred Years of Russian Decorative Arts Under the Romanovs runs concurrently with Windows into Heaven: Russian Icons from the Lilly and Francis Robicsek Collection of Religious Art. The exhibitions will be on view through March 9, 2014.

The year 2013 marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Romanov Dynasty, or the House of Romanov — the imperial monarchy that ruled Russia from 1613 until 1917 and included the reigns of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas II, the last tsar.

“To commemorate this anniversary, the Museum of History is presenting these exhibitions that give visitors a rare glimpse into the splendor of Imperial Russia,” said Dr. Jeanne Marie Warzeski, Exhibition Curator.

The Tsars’ Cabinet:
Two Hundred Years of Russian Decorative Arts Under the Romanovs 

The N.C. Museum of History is the only mid-Atlantic venue to host The Tsars’ Cabinet, a traveling exhibition showcasing more than 230 objects that exemplify the craftsmanship of artisans under the Romanov tsars. A feast for the eyes, the exhibit features decorative arts dating from the reign of Peter the Great to that of Nicholas II.

From richly ornate table services designed for coronation banquets to jewel-encrusted personal items, the spectacular objects in The Tsars’ Cabinet reveal the extreme lavishness and opulent lifestyle of the Romanov reign. Many of the pieces were made for the ruling tsars and their families.

The exhibit includes objects produced by the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg, one of the oldest porcelain factories in Europe, as well as wares made by the Imperial Glass Factory in St. Petersburg and examples of intricate enamel work from renowned firms such as Fabergé and Ovchinnikov.

Among the treasures in The Tsars’ Cabinet are items from a Kremlin ceremonial table service, yacht service pieces, and elaborate urns made for imperial palaces. Stunning personal artifacts include an Ovchinnikov silver gilt and lapis-lazuli jewel casket and a Fabergé gilded silver and shaded cloisonné enamel cigar case.

The Tsars’ Cabinet is organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary from the Kathleen Durdin Collection, in collaboration with International Arts & Artists.


Windows into Heaven:
Russian Icons from the Lilly and Francis Robicsek Collection of Religious Art

From the life of sumptuous excess under the tsars, Windows into Heaven plumbs the mystical depth of the Russian spirit and offers a glimpse into eternity via the dignified grandeur of the Russian Orthodox Church. The exhibition brings together 36 Russian icons dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, during the time of the Romanovs, from the collection of Lilly and Francis Robicsek of Charlotte, N.C.

When Russia converted to Byzantine Christianity in 988, its churches adopted the ancient tradition of painting icons. Over time, Russians developed a distinctive style of iconography featuring religious scenes in the Byzantine, or Eastern Orthodox, tradition. Eastern Orthodox Christians venerate icons as conduits to God and a focus for their prayers and meditation. Thus, icons become “windows into heaven.”

Visitors will recognize many familiar Christian themes in Windows into Heaven.  Icons showing the Mother of God, events in the life of Christ, the apostles and saints are featured. Less familiar representations include the Old Testament Trinity, as well as saints important to Russia, such as Cyril and Methodius and Seraphim of Sarov.

Beautiful to behold, icons were often made by monks or nuns. The religious images brought comfort to many in times of sorrow and hardship. The variety of icons presented in Windows into Heaven provides an intimate look at Russia’s complex past.


Admission, Related Programs and More


See both exhibitions for one admission price. Purchase tickets online or in the Museum Shop or call 919-807-7835.

$7 per person, ages 18 and up
$5 each, ages 7 to 17, 60 and up, active military personnel, college students with ID
$5 per person, groups of 10 or more with reservations—visit nccapvisit.org to make reservations
Free, ages 6 and under, Museum of History Associates members


The Exhibition Shop will feature a splendid selection of merchandise, much of which is imported directly from Russia.


Exhibition Sponsors


Major sponsors of The Tsars’ Cabinet and Windows into Heaven include North Carolina News Network, Duke Energy, News & Observer, Ragland Family Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Everette C. Sherrill. Additional sponsors are Catering Works, Mr. and Mrs. Paul F. Hoch, Mr. George R. McNeill III, Our State, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth B. Howard, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Smith Family Foundation,ThemeWorks and the Mary and Elliott Wood Foundation.

As seen on TV!



Campana Urn Illustrating the Arts, hard-paste porcelain, Imperial Porcelain Factory, Russia, c. 1845. Photo credit: Giovanni Lunardi. More than 200 porcelain and decorative arts objects are featured in The Tsars’ Cabinet.
Campana Urn Illustrating the Arts, hard-paste porcelain, Imperial Porcelain Factory, Russian, c. 1845. Photo courtesy of Giovanni Lunardi. More than 230 porcelain and decorative arts objects are featured in The Tsars’ Cabinet.
Vladimir Mother of God Icon, egg tempera and gilt on wood, Russian, 19th c. Photo courtesy of Mason Sklut. Windows Into Heaven brings together Russian Orthodox icons dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Vladimir Mother of God Icon, egg tempera and gilt on wood, Russian, 19th c. Photo courtesy of Mason Sklut. Windows into Heaven brings together Russian Orthodox icons dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.