Matryoshka: The Russian Nesting Doll Opens November 21, 2009


Dating back to the turn of the 20th century, the nesting dolls on display reveal the rich artistry and folklore of these iconic works of Russian folk art.
MINNEAPOLIS (October 19, 2009) – On Saturday, November 21, 2009, The Museum of Russian Art will unveil Matryoshka:  The Russian Nesting Doll, a new exhibition of Matryoshkas on loan from a private collector in San Francisco.  These brightly painted wooden objects have become a symbol of Russia and Russian folk art; their bell-shaped silhouettes are familiar to the young and old.  Whether depicting ancient legends, religious themes, or political caricatures, Matryoshkas can tell us more than meets the eye—as one doll opens to reveal the next one inside—about the history of Russia.  The exhibition will remain on display in TMORA’s Fireside Gallery through March 29, 2010.

Matryoshka nesting dolls are one of the most popular gifts that millions of travelers purchase in Russia.  However, the Matryoshka’s history and meaning remain virtually unknown to many admirers of this popular art form.  The exhibition Matryoshka:  The Russian Nesting Doll will be the first of its kind at a U.S. museum, uncovering the artistic and historical significance of this iconic Russian toy and revealing the Matryoshka’s richness and variety.

Painted Matryoshka dolls are fascinating storytellers.  Elaborately decorated with scenes from Russian folklore, history, and politics, they provide a visually rich source of learning for adults and children.  The dolls on display were produced over several decades and will include pre-WWII dolls as well as dolls from various regional centers of Matryoshka production during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods.  The display will also feature unique Matryoshka dolls decorated by the recognized masters of Matryoshka painting.

“The exhibition will feature a genre of folk art that is highly recognizable and elaborate,” said Judi Dutcher, TMORA director and president. “The scope and diversity of this collection will certainly delight both young and old and it is our hope that they learn about Russian folklore, history, and art through these joyful wooden dolls.”

The dolls on display were selected from a private San Francisco-based collection of wooden dolls, one of the largest collections of its kind in the United States.

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