Opening April 20, 2013 – Jewish Life in the Russian Empire


Opening April 20, 2013

Jewish Life in the Russian Empire:

Photographs from the Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia


MINNEAPOLIS (April 15, 2013)– The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) presents Jewish Life in the Russian Empire: Photographs from the Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia, a unique photographic record of Jewish communities in Tsarist Russia between 1867 and 1916. The exhibition brings together sixty-three archival reproductions featuring portraits of Russia’s Jewish subjects as well as scenes from daily life during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The remarkable images come to Minnesota for the first time from the collections of the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg, Russia, one of the largest ethnographic museums in Europe, with holdings of half a million items including 200,000 photographs.


The earliest images in this show are drawn from the seminal Ethnographic Exhibition held in Moscow in 1867. Organized by the Imperial Society of Natural History, Anthropology, and Ethnography, the 1867 Exhibition featured the Empire’s diverse cultures through photographs, costumes, musical instruments and household objects. On display at TMORA are seventeen reproductions of photographs that were originally displayed in the Ethnographic Exhibition in 1867.


Works of eight distinguished nineteenth-century photographers are included in this exhibition. Among them is the famous Jewish photographer Mikhail Greim (1828-1911), who produced a photographic series depicting individuals from different social backgrounds and professions. Portraits of Jewish inhabitants of Bukhara and Samarkand were created by the artist, photographer and anthropologist Samuel Dudin (1863-1929) during his expeditions to Central Asia between 1900 and 1902. Impressive images of the inhabitants of the shtetl (‘small town’ in Yiddish) are captured in the photographic works of researchers Mikhail Krukovsky (1865-1936) and Alexander Serzhputovsky (1864-1940).


One of the highlights of this exhibition is a series of photographs compiled by Semion An-sky (1863-1920). An-sky was a prominent Jewish ethnographer and writer who inspired, organized and directed ethnographic expeditions into the Pale of Settlement under the auspices of the St. Petersburg Jewish Historical and Ethnographical Society. His expeditions carried out detailed research on the everyday life and traditions of Ashkenazi Jews, focusing on arts and crafts, shtetl architecture, music, oral folklore, as well as beliefs and religious practices. Semion An-sky’s endeavor was of groundbreaking significance for the modern ethnography of East European Jewry.


Museum Director Christopher DiCarlo commented, “We are pleased to present this selection of photographs from the world-class collection of The Russian Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg as a way to underscore the importance of Judaism to world culture as well as to local communities here in Minnesota.”


About the collection: The Russian Museum of Ethnography (RME) houses a collection of about 500,000 items relating to the ethnography of peoples of the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The RME was established as the ethnographic department of the Alexander III Russian Museum in 1902. Today, the RME presents exhibitions, educational programs and academic conferences to its visitors from around the world.


Jewish Life in the Russian Empire: Photographs from The Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia is on view through October 20, 2013.


High-resolution images available upon request.


About The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA)


The Museum of Russian Art, a non-profit, educational institution, is the only museum in North America dedicated exclusively to the preservation and exhibition of all forms of Russian art and artifacts from many eras. TMORA is located in a state-of-the-art, historical building at 5500 Stevens Ave. S. (intersection of I-35W and Diamond Lake Road) in Minneapolis. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday) and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday). Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children 14 and up, as well as university students with ID; children under 14 are free. Museum members receive free admission. To learn more about the Museum’s exhibitions, events and history, visit or call 612-821-9045.





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