March 11 – May 21, 2017
Opening Reception & Symposium, March 18, 2:00-6:00PM
This exhibit will explore Mary’s life as portrayed in icons; how her relationship with her Son has defined her; and how the Russian people have viewed her complex role in salvation.
Mary’s role in Christianity grew out of her role as Jesus’ mother. As early Christians tried to figure out who Jesus was and how he related to God, they also began asking questions about Mary: If Jesus was entirely divine from the beginning of his life on earth—as the Council of Nicaea declared in 325—then how was Mary Jesus’ mother? Did she only give birth to the human Jesus? Or did she also give birth to the divine Jesus, the Son of God?
Over the centuries as Western devotion to her grew, Mary became important in her own right, apart from her Son. She gained titles as Co-Redemptrix and Queen of Heaven. Specific devotions to her, such as the Rosary, came into being. As her cult grew in strength, Western pictures of her began to see her not as mature woman but as a slim, young woman with flowing hair, who was both sweet and compassionate, with a demure humility.
In the East, however, the Virgin never attained a cult apart from her Son. As you will see in these icons, seldom is she portrayed without some relationship to Christ. From the beginning, she was portrayed as one in full possession of her powers. She is never portrayed as the young, adoring mother so often found on our Christmas cards. Rather she is a woman who has born life and death, seen joy and grief, and has “pondered all these things in her heart.”
Reverend Chris Visminas curated this exhibit. She is an ordained Episcopal Minister, holds a B. A. in theology from Duquesne University, and a M. A. in theology from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
TWO IMPERIAL ICONS
October 15, 2016–May 14, 2017
These two important Imperial Presentation icons by Faberge and Kurliukov, were created as gifts for the 1908 wedding of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Younger (1890-1958) to Prince Willem of Sweden, Duke of Sodermanland.
The “Feodorovskaya Mother of God” by Faberge, was a gift from the St. Petersburg Nobility Assembly, and an icon of the “Image Made Without Hands” by Kurliukov in the pan-Slavic style, was a gift from the Moscow Merchants’ Association.
These two icons represent the differences in style and political intentions of the two groups of donors. Gifts to Russian Grand Duchesses were known for their extravagance.
HOLY FOOLS TO WONDER WORKERS: SAINTS OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH
November 19, 2016–February 26, 2017
Holy Fools to Wonder Workers will feature 30 icons from the Museum’s collection that are not regularly on view. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to explore different types of saints celebrated by the Orthodox Church, from Prophets of the Old Testament to the Monastics living in rural Russia. Popular saints such as Nicholas and George will be shown alongside those who are lesser known but equally fascinating figures. There is Simeon the Stylite, who lived for many years atop a pillar, and Saint Mary of Egypt, a repentant sinner who lived alone in the deserts of Egypt.
Saints play an integral role in the Orthodox Church: they serve as models of Christianity and are believed to function as intercessors, forming a link between the secular world and the holy. In the early days of Christianity saints included biblical figures, Church leaders, and the growing ranks of passionate Christians who willingly died for their faith. As the Church grew, people were remembered for their great piety and works of faith.
A saint is recognized within a localized region long before the Holy Synod and Hierarch begin the formal process of Glorification, also called Canonization. The Glorification process involves an investigation of the holy person’s life, any of their writings, and of any miracles attributed to them. After this process, the life of the saint is officially recorded, an icon is created, and an annual Feast Day is set, often the date of the saint’s death.
Each day of the Liturgical Year commemorates several saints; some are celebrated internationally while others are only remembered in small communities. Monarchs and peasants, warriors and monks alike have found places in the lists of the Church and the hearts of the faithful.
IN COMPANY WITH ANGELS: SEVEN REDISCOVERED TIFFANY WINDOWS
July 14 – October 16, 2016
“Angels Representing Seven Churches,” the central element of this exhibit, is a set of free-standing, eight-foot tall, windows created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1902 at Tiffany Studios in New York City. Originally commissioned for a church in Cincinnati, the seven windows depict angels which are almost life-size, illustrating passages from the Bible’s Book of Revelation. Although they form a set, each angel, named according to their Biblical reference, has different characteristics—and a unique personality—depicted in glass through the artistry of Tiffany Studio.
As an estimated half of Tiffany’s church windows have been lost, the tour of this full set of seven rediscovered windows is a unique opportunity to appreciate both Tiffany’s art and his craftsmanship in an intimate museum setting. But more than an artistic tour de force, and more than an interpretation of a set of biblical passages, the story of the Seven Angels weaves together history, art and spirituality. The exhibit includes not only the dramatic Tiffany windows, but is also supported by interpretive text, illustrations, and music.
TOYS, TRINKETS, AND TREASURES: THE STORY OF THE NESTING DOLL
February 11– June 26, 2016
Russian Matryoshka dolls, often painted to depict peasants, have become an icon of Russian culture. The bright colors, distinctive shapes, and the imaginative concepts have delighted generations of children and are thoroughly recognizable to young and old alike. The Museum of Russian Icons unveiled its newest addition, a collection of nesting dolls from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Japan and other countries. These dolls came to the Museum through the generosity of collector Pamela Kruskal who gifted 370 sets in the summer of 2015. The collection contains the story of the nesting doll which extends well beyond the well-known Russian dolls of the 20th century.
DISCOVERING ST. NICHOLAS
November 20, 2015–January 23, 2016
The traveling exhibit Discovering Santa Claus originated from the St. Nicholas Center in Holland, Michigan. The exhibition showcased a vast collection of art, icons, symbols, toys, statues and other treasures from around the world.
FEASTS: EARTHLY CELEBRATIONS OF HEAVENLY EVENTS
September 26–November 7, 2015
This exhibition showcased more than 30 rare icons depicting significant Russian Orthodox feast days, commemorating the annual cycle of holy days, the veneration of saints and the Church’s twelve major feast days.
BYZANTIUM TO RUSSIA: THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF RUSSIAN ICONS
Featuring icons from London’s British Museum
May 2– September 12, 2015
Byzantium to Russia was curated by Gordon B. Lankton, Dr. Raoul Smith and Kent dur Russell, and organized by the Museum of Russian Icons. A selection of 35 icons and 30 objects from the British Museum traced the stylistic development of sacred art from the center of Christian civilization to the introduction of Christianity to Russia. The show included icons as well as Byzantine cast metal objects, ivories and engraved gems. This is the first time that the British Museum, London, has lent St John the Baptist (Constantinople c. 1300) and the famous St George and the Dragon (known as the “Black George” Novgorod late 14th century).
THE VIBRANT ART AND STORIED HISTORY OF ETHIOPIAN ICONS
60 Icons & Artifacts from a Private European Collection
January 23–April 18, 2015
The Vibrant Art and Storied History of Ethiopian Icons illustrated the Christian traditions of this legendary East African nation. The exhibition featured 60 small-scale icons, triptychs, and illuminated manuscripts from the 16th century to the present. Several cast-brass processional crosses with intricate designs from the Museum’s own collection, as well as some small pendant crosses fundamental to sacred vestments, icons and a stone-carved triptych were also included.
SIBERIA IMAGINED AND REIMAGINED
September 13, 2014– January 10, 2015
From the everyday to the bizarre, 130 unique and powerful photos by Russian photographers. This exhibit brought photographs of Siberia by Russian photographers to the American public for the first time. Countless images of Siberia by non-Russian photographers have been published and those depictions have shaped perceptions around the world. Siberia Imagined and Reimagined offered an insider’s view.