I want to go to Gatchina!
I bet that there is hardly a person among my friends (from abroad Russia) who would tell me right away what Gatchina is. So let me remind you that it is a former emperor's residence, most-known for Paul I spending most of his life there training his soldiers. But! Today it is one of the most beautiful and entertaining suburbs of Saint Petersburg with a lot of interesting stuff to see. But, please, allow me to go few years back.
Several years ago I participated in the organization of a grand conference on museum marketing. There were amazing museum specialists and foreign museum experts invited to help us look at ourselves from another point of view and teach us what a museum worker would never think of him/herself. Among those people there was Martis Davis. He used to call himself Marty and his most famous phrase was "Eeeezy". Besides that he was a pioneer in public relations and communications and amazing educator with enormous list of successful projects inspired by his genius. Still, Russian audience was quite skeptical about what he wanted to say. His "eeeesy" attitude to any museum issues that seem to be unbearable was too hard to take.
Now back to Gatchina. One day of the conference was held in Gatchina Palace, outstanding architectural monument and mystery box with loads of secrets and stories to tell a visitor. But back at the time of conference only small part of it was open for public - I should mention that it suffered a lot from both time and war. The conference participants though were allowed to visit the part closed for public where they listened to a very sad story of little money from state budget that was not enough for reconstruction. And here Marty stood out saying: "Don't make reconstruction. Open a luxury bar where you will only serve black caviar and best vodka in the ruined interiors!" Of course, everybody laughed. He had plenty of similar offers - concerts in historic park and theatre plays on huge stage in front of the palace, welcoming services for visitors and many others. But any museum worker would say mission was impossible.
Coming there several times after I saw a typical situation - a bit by bit the newly restored objects/interiors appeared here and there but quite unnoticeable for ordinary visitors. But last summer I went there again to see an outstanding museum that looks stunning because it is so unlike the other architectural-historic museum-reserves and it is so damn cool! People are allowed almost everywhere.
Amazing weapon exhibition is placed in one of the unrestored galleries where it looks so right. Walking around this palace with no guiding was an amazing adventure - no humbling old ladies, no stop signs, truly interesting exhibitions. Should I add that at the entrance we were offered a stroller for the kids?! Well, in Russia I should. Marty would have been so happy to see all the changes!
Besides dramatical change in the palace, the whole museum-reserve became a true amusement. They offer many interesting events, interactive programs and entertaining happenings. They even invented the so-called "I want to go to Gatchina!"project that has so much to offer to any categories of visitors. As they only have it in Russian language announced yet from time to time we will write here about the events they offer just out of respect for their great job in changing for better in such dramatic way. Follow the news and don't miss a thing!