Restoration of neo-Russian style plaster bunches in the Polytechnic Museum to be completed soon

March 24

Renovators at the Polytechnic Museum are completing the restoration of a stucco decoration element of the second half of the 19th century — the plaster bunches. They decorate the inner central stairway side on the building’s lower floors. It is interesting to note that this decoration of the museum interior was discovered quite recently, about a year ago, under a thick layer of plaster. Until that moment, it was considered lost.

The central staircase is a kind of the museum’s visiting card. The stairs built in the neo-Russian style are located in the central part of the museum. It was renovated in the Soviet times, before the 1980 Summer Olympics. As a result, the appearance of the first two flights of stairs changed dramatically. Thus, the plaster balusters were replaced with wooden ones, and some dolomite steps — with marble ones. Plaster bunches, one of the most specific elements of the neo-Russian style decor, were covered with a thick layer of plaster.

“The decorative elements of the second half of the 19th century were hidden under thick layers of plaster for almost half a century. Whereas about five percent of the ornament surface turned out to have been lost. The total length of the bunch ornament exceeds 200 meters. The bunches are being restored right in the central building of the museum. A team of 20 molders have been cleaning the gypsum elements from sand-lime mixture and paint for several months, while experts were recreating the lost elements according to the survived samples. Today, most of the restoration work is completed, and the ornament will be fully restored to its original appearance by the end of spring,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Moscow’s Cultural Heritage Department.

He added that the central staircase is one of the largest restoration projects in the building. The scope of work covers the area of ​​more than six thousand square meters.

Thus, in March, specialists strengthened the plaster layer of walls at the area of ​​1.5 thousand square meters. Mortar was pumped into cavities between the peeled plaster and the wall with special syringes. Mortar composition is close to the original lime-gypsum compound that was used in the construction and decoration of rooms at the end of the nineteenth century.

The restoration of stairs is also underway. Special dolomite linings are being placed on the damaged areas. Dolomite is similar in composition, color and density to the pre-revolutionary stone. The size of stairs’ pieces varies from a few centimeters to 2.5 meters. Each lining is milled on high-precision machines in the Vladimir region, where there is a dolomite deposit. Then specialists install these elements manually on the damaged places.

The Moscow Polytechnic Museum is one of the oldest scientific and technical museums in the world. It is located at 3/4 Novaya Ploshchad and is a cultural heritage site of regional and federal significance. The construction of the Polytechnic Museum began at the end of the XIX century and was completed at the beginning of the XX century. Thus, the central part of the building was built in 1875-1877 according to the project of the architect I.A. Monighetti; its southern part — in 1883 according to the project of N.A. Shokhin, and the northern extension — in 1903-1907 according to the project of G.I. Makaev assisted by architects V.I. Eramishantsev and V.V. Voeikov.

The appearance of the building reflected different styles of the Russian architecture at the turn of the epochs, including the neo-Russian style and Art Nouveau.

In the twentieth century, the museum became a favorite place not only for lovers of exact sciences, but also for those who favored literature. Legendary poetry readings were held in the Big Auditorium of the Polytechnic Museum before the revolution — in the 1910s. Vladimir Mayakovsky and David Burlyuk performed here. In the 1930s, Alexander Tvardovsky and Nikolai Zabolotsky read their poems in the museum, and fans of modern poetry came here during the “thawing” of the 1960s to listen to Bulat Okudzhava, Robert Rozhdestvensky and Andrei Voznesensky.

Since 2013, large-scale restoration and improvement works have been carried out in the museum and on its territory.


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