Culture in Russia
Libraries & Museums
Russia has over 50,000 state public libraries (39,000 of these rural) in total possession of over a billion books, and the stock is steadily growing. Every general-educational school and the majority of offices and large factories have libraries of their own.
Close to 1,500 museums cover practically all fields of knowledge-historical , ethnographic, memorial, of folk crafts, fine and applied arts, theatre, music, natural sciences, technology, and many others. Museums-reserves have lately come into the foreground. Twenty open-air ethnographic museums present folk architecture, arts and everyday life. All museum collections, with a total exceeding fifty million items of historical, scientific and artistic value, comprise Russia's invaluable museum fund, its precious national treasure.
Theater & Art
The reforms removed all fetters from the stage. Despite all the problems of contemporary Russian life, the number of theatres is growing. Up to fifty new companies have appeared in 1993-1994. All told, Russia has 413 companies, with drama accounting for over half. Since 1989 local budgets have financed theatres to encourage provincial theatre. There are 31 languages of acting in our multi-ethnic country. Some ethnic companies are top-notch, and worthy rivals of Moscow theatres.
In 1974, a team of Moscow artists opposing officially encouraged practices for the first time threw a public challenge to the powers-that-be with an impromptu shaw on a strip of waste land in Belyaevo, a distant suburb. The police literally razed it to the ground with orders to bulldoze the pictures. Later, some non-conformistworks found their way abroad.
Things have now changed beyond recognition. The new Artists' Union Charter, adopted in 1993, proclaims freedom of creativity, high professionalism and humane goals among its basic principles. The union arranges exhibitions for its 13,000 members, and helps them with Picture sales in its many salons. Private galleries are also burgeoning throughout the country. Moscow alone has over a hundred.
Today, folk art in Russia survives in two basic forms - handicrafts practiced on a broad scale and works of art created by gifted persons working at home. Articles fashioned from marble, glass, ceramics, metal, or ornamental textiles have really become part of our lives, adding a touch of beauty and hannony to our daily existence.
The most popular handicrafts in present-day Russia are: wood carving and painting (Bogorodskoe, Khotkovo, Abramtsevo-Kudrino)- the Golden Khokhloma; artistic ceramics (Gzhel); clay toys (Dymkovo, Kargopol, Filimonovo, Abashevo); acquer painting (Fedoskino, Palekh, Mstera, Kholui); decorative tray painting (Zhostovo, Troitskoe); artistic metalworking (Veliky Ustiug silver, Rostov enamel, Kazakovo filigree)- bone carving (Kholmogoli, Tobolsk, Chukotka, Khotkovo); artistic stone working (Tyva carved sculpture)- lace making (Vologda, Vyatka, Yelets) - embroidery, golden thread needlework, pattern weaving and rug making. Whatever kind of folk art is looked at, it reflects the richness and diversity of the nation's soul and the splendor of the works crafted by its hands.