Life stories in objects: “Metaforma” presents a new project – an exhibition dedicated to Pavel I

15.06.2021 #gatchinapalace#victoriatarasova


On 26 March, the Gatchina Palace (Leningrad region) opened an exhibition dedicated to the 220th anniversary of the death of Pavel I: “Service to God and the Fatherland”. The series of exhibitions dedicated to the great emperor consists of four exhibitions.

It will run until February 2022.

The scenography part was curated by Viktoria Tarasova, creative director of the “Metforma” Bureau of Museum Scenography.

The narrative of each exhibition is built around an object that symbolically identifies its owner and is a “mute witness” to the stories and events of his life. The objects demonstrate the multifaceted nature of Pavel I.

The series started with the exhibition “Service to God and the Fatherland. Uniform”. 11 (24) March is a Memorial Day for the death of Pavel Petrovich. The uniform was kept with his belongings, which on the night of the murder were in his bedroom in the Mikhailovsky Palace. This is the uniform of an officer of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, whose chief was Pavel I. It is specially decorated with the distinctive imperial insignia of the Order of St Andrew.

Pavel I was crowned in a similar uniform, thus establishing a tradition for all subsequent Russian emperors that lasted until 1917.

At the bequest of Empress Maria Feodorovna the uniform was given to Constantine Pavlovich and after his death in 1833, together with his bed, jackboots and other personal effects of the Emperor, it was taken to the Gatchina Palace and placed in the Oval Office of Pavel I, where it remained until 1941.


The creative team at the “Metaforma” Bureau of Museum Scenography chose a novel method of constructing each exhibition as part of a whole. The dominant subject in the narrative series of a particular exhibition is organically woven into the subjects of the other exhibitions in the series, referring to each other. A unified visual image is created, which is also quite malleable and modifiable for each of them. This approach helps bring us closer to understanding the contradictory personality of Pavel I.

According to Viktoria Tarasova, “Approaches to creating an exhibition of a single object can be very different, but what they have in common is that even a single object can convey multiple meanings, reveal multiple plots. In the case of a series of exhibitions, it became important to give each object a voice in its own right and, at the same time, form a unifying element, reflected in the approach to the scenography of all the exhibitions. The personality of Pavel I is multifaceted, and the objects selected by the museum’s curators can reflect these facets – you just have to give them that opportunity. This opportunity is provided through an approach universal to all exhibitions, where the scenography is built on a combination of three ‘layers’ of narrative and space: subject – event – protagonist”.

We would like to believe that through the comprehensive approach of museum scenography we have been able to more fully reveal the personality of Pavel I and his life path through an object that is undoubtedly linked to individual choices, actions and decisions.

261 national and regional media representatives were invited to the opening. Project participants gave interviews and shared details of its implementation.

And here are the strengths of this project — our team. Some, however, have been left out of the picture – but that’s only because they are so busy working. Together we are more than just strength – together we are labour, determination, creativity and strategy. Only the unity of minds and hands, their concentration helps to achieve success!


We would also like to thank our partner Epson for providing the equipment to demonstrate the additional visuals.

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      Заявка на разработку проекта Давайте вместе сделаем ещё один замечательный проект!