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"The Arms Collection of the Gatchina Palace" returned to the Armor Gallery

The permanent exhibition "The Arms Collection of the Gatchina Palace" previously located on the ground floor of the Main Building and focusing on one of Russia's most valuable collections of hunting firearms was transferred back to its original location – the Armor Gallery.

The Gallery housed the Gatchina arsenal, as the arms collection is often referred to, from 1823. It was semicircular in layout, with eight windows overlooking the parade ground. The weapons were fixed on oak panels that covered the walls – the rifles were arranged as circles, lines or stars, while the pistols formed a striking pattern, that of Paul I's monogram. The Cyrillic letter "П" was composed of 83 pistols, the crown above it was made up of 19 pistols and 6 pistols were used to depict the Arabic figure of I. Another 94 pistols were arranged in two rows framing the monogram on the sides and below suggesting laurels. In addition to arms, the gallery was also used to store a variety of hunting gear and military accoutrements – Count Orlov's traps, cuirasses of His Majesty's Cuirassier Guards Regiment that was stationed in Gatchina and soldiers' uniforms of the Gatchina Troops of Grand Duke Pavel Alexandrovich. The gallery retained its original appearance up to 1946. At the outbreak of World War II, the museum’s employees were able to evacuate all the firearms from the Armory Gallery and when the palace reopened as a museum in the postwar period, the entire collection, with the exception of 25 items, was returned to Gatchina. The Palace's arms collection now comprises 1,150 exhibits; a smaller part of the collection representing its most valuable items is on display.

Unfortunately, the interior decoration of the Gallery, like that of many other rooms in the Gatchina Palace, was destroyed in the fire of 1944 and has not yet been restored. However, a variety of available images such as How's watercolors, prewar photographs and accounts of the palace make it possible to recapture the lost décor. Many of these are available on display in the current exhibition, which has an improved design with numerous historical connections. The return of the exhibition to the Armor Gallery is seen as a tribute to historic events and an expectation for the prompt revival of the former grandeur of the imperial residence.

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