ST. PETERSBURG – My university host said he preferred the Russian Museum to the Hermitage because it featured Russian art. It was a simple statement. He was clearly proud of his country’s artists.

Thanks to my father, I have seen a fantastic Van Gough exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art. My husband and I saw the Mona Lisa and other European treasures inside the Louvre. We also saw Michaelangelo’s epic David in Florence.

But I have never seen a major display of Russian artistic works. Out of respect to the country and due to my own curiosity, I chose the State Russian Museum over the Hermitage as my first museum visit in St. Petersburg.

And of course, Louie tagged along.
Louie looks at Russian art

I was fascinated by the evolution of Christian icons – from simple display of the Holy Trinity to more complex compositions covering several layers of saints and symbolism.

I also loved walking around the Gothic Musical Drawing-Room. According to my English audio guide (350 Roubles and TOTALLY worth it), Rubenstein, Liszt and other great piano players performed in this room. I tried imagining what it would be like to watch and listen to a performance in this grandly decorated room – with white marble columns and gold gilded corners glinting in the firelight.

My bear enjoyed staring at the Russian sculptures.

It was quite a site to walk around the stone tributes to Russia’s leaders, like Catherine II.

For my hubby, I had to snap a couple of shots of painting showcasing man’s best friend. Yes, I also miss my Daisy.

Looks like my poor bear needed a break from riding around in my bag. The Russian Museum was big, but manageable. I loved being able to linger by artworks without getting mowed down by tour group fresh off the cruise ship.

Museum replicas on the street
And if you want to a sample of what’s inside the Russian Museum, check out the painting replicas hanging on nearby buildings. For travelers on a budget, this could be their free art walk around the museum.

Facebook peeps and RSS readers – check out my blog link to see a photo slideshow of our museum trip.

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Kris Vera is bopping around Europe with the love of her life...and they just bought a new camera