Delegatskaya st., 3.
Answerphone:+7(499) 973 32 19
Subscribe for excursion:+7(495) 609 01 46

The Dance of Palace Dolls


December 11, 2013 – January 26, 2014

Mechanical Musical Instruments and Dolls of the XIX–XX Centuries

from the Collection of David Yakobashvili

On December 11 the Dance of Palace Dolls exhibition opens, it will present the best collection of musical boxes and mechanical dolls owned by David Yakobashvili, the best in the contemporary global collecting practice. The display will feature artworks, exceptional in their aesthetical and technical solutions, demonstrating practically all types of mechanical music playing objects of the XIX–XX centuries, and a wide range of plots and topics behind them illustrates the history of the mechanical musical devices culture.

The doll is one of the most fascinating phenomena in the history of global culture. The dream to create a doll that could be brought to life, move and speak excited imagination in the course of millennia. The combination of a beautiful and expressive form, of sound and movement was so attractive that the first sound automata were already created in the time of antiquity, and the evolution of mechanics and the clock industry helped design and improve their mechanisms.

In XVIII–XIX centuries mechanical dolls or multi-figured composition emerged where every doll performed its own role. The mechanical dolls produced by the studios of Jaquet Droz, Vaucanson, Maillardet, Vichy and others imitated the plastics of live people, amazing and astounding viewers with the incredible resemblance of their movements. Dolls with porcelain faces and hands, dressed in expensive fabrics, with sophisticated mechanisms and musical devices in their frames or supports were not regarded as children toys, they provided entertainment for adults. Dolls depicted people engaged in some work: girls playing musical instruments; Africans smoking cigars; cooks making different dishes; dancing circus artists or musicians. By the end of XIX century dolls “learned” to speak: a miniature phonograph was put inside them for it. Now the doll could speak for quite a long time, and this brought stunning success.

Captivating forms, fine decoration, gentle and gracious movements, “live” sound of musical mechanical dolls and theaters – all this still fascinates viewers and collectors. So, in the course of the XX century, mechanics and artists did not only continue to create new models of doll automata, today they also successfully assemble models of doll automata using antique fabrics and lace, old parts and samples from the XIX–XX centuries, entertaining and amazing viewers.

The collection of David Mikhailovich Yakobashvili was formed in the course of many years, and it comprises unique works of Russian and world art. Every object from it has passed a complicated road of the restoration work of the highest professional quality. The history of the “musical mechanisms” collection is closely associated with Bille Lindvale, a famous collector who devoted his life to the collecting of old mechanical musical instruments and automata. In 2004, David Yakobashvili received a gift of more than 400 musical mechanical “entertaining automata”. This was the point that marked the start of a new history for his collection.

Christmas in the Osterman House Tour Program

From December 17 to January 19, the tour program titled Christmas in the Osterman House will be held at the museum. The visitors will learn how Christmas was celebrated at a noble’s estate of the XIX century, how the front room was decorated, and what dance opened the Christmas ball. The holiday voyage will continue through the museum exhibition halls. You will be able to see the collection of the famous Bogorodskoye toys, have a chance to bring the Bogorodskoye bear “to life”. You’ll meet the characters of Russian folk tales produced in the media of lacquer miniature by the famous Palekh artists. And in conclusion you’ll see clockwork dolls and musical mechanisms at the Dance of Palace Dolls show from the collection of D. Yakobashvili.