On 12 October 2023, the ceremonial opening of the exhibition “The Kremlin Legends: Russian Romanticism and the Armoury Chamber” took place at the Moscow Kremlin Museums. The display is dedicated to myths and legend surrounding the collection of the Armoury Chamber at the beginning of the 19th century, a period of understanding the national history. The project shows how fiction and reality are intertwined in the history of unique monuments from the Kremlin collection.

Legends have surrounded pieses from the Royal Treasury for centuries: the legend of the gifts allegedly sent by the Byzantine Emperor to Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh was particularly enduring. But it was only at the beginning of the 19th century that lovers of antiquities reinterpreted these legends and, in a burst of creativity, created new myths. The Armoury, founded as a museum by Emperor Alexander I in 1806, laid the basis for studying the museum's collection. At the same time, many objects were given fictitious attributions that emphasised their connection with famous Russian rulers and other prominent personalities.

Among the participants of the opening ceremony was the Special Representative of the Russian President for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Moscow Kremlin Museums Sergei Ivanov, Special Representative of the Russian President for International Cultural Cooperation and Ambassador for Special Missions of the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Shvydkoy, Director of the Department of the Museums and External Relations of the Russian Ministry of Culture Elena Kharlamova, and Director General of the Moscow Kremlin Museums Elena Gagarina.

"The exhibition is a vivid representation of our glorious history. The fact that interest in national history has been growing recently is a welcome feature, as knowledge of history allows for a better understanding of the present. It is a symbol and a link between generations," Sergei Ivanov said.

"A real sense of time opens up for European and Russian consciousness in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. History becomes a subject of passion, fantasy and fiction, a place where people try to conceptualise themselves, to understand their time, their past. This exhibition is an absolutely wonderful phenomenon that shows that life is full of incredible fantasies and adventures," Mikhail Shvydkoy added.

The Director of the Department of the Museums and External Relations of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation Elena Kharlamova read the address of welcome from the Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova: "It's indeed an extraordinary show, whose philosophy appeals to Russian history and the growing patriotic spirit after the Patriotic War of 1812. The exhibition is being organised with the participation of such museums as the Russian, the Historical, the Peterhof, the Tsarskoye Selo and other leading national museums. It is also deeply symbolic that it is taking place within the walls of the Moscow Kremlin, in the very heart of Russia, which for millions of people from all over the country embodies its supreme power, cultural richness and spiritual roots".

"This exposition is about the period of our history when many legends were created about the masterpieces kept in the Armoury Chamber, when the Russian national self-consciousness was growing. The objects preserved in the Armoury Chamber were given new meanings and new, often romantic, attributions. This exhibition is about the remarkable and irrepressible imagination of the Russian people, about their love for their own history and its heroic past," Elena Gagarina noted.

She also read out the greetings of the Chairman of the Russian Historical Society Sergei Naryshkin: "The story of the legends connected with the first exhibits of the Moscow Kremlin will attract great attention and remind of the importance of cultural and historical heritage in the process of formation and strengthening of national self-consciousness".

The Kremlin Legends: Russian Romanticism and the Armoury Chamber exhibition is on until 14 January 2024 in the exhibition halls of the Patriarch’s Palace and Assumption Belfry.