Not in vain do people call St. Petersburg the cultural capital of Russia; beyond its huge number of rivers and canals (94), St. Petersburg also sports an insane number of museums (over 200 in total) covering topics ranging from the history of medicine and military history to the history of the St. Petersburg`s metro and Soviet arcade games. Saint Petersburg`s museums are incredibly popular amongst residents and guests of the city alike and nothing makes this popularity clearer than Ночь Музеев (Long Night of Museums).
Long Night of Museums is an international event held in many different cities around the world, St. Petersburg included. On this night museums which decide to take part in the event stay open all night long. Participating museums not only offer visitors a unique chance to visit after hours, but also put on a variety of special one-time exhibitions on a particular theme, which changes each year. This year Long Night of Museums falls on the night of May 19th-20th and the topic will be “Metamorphosis”. Furthermore, over 117 cultural institutions in the city and its surrounding environs are already listed as taking part. Some museums will only put on an evening programme, working from 18:00 to 23:00, whilst others will work the whole night through from 18:00 on May 19th till 06:00 on May 20th.
A full list of the different Museums taking part can be found at www.artnight.ru (or www.artnight.ru/en if you`d prefer to read in English), but here are a few highlights.
• The Artillery Museum near to the Peter and Paul Fortress will be hosting a medieval knightly tournament.
• The Library on Ligovsky Prospekt will play host to a “dark” interactive installation based on Franz Kafka`s “Metamorphosis”.
• The Large Hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic will stage 12 back-to-back concerts in different musical styles, including tango, jazz and classical.
• The All Russia Pushkin Museum will feature an exhibition on Pushkin`s St. Petersburg, detailing how the city has changed since Pushkin`s death.
• The Historical Wharf “Poltava” will be showcasing a ship built according to plans designed by Peter the Great.
• The Museum of Interactive Science “Labirint-Um” will have an interactive exhibition focusing on how spoken and written Russian has changed since the 17th Century.
• The Kirov Museum`s will contribute an exhibition entitled “To Completely Remake Man!” explaining attempts reform culture in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution.
During Long Night of Museums you can gain entrance to any and all participating museums using a single единый билет (Universal Ticket). This costs 400 rubles and can already be bought from participating museums and ticket offices around the city. Should you forget to buy in advance, tickets will still be available up until 18:00 on May 19th itself. Should you wish to visit just one museum, it will be possible to buy individual tickets as normal from within the museums themselves. Beware queues however; even if you buy a universal ticket in advance the most popular museums attract a lot of people very quickly, meaning long waits for you. To avoid this, try making a list of the museums you want to visit (there`s a tool on the artnight.ru website to help you with this) and make sure you visit the ones you are most interested in first.
At this point you might be wondering, “it`s all well and good that the museums are open till 6am but how am I going to get around the city at that time?”. Worry not my friend, Saint Petersburg`s metro and bus drivers have you covered. The metro will stay open through the night between May 19th and 20th, whilst a series of special busses between the major museums will run from 23:00 until 06:00. Best of all these special museum busses will be free for those with universal tickets. Don`t worry about getting hungry either. The central areas of the city, where many of the participating museums are located, have plenty of 24 hour restaurants and cafes (You can find of list of such restaurants here: https://www.restoclub.ru/spb/search/restorany-peterburga-rabotajushhie-kruglosutochno).
Half the fun of Long Night of Museums is the atmosphere that pervades the city. So if you want to get a true feel for St. Petersburg`s cultural life and visit a bunch of exclusive exhibits and events to boot, then make sure you get out on May 19th.
(To all students thinking of traveling to Novgorod on May 19th 2018. Don`t worry about missing out on all the Museums; your train will arrive back in St. Petersburg at 21:00 so you`ll have plenty of to see the museums. What`s more, your train arrives at Moskovskii train station so you`ll be close to many of the main sights.)