3 September 2012

Address by H.E. Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO

Dear Mr Assistant Director-General, Dear Madam Director of the Pushkin Museum Irina Antonova, Dear Mr Ambassador of the Russian Federation to France, Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, It is a great honor and pleasure for me on behalf of the Russian Federation to welcome all of you at the opening-ceremony of the exhibition “100 years at the Service of Art and International Cooperation”. As you are may be aware, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow celebrated one hundred years Anniversary of its foundation at the end of May this year. During all this years this great Museum has become one of the major cultural institutions in my country and has received recognition as important international scientific and cultural center as well. International experts and guests rightly call its unique collection as Russia treasury of world arts. That is why we highly appreciated the decision of UNESCO General Conference to include this Jubilee of Pushkin Museum on the list of the most important events of world in this year. And we consider it as the international recognition of the achievements of the Museums leadership and personnel. Many times UNESCO Member-States warmly welcomed the best Russian museums and famous artists at these lovely Paris HQs. And tonight we are delighted to continue further with this good tradition by presenting the history of Pushkin Museum and its magnificent collection of the world arts heritage, and some excellent examples of international culture exchange presented at Museum premises and the involvement of the prominent art and culture representatives in this activities. And of course our exposition includes unique photos and documents from the archives of the Pushkin Museum. The Pushkin Museum can compare with other great world museums. Since its creation in 1912 the number of museums objects has increased by dozens of times and nowadays the collection includes around 700 thousands. We think this is a good reason for the colleagues present here to visit this very Museum when you are staying in Moscow. The Pushkin Museum comprises all kinds of fine arts. Music and poetry can be often heard under the Museum’s dome. Especially I would like to draw your attention to the festival "The December Nights" - a remarkable arts festival held annually since 1981. The excellent idea to combine the visual arts and music in a single space and time belongs to the Director of this Museum Madam Irina Antonova and prominent Russian musician Mr. Svyatoslav Richter. The Museum successfully fulfills one of its most important missions to educate children and young people not only to feel the sense of beauty, but also to form their consciousness in the spirit of tolerance and intercultural dialogue promoted by UNESCO. The Museum also successfully fulfills the great task to unite the cultural community - artists, collectors and art lovers, reminding of the paramount importance of the museum's heritage in the context of the world history. The representatives of the many world leading museums have participated at the end of this May in the official celebrations in Moscow and they have expressed the deepest respect to the achievements of Pushkin Museum. Tonight the Pushkin Museum headed by its Director in more than fifty years, one of the greatest curators Irina Antonova has the opportunity to meet the international museum community represented at UNESCO. Despite of its “solid history” the Pushkin Museum demonstrates all the features of a modern, dynamic and permanently growing institution ready for daring experiments and innovative solutions. And it is Director Irina Antonova who has been the main driving force behind all progress this Museum attained in the many years. It was her who brought to Moscow for the first time treasures of the largest galleries in the world: the Louvre, the Prado and the Metropolitan, and in the 70's she introduced Andy Warhol to Soviet audiences. So she should the first one to receive our congratulations on Jubilee today. Madam Antonova is an example of creative longevity, energy and desire to make the museum world even better which encourages the colleagues around to create great projects. Through her enthusiasm, courage and active international contacts the Pushkin Museum has organized many exceptional arts exhibitions, which any museum in the world would be proud to exhibit. In the Soviet times, Irina Antonova played an extraordinary role in preserving for the own citizens those of Russian cultural treasuries, which due to ideological reasons were condemned to oblivion. Her friendship with the Russian prominent culture representatives thru many years was absolutely equal one and this bore wonderful and extremely precious fruits for the national culture life even in the most difficult periods. Under her strong leadership the Museum carried out the general reorganization of its permanent exhibition in 1974 and 2008. Now Irina Alexandrovna has initiated and is heading a working group which develops the concept of a new museum functioning, called also as "museum town". This was a dream of Mr. Ivan Tsvetaev, the founder of the Museum. Of course, we can say that perfection does not leave any room for improvement. The Pushkin Museum, with its excellent reputation and unique collection, is one of the ten museums which we consider to be as the best in the world. On the other hand we are sure that UNESCO international experience could be very helpful in implementation of the prospective plans of Pushkin Museum. The merits of Madam Antonova are highly appreciated. She is the Academician of the Russian Academy of Education, the Russian Academy of Arts, the Honorary Doctor of the State Humanitarian University and the Honored Arts worker of the Russian Federation. She has been awarded with numerous national orders. And what I think is especially important to mention at this ceremony that Irina Alexandrovna is Commandeur of Ordre National du Merite of the French Republic and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. Madam Antonova is well known in UNESCO. She was a vice-president of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 12 years, and in 1992 she became its honorary member. Finally, I would like to thank the Director Irina Antonova and the other representatives of the Pushkin Museum for this remarkable exhibition, for all the efforts to preserve the world's cultural heritage, and also the UNESCO Secretariat for assistance in organizing the exhibition, which we do hope will remain in your memories for a quite of time. Thank you for your attention and enjoy the exhibition.