In 1918 the Pokrovsky (Intercession of the Holly Virgin) Cathedral was the first to come under protection of the state as a monument of national and world importance, and since May 21, 1923, it was open for visitors as a historical and architectural museum. In 1928, the Pokrovsky Cathedral was officially merged into the State Historical Museum.
The SHM branch “Pokrovsky Cathedral” houses a collection ofold-Russian paintings and applied arts: metal works, fabrics, woodwork, manuscripts and early printed books.
The branch collection was started with objects of vestry and temple decoration, and also with icons saved by museum staff from churches ripped down to rubble in the 1920’s. Some of these items were acquired from the State Museum Found in the 1930’s.
The Museum’s collection was formed purposely for restoring the interior decorations of Pokrovsky Cathedral’s churches. The iconostases of four Cathedral’s churches dating to the 16th -17th centuries were restored. In five churches the entire iconostases of the 18th century were preserved. In the church of Saint Basil the Blessed the interior of the 19th century was completely restored.
Currently in the Cathedral there are over 300 works of old-Russian painting and applied arts. Most of icons decorate the iconostases of the Cathedral’s churches. Besides, in the church interiors there are represented such masterpieces of icon- painting as “The Vision of Sexton Tarasy” and “St. Alexander Nevsky with the scenes from his life” – both dating to the 17th century. In the ground-floor of the Cathedral there are also some exhibited icons: icon “St. Basil the Blessed” of the late-16th century inserted in the hagiographic frame of the 19th century, icon “The Mother of God of the Sign” dating to the 18th century and others.
The Collection of Manuscripts and Early Print Books of the 16th-19th centuriesconsists mostly of the Service books that belonged to the Pokrovsky Cathedral and works acquired by the “Pokrovsky Cathedral” museum staff in 1920’s. In the collection there is “Stepennaya Kniga” (or the Book of Generations) of 1588 listings where there are references of the Pokrovsky Cathedral construction.
Liturgical utensils and fabrics, items of the church everyday life compose thecollections of metal works, woodwork and textiles.They give the possibilities to restore better the cathedral interiors. The galleries are lighted with the mica lanterns of the 17th century, the churches – with chandeliers of the 16th-19th centuries. Iconostases with candlesticks in front of them are completed with wall hanging shrouds of the 17th century. The “Holy Mandylion” shroud of the 17th century, believed to have been embroidered by Prince D. Pozharsky’s daughters, is exhibited apart in the western church interior.
Continuous restoration of museum materials and research works with them allow the museum staff to write new pages in the history of the monument and to organize various exhibitions.