ST. PETERSBURG, June 16. /TASS/. St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg will continue to operate as a museum, its newly-appointed Director Yuri Mudrov said at his first meeting with employees.
"Let’s proceed from the premise that the museum is working. Should there be changes, we will proceed from the overall situation. Our task is to work properly and with dignity, to fulfill our obligations to receive visitors, to perform the museum’s educational and enlightenment functions, to preserve and restore the priceless cultural monuments - St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood," the museum’s press service quotes him as saying.
Mudrov added that an agreement on a partnership with the St. Petersburg Diocese, which makes it possible for the Russian Orthodox Church to hold religious services in the cathedral and also envisages joint work on educational projects, will carry on.
The Committee on Culture earlier announced that Mudrov had been appointed as the museum’s director. The position of St. Isaac Cathedral Museum director was vacant after Nikolay Burov who had led it since 2008 resigned voluntarily. Writer Irada Vovnenko who earlier worked as the museum’s deputy director had been the Acting Director of St. Isaac’s Cathedral Museum since May 31.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked about the transfer of the cathedral to the church during his annual televised Q&A session on Thursday. The head of state recalled that the cathedral had never been owned by the church and was state property. However, at that time the Tsar was also the head of the Church. Putin added that St. Isaac’s Cathedral had been built as a house of worship rather than as a museum. He also called for depoliticizing the issue and spoke out in favor of preserving the museum functions.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral was designed by French architect Auguste de Montferrand. The cathedral that was consecrated in the name of St Isaac of Dalmatia and took 40 years to build from 1818 all the way to 1858. Due to its extraordinary maintenance costs, it belonged to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Imperial Russia before the 1917 revolution.
The museum complex currently includes two world-famous St. Petersburg cathedrals - St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. The cathedral’s compound is owned by city authorities but it enjoys the protection of federal agencies, in addition, UNESCO placed it on the list of world heritage sites in 1986.
The Bolshevik authorities turned it into a museum in 1928. Later, church services on special occasions resumed there in 1990 and gradually became daily ones.
At the same time, about 3.9 million Russian and foreign tourists visited the cathedral in 2016.