Discovering the Military Museum is not only wandering through various galleries in order to analyse successive wars. It is of course much more, but do you actually know that? Visiting the Royal Military Museum also is discovering the Russian Gallery!
This gallery, refurbished in 2001, testifies to the determination displayed by Russian officers – who had lost everything in the 1917 revolution – to safeguard evidence of the greatness of the tsar empire and the part played by Russia in the Great War in the heart of Europe. Admire the splendid souvenirs linked to the Pavlovsky regiments and the lancers of the Guard, to Marshal Mannerheim as President of Finland, to the imperial Navy and to the imperial Alexander College.
The Society of the Officers of the Regiment of the Cossacks of His Majesty transmitted an ensemble both complete and prestigious. In 1917 the unit tried to maintain its regimental museum, originally housed in its Saint Petersburg officers’ mess. The collection, packed in heavy crates, travelled to the south of Russia, was transferred to Yugoslavia after the Russian civil war and arrived in Brussels by 1936, after a stop-over in Paris. It counts tunics worn by all the tsars since Nicolas I, the regiment’s silver tableware and a unique collection of honorary trumpets, presented by Alexander I as a token of his appreciation for the part played by the regiment in the Battle of Leipzig (1813).
The unit was constituted by empress Catherine II in 1775 and the gallery gives a magnificent overview of the regiment’s uniforms over two centuries. Finally, some objects evoke the surprising story of the Belgian self-propelled guns in Russia (1915-1918) and of the Russian emigration in Belgium.