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The Pulse of Time – St. Petersburg from the 18th to the 19th centruries

The Lomonosov Museum, department of Peter the Great’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkammer), Consulate General of Switzerland in St. Petersburg

On display: July 10 - September 10, 2003

The exposition is an official present from Switzerland to St. Petersburg on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the city alongside the display "100 Swiss Clocks and Watches for St.Petersburg" and other joint art projects.

On December 19, 7208 since the "Creation of the World", or the Mundane Era of Constantinople, a Decree by Peter the Great was made public introducing beginning with January 1, 1700 a new unified mode of European chronology reckoned from the birth of Christ (P.X.). So clocks and later watches were introduced into St. Petersburg and Russia's life. The calendar reform conducted by Peter the Great was an important step on the path of transformation of Muscovy into Russia, signifying the acquisition by Russia of "the pulse of time" and its strife to a unified synchronized rhythm of life with Europe.

A particularly prominent role in shaping a new attitude to time in general and clocks and watches belonged to the Academy of Sciences, first and foremost to the Kunstkammer, built with the participation of a Swiss architect N.Gerbel. In this "Palace of Science" various academicians worked in the 18th century, Leonard Euler, Daniil and Nikolai Bernulli of Swiss origin, among others. An observatory in the Kunstkammer's Tower is associated with the appearance of theoretical astronomy, geodesy, geography, cartography and the chronology service. It is via this tower that the first St. Petersburg's meridian passed. Since 1735 at midday one started giving a light signal from the Tower to the Admiralty Building, where a gun was consequently fired to help St. Petersburg's residents orientate themselves in time.

In the 18th century there was the richest in the whole of Russia collection of clocks on display in the Kunstkammer, among them the first astronomical clock, numerous sun-dials - imported as well as manufactured in the Instrumental workshops of the Academy of Sciences in St.Petersburg.

Since the end of the 18th century when mass factory production of wrist watches began in Europe, first of all in France and Switzerland, they became articles of domestic utility. In the 19th century the firm of Pavel Burret opened its offices in Russia and «Tissot», «Moser» and others soon followed suit.

The exhibition is prepared by the Lomonosov Museum, a department of Peter the Great’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkammer), by the Central Military Maritime Museum, Metrological Museum of Gosstandard of Russia at the All-Russia Scientific Research Metrology Institute named after D.I.Mendeleev together with the Consulate General of Switzerland in St. Petersburg, the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Switzerland and the Association of Swiss Watchmakers participating.