Russia and America: 300 Years Through Books, Maps, and Documents
The exhibition presents the main development stages of humanitarian contacts between Russia and America.
The initial stage of the contacts was notable for Russia's appearance on the ocean, sparking interest in America, searching for the eastern route to America, and intention to prove existence of the "Strait of Anian" between Asia and America.
The second stage was prominent by the contribution of the Russian explorers, seafarers and researchers to the world's geographic explorations and the state protectionism related to developing of new lands. It is the epoch of the Russian round-the world expeditions.
The third stage was distinguished by geopolitical phenomenon known as Russian America. The Russian researchers continuously and systematically explored natural resources, physical geography of North America, and studied culture of the native inhabitants.
The fourth stage covers the period from 1867 (sale of Alaska) through the middle of the XX century. Academic contacts had been maintained between the Smithsonian Institution and the Russian Academy of Sciences as well as the fundamental culture exchange and humanitarian cooperation had been strengthened.
The exhibition impulses to compare historical development of two supercountries taking into account ethno-cultural distinctness, their geopolitical influence. A number of distinctives of the Russian and American civilization turned to be similar. Both states under the process of becoming civilization phenomena of the Modern Time were associated with exploration: Eurasia (Russia) and America (the USA), American colonists' advancing westwards and Russian settlers' - eastwards. Both Russia and America were vast melting pots, where the native inhabitants and "invaders" turned into the Russians and Americans. Neighborhood of different ethnoses stimulated development of distinctive features of both American and Russian culture.
The exhibition shows that humanitarian components of the Russian and American contacts have allowed to establish and maintain academic and cultural contacts over 300 years regardless political barriers. It is owing to the humanitarian orientation that academic contacts significantly influenced historical events of the Modern and Contemporary History, contributing greatly into cooperation and peace of the two great countries.
The exhibition and the catalogue would have been impossible without initiative support of the Consulate General of the USA in St.Petersburg.