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Palace in Bloom is our new year-long project aiming to return to the Alexander Palace the feeling of home and family warmth it had as the residence of the last emperor of Russia.

From 27th September 2023 through August 2024, twelve series of flower and plant arrangements created by modern designers and florists in collaboration with the Museum will be succeeding each other every month in the former private rooms of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Fiodorovna. The arrangements will include hydrangeas (hortensias), chrysanthemums, forsythias, camellias, artichokes and others.

Supervised by Maxim Languev, a St Petersburg designer and florist, the first arrangements have graced Alexandra's Maple and Palisander Drawing Rooms and Nicholas' State Study and Reception Room. The main element is the hydrangea, inspired by a 1917 Autochrome by photographer Andrei Zeest showing a vase with a hortensia flower in the Palisander Drawing Room just a few hours after the imperial family left for exile. The florists' also used autumn flowers and plants, such as rose hips, cereal grasses, and branches of Malus pumila paradisiaca (Paradise Apple).

All the present and future arrangements are tied to the history of the Tsarskoe Selo imperial residence, the tastes of its crowned owners, and the life of Nicholas II and his family at the Alexander Palace. The sources of inspiration include: historical events (Nicholas' Eastern journey as Grand Duke and Tsesarevich [crown prince] in 1890-91; his engagement and marriage to Alix; the imperial family's stays in Livadia), decorative vegetal motifs in the palace interiors (symbolic lilies, floral patters in furniture upholstery and wall reliefs), objects from the Museum's collection (cloisonné vases, Venetian glassware, incense burners), and documentary materials (photographs, Autochromes, paintings).

A trial series of souvenirs inspired by this project will be produced after a design competition run by HSE University (the National Research University 'Higher School of Economics') and the Young Design Contest.