On Tuesday, July 17, an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Tsar Nicholas II and his family opened at the Russian History Museum on the grounds of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.
On the night of July 17, 1918, Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their five children, and four loyal attendants were led to the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, Siberia. There they were brutally murdered by their Bolshevik captors. "Last Days of the Last Tsar" narrates the events leading up to this grim finale and portrays the family whose life and tragic fate have fascinated the world for a century. This is the first exhibition in North America dedicated exclusively to the final months of Nicholas II and his family.
The exhibit follows the royal family from the opulence of the imperial court to the increasing austerity and confinement under house arrest and in exile. Beginning with Nicholas’ magnificent coronation, the exhibition depicts the Romanov dynasty at the turn of the 20th century and offers a glimpse into the life of the Tsar’s close-knit family. It goes on to present a chain of somber and fateful events: the outbreak of World War I, the upheaval of the February Revolution, and Nicholas’s abdication. The family’s time in the Alexander Palace under house arrest, their exile in Siberia, and, finally, their death are illustrated by objects and materials that they took with them and were recovered during the investigation of their murder. While the family’s quality of life deteriorated and material possessions steadily diminished, their ideals and core values of faith, family, and service to the fatherland remained constant until the end. The exhibition concludes with the murder’s aftermath and the memorialization of these historic events.
Drawn from the rich museum, archival, and library collections of the Russian History Foundation, the exhibition highlights the unique objects and documents collected by Nikolai Sokolov during the 1918-1919 investigation of the royal family’s murder. The Foundation’s artifacts are supplemented by loans from a dozen U.S. collections, which range from splendid coronation gifts and luxurious objets d’art by Fabergé to modest personal effects found during Sokolov’s investigation. After being dispersed for a century, these objects are brought together, many of them displayed for the first time. The exhibition is also the first to publicly present recent findings of a DNA analysis conducted by the FBI that shed light upon the ongoing investigation into the identification of the remains of Nicholas II, his family, and their faithful attendants.
At the opening ceremony, the Russian History Museum’s Executive Director Michael Perekrestov addressed gathered donors, sponsors, and collectors who had loaned items to the exhibit, sharing his lifelong interest in Russian history and the life of the Holy Passionbearer Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. Perekrestov thanked everyone for their support. Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), rector of Holy Trinity Monastery, also addressed those gathered, underscoring the importance of sharing Russian history and the lives of the Royal Martyrs not only with a broader American audience, but also reminding Russians both in the Diaspora and in the Homeland of the pious life and martyric death of the last Russian emperor and his family.