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The fountains are working again in the Pavilion Hall

Published 29 October 2019

On 28 October 2019, the marble fountains in the Pavilion Hall began working again after a lengthy interruption.

“For a long time these fountains were inoperative and it was considered not only impossible but also undesirable to restore them, that that would be very difficult and it was not a good thing to have water in the museum halls,” Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, said as he set them going. “Some time passed, and the climatologists and technicians said that everything can be done – evidently we find ourselves in some new technical and ecological phase. And here we are – in fairly short order our services have restored the four little fountains and now they are functioning. A few splendid engineering decisions have been taken. Two new reservoirs of water have been made and new filters. It all works, and the hall is acquiring the appearance that it had once, long ago, when there was an orangery, when the entire enfilade was a sort of image of a magical garden, which we are quietly re-creating.”

The Pavilion Hall of the Small Hermitage was created in 1856 by Andrei Stakenschneider (1802–1865) in place of a winter garden and adjoining rooms. In his design for the interior the architect combined features of various styles: elements of Moresque art, the architecture of the Renaissance and Classical Antiquity. The hall is made particularly striking by the combination of pale marble and gilded mouldings and the ornate sparkle of the crystal chandeliers. It is adorned by four fountains – variations of the “Fountain of Tears” at the Bakhchisarai Place in the Crimea. The fountains are made from white Carrara and coloured marble and embellished with carved seashells. The water entered the top bowl of each fountain and then descended in teardrops from level to level before reaching the marble basin below.

With time, badly purified water soiled and spoilt the marble bowls, leaving rusty patches, and during past restorations of the Pavilion Hall and other rooms in the Small Hermitage the pipework was partially dismantled. Individual metal elements became lost or deformed.

To put the fountains back in working order it was necessary to restore the marble portals and bowls that were chipped, had heavy surface soiling and destruction of the surface at the bottom of the basins, to restore the metal parts (drip spouts, taps and pipes) and to repair the engineering systems supplying water to the fountains.

In 2019, the Muzeinye Tekhnologii (“Museum Technologies”) company carried out the work of restoration and re-establishment of the water supply to the fountains. (The project documentation was drafted by OOO Beta-Kom.) All the marble and brass elements were restored, and the missing brass drip spouts re-created. Wooden inset cover strips were replaced with new ones made of white marble. Lost fragments of sculpture (a dolphin’s tail) were re-created. The pump chamber was refurbished. Work was carried out to repair the water supply and drainage systems. Two new pumping stations were created to supply water. One is located on the mezzanine level, the other on the ground floor of the Small Hermitage beneath the Pavilion Hall. A water purification system has been provided that includes coarse filtration of large particles, fine filtration and sterilization. Work has been carried out to repair the electricity supply and to automate the water drainage and delivery systems and control of the operation of the filters.