Museum building history
The history of the Museum building is uncommon and, in many respects, complicated. Erected in 1842 – 43 from designs by Zakhar Krasnopevkov, it was originally the Police Station and Registry (Syezzhiy dom) of the Second Admiralty District. This type of administrative buildings had formed by the 1830s, combining the functions of a police department and a fire brigade. Its design is based on the closed rectangle of the courtyard divided equally between the two services. The prison-cell part of the Police Station was normally used for the confinement of the ‘lower classes’.
The building housed the police department until the end of the 19th century, then, after the renovation and expansion, designed and supervised by the engineer-architect Anton Fialkovsky and, later on, by the architect Alexander Maximov, one part of the building, overlooking the Catherine (now Griboyedov) Canal was used for keeping the police archives, while the other one, connected with Officer (now Decembrists’) Street, accommodated the criminal investigation police. It is in this part that the first Russian Museum of Investigation Police was created at the beginning of the twentieth century. Its ‘peaceful’ period ended in 1917; the police archives were destroyed and the building was burnt down. Later on, the interiors of this and other houses in Officer Street became converted into communal flats for workers’ families. Nowadays, it is an apartment building.
The part overlooking the Canal was renovated after the 1917 fire to accommodate, in 1920, the Provincial Archive Bureau; in 1929, it was transformed into Leningrad Archives of the Bolshevik Party. During WWII, the archives were in Chelyabinsk, until 1944, when, returned from evacuation, the archives moved to a new location in Smolny Street. The owner of the building was now map-making typography; it occupied the building on the Canal until 1998, to be replaced by the Archives of the City Court. In 2007, Art invaded a part of the premises laden with grim memories. The Smaller Hall of the Manège Central Exhibition Hall was opened in the building. The energetic festivity of modern art filled the space. For both organizations sharing the building the vicinage was inconvenient enough. So, the Archives preferred to relocate; the process lasted until 2015. The Museum of St. Petersburg Art (20th and 21st centuries) began to explore the premises, room after room, bringing into them the dynamic atmosphere of modern culture.