10:27 GMT +323 March 2018
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    *The exhibition "Three Centuries of Russian Art" has opened at the Saratov Radishchev State Art Museum. Residents and guests of the city on the Volga have taken the opportunity to see masterpieces from the collection of the State Russian Museum, many of which have never before been displayed outside St Petersburg. The pieces on display include paintings by Borovikovsky, Kiprensky, Petrov-Vodkin, Malevich.

    The exposition's organisers have included works from the last three centuries that reflect the more vivid pages of Russian art in its main styles, genres and types. Prior to arriving in Saratov, the exhibition was shown to Nizhny Novgorod residents and as early as May it will open in Samara. Apart from that, with slight changes, the "Three Centuries of Russian Art" will also visit Petrozavodsk and Murmansk (north-western Russia) this year.

    The display from the Russian Museum's collection is part of the wide-ranging programme "Russia". Simultaneously with the exhibition, the information-education centre, "The Virtual World of the Russian Museum", opened at Saratov's State Social and Economic University. The unique advantages of virtual reality will make it possible to make masterpieces from the St Petersburg museum accessible to local residents.

    The "Russia" programme is designed to run for ten years. A series of visiting exhibitions of paintings from the collection of the State Russian Museum will be opened in art museums across Russia as part of this programme, which was launched in April 2003 in Moscow. Then, an exhibition, "I Love St Petersburg", which was dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the city on the Neva, opened in the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

    * The first theatrical festival "Directing is a Female Profession" has opened in St Petersburg.

    "One should greet the advent of spring with something kind and light, which is why the festival 'Directing is a Female Profession' is first of all, a holiday, a declaration of love for women-producers, women-managers and women-sponsors", believes Sergei Shub, the general director of the festival centre.

    All in all, about 30 "female" productions, both for children and adults, will be shown in the city's theatres during the festival. This will be a kind of a benefit performance by talented representatives of one of the most difficult theatrical professions. At the end of the festival, its participants will be awarded prizes in unusual nominations. For example, male directors want to award the prize "For Love for Actors', while the St Petersburg English Assembly will choose the most stylish production, and the World Club of the Residents of St Petersburg will judge how productions meet the requirements of the category "For St Petersburg Style".

    * The gold diadem presented to the granddaughter of great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin by her fiance Grand Duke Mikhail Romanov and that has temporarily returned to Russia is currently on display in the Hermitage Museum (St Petersburg). The exhibition in the Jewellery Gallery is open until March 14.

    The diadem left Russia over a hundred years ago. Then Russian Emperor Alexander III did not recognise the "misalliance" of Mikhail Romanov and Sophia Merenberg, which forced the Grand Duke and his young wife to leave the country. The newly-weds moved to Britain where Queen Victoria conferred the title of Countess de Thorby on Sophia Merenberg; since then, the gold diadem has belonged to this dynasty's family jewellery.

    The diadem was made of gold, silver, rubies and diamonds by the St Petersburg jewellery house, K.E. Bolin, in approximately 1890.

    Recently, the current owner of the diadem, Marchioness Sarah Milford-Haven decided to sell the family relic and, reluctant to sell it as a piece of ordinary jewellery, asked Russian businessman Artyom Tarasov for advice. He asked her to delay the sale, made a pledge for the diadem and delivered it from London to Moscow. He also requested the Russian government to render assistance in buying it so that the diadem could remain in Russia forever.

    Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Culture is cautious about the project to return the diadem to Russia. Officials believe that they should first identify where the diadem had been kept for the last century and how it might be returned to Russia.

    * The exhibition "Abode of the Sprit. Modern Japanese Art" has opened in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. The exposition includes over 70 works by 15 outstanding Japanese artists. "This is the first large-scale exhibition of modern Japanese art staged in Russia. Before Moscow, the exhibition enjoyed a successful run in the Ludwig Museum in Budapest," said a spokesman for the museum.

    * The Japanese cultural festival "Cherry Blossom-2004" has opened in Khabarovsk (Far East). Every day four films will be shown in each of the city's best cinemas. For the first time, Khabarovsk residents will be able to see films based on the works of Yukio Mishima, the classic of Japanese literature. The films "Sound of the Surf", "Sword" and "Flame", which are based on this author's novels and stories, are masterpieces of Japanese cinematography.

    A karaoke competition for Russian students of the Japanese language will also be held as part of the festival, which has been organised by the Japanese Consulate General. Apart from that, the Shigeyama company of the Japanese Kegen Theatre will stage a production in Khabarovsk.

    The Consulate General believes that the festival will produce an indelible impression on audiences and contribute to closer relations between Japan and the Russian Far East.

    * The exhibition "March Tomcats" has opened in the halls of the Stables Corps of the Yelaginoostrovsky Palace-Museum in St Petersburg. Modern artists are exhibiting their cat-inspired works for the fourth consecutive year.

    This year, about a dozen St Petersburg artists are taking part in the exhibition, including an 11-year-old. The exhibition's organisers have prepared a gift for the first visitor to identify the young artist's work.

    Not only tomcats, cats and kittens but also chairs, earrings, rings and necklaces in the shape of cats are represented at the exhibition. The organisers hope "a March cattish mood" will reign during the opening of the exhibition: music, including popular "cat hits", will be played in the halls, while the visitors will be allowed to behave "in accordance with this mood".

    Apart from all this, a feline fashion show will be held as part of the exhibition, as well as a discussion for historians, art critics and ordinary animal lovers to share their ideas about what these animals actually do in this first month of spring.

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