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Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825
1453 Through the Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) The Time of Troubles to the First Romanovs (1598-1682) Peter the Great and His Legacy (1682-1762) The Age of Catherine the Great (1762-1801) The Reign of Emperor Alexander I (1801-1825)
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The exhibition Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825 began life as a sketch in a notebook in 1999. At that time, it was conceived as a Slavic and east European "treasures" show. This would have been by far the easiest kind of show to organize, because one needs no "connective tissue" or common themes for such a show. After some reflection, the curators decided that a thematic structure was desirable. The exhibition then evolved into "Between the Greats: From Peter to Catherine," the working title for a Planning Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, received in the spring of 2001.

However, the more the curators delved into the project, the more they felt that narrowing the focus to the 18th century was a great disservice to the Library's rich holdings a collection with few peers on this side of the Atlantic. Also, it was decided that this exhibition should not be purely "Russian," but should instead demonstrate Russia's progress from geographical and cultural isolation to multifaceted engagement with the world. The curators wanted the rest of the "world" to be part of this exhibition as well, contextualizing developments as they unfolded in Russia.