The Peter the Great Museum in Derbent was founded in 2015. The Ziyavudin Magomedov PERI Charitable Foundation provided the funding to excavate the dug-out dwelling where Peter the Great stayed while he was in Derbent and to recreate the colonnade erected over the dug-out in the 19th century. Since then, the PERI Foundation together with the Derbent State Museum and Conservancy have steadily broadened the scope of the museum by instituting a series of new programmes.
Peter the Great’s ambition to foster cultural and educational innovation is being continued by the PERI Foundation as it creates within the museum a new centre that will consolidate the intellectual and cultural life of Derbent and Dagestan. The Peter the Great Museum will be a place where new ways of thinking, new strategies for living, and new approaches to our heritage will be compiled, studied, and disseminated.
The current set of programmes at the Peter the Great Museum fall into two groups:
- Understanding the realities of our time
This consists of meetings, lectures and master classes to introduce “innovative technologies for thought”.
In 2016 the Cinema and the People programme was launched. Every week a different guest expert shows the public his favourite film and leads a discussion of it. The programme’s guest experts have included film and theatre professionals, historians, philosophers, and religious authorities.
A new venture in this group of activities is Keys to Derbent set to start in October. Participants at this school will be students from both primary and secondary forms who will investigate Derbent under the tutelage of urbanists and archaeologists. The school is designed to show Derbent’s young residents various ways to look at the world and their hometown and to express their thoughts. The school will acquaint young people with the diverse languages of the arts and encourage them to apply the knowledge they acquire in other areas, for example, as artists, photographers or journalists.
- Understanding history
The museum offers a series of educational programmes, museum-based lessons, and master classes in which participants analyze the most significant passages in the country’s history.
In the spirit of examining things together rather than delivering fixed truths, these projects are as interactive as possible. One such project was the exhibition Soul of a Witness: World War II as Seen through the Eyes of Effendi Kapiev and Nikolai Lakov. This presentation was one of the first attempts in Dagestan to understand war not as a string of happenings, but rather as a series of inward experiences, a succession of tormenting questions and choices that confronted those at the front. Artist Nikolai Lakov’s graphic works fashioned on the battlefield and fragments from poet Effendi Kapiev’s wartime diary were juxtaposed in several groups to suggest issues that visitors to the exhibition might consider.
The museum has also launched a series of specialized classes for children of various ages. Upcoming events include the opening of an exhibition about Imam Shamil, and an exhibition and quest about life during Peter the Great’s reforms.