“The leg was swollen twice”: the monument to Minin and Pozharsky began to be restored

Monument on Red Square is in disrepair

The monument to Minin and Pozharsky is in disrepair – the sculpture urgently needs to be “treated”. And it’s not just the external corrosion of the sculpture, which gives the bronze a swampy hue. The main problem is corrosion inside the figures, due to which the inner lining has already been torn in some places, cracks have appeared on the monument, and Pozharsky’s leg has even “swollen”. Restoration has begun – now archaeological work is underway around the first metropolitan monument (erected in 1818), and in October the sculpture itself will be properly taken care of. What is to be done and how Minin and Pozharsky will appear after the restoration, which will be completed by 2022, was learned by MK.

The monument to Minin and Pozharsky is fenced off with a blank fence. Now inaccessible to tourists, a small patch around the monument was occupied by archaeologists. With the help of small shovels and brushes, the researchers carefully clean the historic paving of the early 19th century. It was this kind of masonry that covered Red Square in 1818, when a monument to Minin and Pozharsky was erected here – the first monument in Moscow. True, then he stood in a different place – opposite the modern GUM, and only in 1931, during the reconstruction of the square, he moved to the point we are used to near the Intercession Cathedral. Just in 1931, the square was re-paved. At about the same time, several cathedrals and chambers of the Kremlin were dismantled by order of the Bolsheviks, and some of the ancient white stones from which they were built were used to strengthen the pedestal of the monument to Minin and Pozharsky.

– We found here elements of cornices in the classical style – with Ionic (egg-shaped ornament – MM) and teeth of the 15th-14th centuries, dating back to the times when the Italians were building the Kremlin. This is definitely a medieval carving. There is work to be done to study these elements, but they will certainly become museum exhibits, – says the head. Department of Archeology of Moscow Russia of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences Leonid Belyaev. – The paving stones are even more interesting. We knew that it lies under the current paving; this masonry can be seen on engravings and photos of the 19th and early 20th centuries. But we have never been able to open such a large area and see the drawing of a stone “parquet”. The square was paved with “wild” stone, that is, ordinary cobblestones, in squares. Until now, we have not seen a single square in its entirety.

The opened cultural layer is examined, preserved (that is, covered with special solutions) and museumified right here – in the open air. And in a year, everyone will be able to see what the paving stones of Red Square were like 100-200 years ago. Otherwise, after the restoration, everything will be the same, only better, promises the director of the Historical Museum Alexei Levykin.







– We are doing restoration because it is necessary. Fundamentally, nothing will change, – says Levykin. – After restoration, the monument will be covered with a patina to give it a normal color – so it will not look like a remake and will not shine in the sun. The bronze will take on the same color as it was when it was created. Patina is also essential for corrosion protection. The pedestal will remain the same. Let’s make a highlight with an accent color. This is a renovation.

The monument will have a difficult treatment, but the “patient” has very serious problems. The deformation process has gone quite far. Corrosion damaged the internal frameworks of the figures and the molding mass, which fills the monument from the inside by half (up to Pozharsky’s waist and up to Minin’s knee).

– The black metal, from which the frame of the figures is made, changes its geometric dimensions during corrosion – it can increase fourfold. The stress is so great that it can break the sheath of the copper alloy. Like ice breaks a bottle. Because of this, Pozharsky’s leg “swelled” 2.5 times, – explains the chief architect of the restoration project Alexei Zhdanov.

It was possible to determine all this by examining the sculpture from the inside. For these purposes, there is a hatch in the monument – it is at Pozharsky’s helmet, which is located behind the back of the hero-militia. By the way, the helmet will be given special attention – it will be used to restore the ornament, now lost, from photographs.

To carry out restoration work, a pavilion-workshop will be built next to the monument, where a sculpture weighing 18 tons will be transferred with the help of a crane. The workshop will be heated, and all major work will be carried out there – the cracks will be sealed, corrosion will be corroded, damaged internal structures will be replaced with new ones, etc. The pedestal will also be put in order: the bas-reliefs will be cleaned and covered with a protective layer, the gilded letters will be restored, some of which have been changed more than once.

The restoration will cost 55 million rubles. Just as the monument was once made with public money, now it will be restored also at the expense of benefactors.

Monument to Minin and Pozharsky was surrounded by a fence: excavation footage

Monument to Minin and Pozharsky was surrounded by a fence: excavation footage


See the related photo gallery

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 28556 dated June 10, 2021

Newspaper headline:
Prince Pozharsky’s leg “swollen”

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