The Travel Room
The name of this room is conventional. The Travel Room is remarkable for a simplicity and modesty of its decor: its walls are wainscotted by panels painted white and pasted over with wallpaper. The fashion for wallpaper came to Russia in the early eighteenth century. Such design was a new word in interior decoration at that time.
Throughout the eighteenth century the Palace of Peter the Great was used as a stopping place for temporary accommodation - it served for brief stays and repose of the Russian monarchs on their way from St Petersburg to Kronstadt, Peterhof or Oranienbaum. During this period, in the words of contemporaries, the Peterhof road was reminiscent of the beautiful way from Paris to Versailles: a great many fine estates were built at the roadside in the reigns of Elizabeth Petrovna and Catherine the Great; carriages, carts and other vehicles were ceaselessly passing to and fro.
On stopping at the Palace of Peter the Great near the Peterhof road, the Russian Emperors and Empresses left their chests, caskets and others things in the Travel Room.
Displayed in the centre of this room is Emperor Alexander III's travelling chest, a characteristic item of palatial everyday life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Such chests were usually taken for travelling tours or military campaigns, for troop exercises or reviews which would last longer than a single day.
Leaving the city for a travelling tour or campaign, for a military reviewing or training, which would last more than a single day, members of the royal family used to take with them travelling chests in which they could keep all the necessities.
A notable piece on display in this room is a large travelling chest which belonged to Emperor Alexander III.
When folded, the Emperor's chest has a rectangular shape with a convex cover; it is provided with metal handles and buckles for securing belts. Its wooden body is lined with dense crude cloth inside and bound with iron sheets and metal strips outside. The chest has four compartments: one below, two in the middle and one at the top.
The top compartment has several sections used to keep personal hygienic belongings: a washing table with a mirror, a glass for shaving, retorts for cold and hot water, a metal washing tub, a box for ointments and a manicure set. The same compartment includes sections for keeping headgear, epaulettes, shoulder-belts, tobacco and cigarettes. There are also accessories for stretching gloves, a candle lamp and a homeopathic pharmacy. The latter is a wooden box with a cover used to store glass flasks sealed by plugs and bearing labels with names of medicines in Latin. The pharmacy is supplemented with a reference-book on homeopathy in German.
The middle compartment of the chest contains a bedstead frame in the shape of folding wooden rails with two feet. The bed is provided with a quilted mattress filled with horse hair, as well as a sheet, a pillow in a linen case bearing an embroidered monogram of Alexander III and two hot-water bottles.
The lower compartment of the chest has three drawers: one is intended for linen and two for vessels. Next to the chest, on the stand, is a kerosene lamp and two metal saucepans to cook food.
The showcase displays various household appliances usually kept in the chest: four glass bottles for oil, vinegar, cognac and vodka, faceted wineglasses, egg-cups, containers for sugar and cutlery, a tray with napkins and other objects.
In the other showcase cutlery and other kitchen utensils for three diners are displayed: metal plates for soup and a second course coated with white enamel, a knife, a grater, forks and wooden spoons.
The owner of the chest could engage in reading, write a letter or some business paper. By the west wall of the Travel Room is a set of portable chairs and a desk on which metal writing instruments painted red can be seen: an ink-pot, a paper-knife, a bell, a stamp, a pen-stand, two candlesticks, a press, scissors and a thermometer.
The chest put on display in the Travel Room is a great rarity. It ranks with the most unique exhibits in the palace.