Valdaya Bell Museum, opening hours and address

Museum of Bells

In the city of Valday in the Novgorod region, there is a museum and museum center, whose visitors can get acquainted with a variety of bells.

The museum is located in a town like Valday, where visitors can see all sorts of bells. In the past, the town of Valday was a major center of yamshchik bells. It was used as a signaling tool to keep the road safe. The bell rang to alert the people at the station that a carriage was approaching. Also, to a certain extent it influenced the rhythm of the horses, alternately driving the animals, and giving them an opportunity to rest, moving in measured step. In addition, it could be used as a musical instrument, because its sound could smoothly complement the singing of the coachman.

The museum, devoted to the bells, is located in an architectural monument dating back to the 18th century. The history of the building is interesting. Initially it was made as a temple to the traveling palace of Catherine II. The church was designed by architect Nikolai Alexandrovich Lvov. The church was made in the form of a rotunda. This led to another name for this building: the Lvov rotunda. The rotunda was finished in 1793. The church was assigned to the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

In 1920, the church was listed as a monument of architecture, protected by the state. In the middle of XX century, the Lviv Rotunda was seriously damaged. In 1956, renovation and restoration works were carried out in the building and finished in 1961. In 1970, the Valdai Local History Museum exhibit was placed there. Then, in 1971, the previous exposition was replaced by a new one. The year 1980 was marked in the history of the museum by the fact that a new exposition was placed there to replace the previous one, which was called “The Valdai Bell”. The museum’s collection of exhibits related to this subject was gradually expanded. In 1995 it was transformed into an independent Bell Museum.

The Museum of Bells has a lot of different exhibits that illustrate the history of bell science. Here you can see examples of bells from different eras, made by masters from different countries. A tour of this museum allows you to learn more about the specifics of the bell ringing profession, the history of bell making, aspects related to the making of these devices, and other interesting things related to the subject of the institution.

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The presence of bells in the institution allows visitors to become familiar with the technique of bell ringing and the techniques of bell making. A big plus of the museum can be called the opportunity not only, being in close proximity, to hear the bell ringing performed by these instruments of various sizes, but also to try to ring these devices yourself. In addition to the fact that such a chance is given during the tour, this institution also offers special master classes called “Singing Bronze,” where those who wish can learn the skills of bell ringing.

As a memento of your visit to the museum, you can buy various souvenirs. Especially, perhaps, it is worth mentioning the Valdai bell, a common souvenir in this city. Among other things that can be purchased here as a memento of a visit to the institution, we can highlight the disc on which the chimes of the bells are recorded.

The Museum Bell Center is a facility that opened its doors to visitors in 2015. This center was added to the Valdai branch of the Novgorod State United Museum-Reserve. It is worth noting that this branch, in addition to the Bell Museum, also includes the Museum of a County Town, where visitors can learn more about Valday. As for the Museum Bell Center, it is located in a monument of civil architecture and urban planning, which dates back to the first quarter of the XX century. This building is located near the above described Museum of Bells – only fifty meters. Previously, the building, which now houses the Museum Bell Center, housed various educational institutions.

The exposition of this room is supplemented by local Valdai bells and documentary materials, which reflect the activities of Russian bell works of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Visitors to the Museum Bell Center have the opportunity to view a unique exhibit that includes bells of various purposes made in different historical periods. This collection of exhibits is placed in several thematic halls. In the first hall of interest are, in particular, archaic bell forms, of which one can see ancient jingles and bells, which were made before our era, as well as in the first few centuries, belonging already to our era. The history of bell casting is also aided by the bells, which have cultic significance for various peoples. These include, for example, ritual bells that were used in China, India, Vietnam and other countries, as well as Christian bells that were used in Europe and Russia in the XII-XVIII centuries.

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In the second hall visitors can see a large collection of signal bells. A large part of the exposition are the well-known air-raid bells. These bells were mainly used in messenger and postal troikas. But at the same time they were also used by private owners of troikas. Also in this room you can see many other bells used for a variety of purposes. These include ship bells, theater bells, station bells, door bells, fire bells, wind bells, and other bells.

In the third hall, compared to the previous room, are bells of a different kind. Here visitors can see examples of gift bells, cabinet bells, and decorative bells. The fourth hall allows visitors to get better acquainted with the modern history of bellmaking. In this room, visitors can get acquainted with bell tragedies of the XX century, the revival of bell ringing, the preservation of famous bells and bell towers. Here you can also learn more about the process of bell casting at present Russian enterprises.

The collection of unique exhibits gathered in this museum center is complemented by the use of multimedia technology. On the first floor of this institution, in addition to the storage room, there is a room with a multimedia library and a conference room, which is combined with a cinema room designed to show films with special effects on the technology of bell making. A video wall 7 meters high serves to complement the theme of the current bells and chimes. Another rather curious object is an interactive scale model depicting Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. With the help of this model, the visitors have the opportunity to consider the three tiers of the bell tower and listen to the ringing of some varieties of bells – clock, carillon, and church bells. Thanks to special multimedia information kiosks, visitors can learn a variety of useful information about the history of the museum, the contents of its exposition, and other issues.

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Some of the opportunities offered to visitors through the museum’s multimedia technology are more geared toward children and young people. An example of this is the ability to try out themed games with the touchscreen table located here. Using this device, you can harness a tee (albeit a virtual one, not a real one) or cast a virtual bell – it can be emailed to yourself or another person.

Valdaya Bell Museum, opening hours and address

Website of the city of Valdai

Welcome to the Museum of Bells in Valdaya. You are on the information and travel portal of Valday, Novgorod region.

Museum of Bells

Bells… Low and high, dense and heavy, light and silvery, sad and joyful, their voices have always been considered by peoples of the world as a gift from the heaven that heals, exalts, protects people, their families and homes. For many centuries, bells have accompanied the life of the people with their ringing. They measured the course of days, announcing times of common prayer, work and rest, sorrow and joy. They warned of impending natural disasters and of the approach of the enemy, they greeted dear guests and national heroes with solemn ringing, called for unity and unity.

photo © Marina Yashina

Where did bells come from, when did they appear? How are they born and how long do they live? The desire to learn this and much more about bells and leads people to the Bell Museum. When you have a chance to see ancient Chinese bells of the 16th century BC and Russian bells of the 16th century AD, Italian campanile of the 12th century and a ship’s market-place of the 20th century,

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Buddhist wind chime of the XVII century and Valday Yamskaya at the beginning of the XIX century, you can’t help thinking about the fact that for many thousands of years bells have been something small, but steadily necessary, which connected people of different countries, beliefs and cultures.

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And at the same time, like everything eternal and perfect, they do not seem to have undergone any external changes at all. The shepherd’s bell of the 16th century B.C. from Ancient China does not differ in any way from the cow bell made in Romkin’s forge in the village of Yedrovo in 1930. But the external unpretentiousness of both bells is compensated by the clearly defined inner essence of the object, a talisman to ward off all evil. And if the East considered the bell’s main function to ward off evil, the West – the ability to attract the good with the beauty of the bell shape and voice.

According to tradition, Christian bells were born in Italy in the province of Campana (that is why in Russia they were called campanos rather than bells for a long time). They were made by St. Paul in the image and likeness of wildflowers, which appeared to him in a vision as the voice of the sky. Metal “flowers” began to hang on the roofs of churches and they rang by themselves when the breeze blew.

With the appearance of church bells in Europe there was also a manner of ringing focal, swinging bells, which together with the bells themselves came to Russia and were kept until the 17th century, until a special, Russian, ringing in tongues appeared.

However, Byzantium, when giving Russia Orthodoxy, bequeathed not to use bells, but to ring the beaters. What is the Byzantine beating, a big Novgorod monastery beating and civil beating, what is its fundamental difference from the bell and what is the similarity to it you can find out in the Bell Museum. As well as to see the very first Russian bell made by the Pskov masters T. Andreev and P. Grigoriev in 1536. German bells of 1636 and 1648, the Swedish trophy bells of 1680 and 1692, Bells of the Russian Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and the Swedish King Karl XI, bells cast in the 19th century in Yaroslavl, St. Petersburg, Ustyuzhne, Vyatka and Valday, cast in the 20th century for churches, railroads and ships, pit, table and gift bells, bells for cattle necks and door bells – all are exhibits of the Bells Museum. Its peculiarity is that these exhibits can be not only viewed but also listened to. Placed on three bell towers, you can not only hear the chime performed by museum workers, see the bell technique and ringing techniques, but also try to call the visitor himself. The legends will come alive and the unmistakable sounds that invisibly connect heaven and earth, God and man, will pierce your body and soul: you will understand that the bell is the voice of heaven.

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You will learn why European bells sing, but the Russian ones speak, what is crimson, who is the master of crimson bells, what is the connection between the banshchun, the “Yamskaya garmony” and the carillon, how the Russian road sounded a century and a half ago and whether the Novgorod Veche Bell is alive – find out about all that at the Museum of Bells. The museum presents materials on the history of bell science, the current state of bell craft and ringing art. Here you can learn about the major researchers and collectors, bell makers and craftsmen who make bell souvenirs for the museum.

The Bell Museum was opened in June of 1995, and is located in an architectural monument of the 18 th century, a traveling palace church in the name of the Great Martyr Saint Catherine, built by the project of N. A. Lvov for the Empress Catherine II (Truda St., 2a.).

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