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About Us

The Novgorod Center for Music Antiquities was founded in 1990 by Vladimir Povetkin, an artist, a musician, and a scholar. The idea for creating the Center developed from Povetkin’s life-long effort to restore and bring back to life the sound of ancient Russian musical instruments that started in the mid 1970s as part of the Novgorod archaeological survey.

Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov (1906-1999), the world's foremost expert in Old Russian language and literature, was the first to lend his support to establishing the Center. Subsequently, with the help of other renowned scholars (V. Yanin, A. Zaliznyak, Ye. Tybina), well-known artists (D. Balashov, S. Vlasov), and friends, the Center was eventually opened. Maria Baibakova, V. Povetkin’s mother, had played a pivotal role in its foundation.

The mission of the Novgorod Center for Music Antiquities is to promote Russian traditional musical culture through research and education. The research program focuses on documenting archaeological artifacts of the 10th-15th centuries pertaining to musical culture and developing methodology for accurate restoration of their form and sound. Most artifacts derive from archaeological surveys in Novgorod. The Center’s collection of original archaeological material and working replicas of ancient musical instruments became the foundation of contemporary Russian musical archaeology, a new discipline pioneered by V. Povetkin. The educational program of the Center includes lecture-demonstrations dedicated to the musical culture of ancient Novgorod, classes and consultations on musical instrument making, restoration, and reconstruction, as well as on other aspects of traditional culture (folk costume, crafts, oral traditions, rituals, and festivities).

The Center continuously growing holdings include a specialized library, a collection of recordings and transcripts of traditional performers, and an ethnographic collection of household items. Some artifacts are donations from private collections.

The auditorium of the Center hosts a wide range of temporary exhibits and is used for a diversity of public events for both children and adults. Examples of activities that take place in the Center include traditional celebrations, singing and dance lessons, musical instrument and traditional costume making workshops. The musical programs follow the traditional calendar and recreate traditional settings in attempt to capture the authentic meaning of traditional music rather than a highly choreographed, staged performance.

The ultimate goal of the educational programs of the Center for Musical Antiquities is to disseminate of knowledge on Russian folk culture and to promote the value of traditional art, and practice.

“Becoming acquainted with the tradition of making and playing the guslis [plucked psalteries], gudki [bowed fiddles], sopeli [wooden flutes], and vargany [mouth harps] is a way for us to appreciate the highest values of [our] traditional culture and the way of life that was preserved in countless Russian villages and, up until recently, remained the foundation of our statehood and national self-esteem” (V. Povetkin). 

The interdisciplinary research program, innovative restoration methods, rich collections, and unique educational initiatives integrated into the fabric of traditional way of life, make the Novgorod Center for Music Antiquities a national and a European treasure.

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