The Kremlin Armory is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1808. The Kremlin Armoury originated as the royal arsenal in 1508. Until the transfer of the court to St Petersburg, the Armoury was in charge of producing, purchasing and storing weapons, jewelry and various household articles of the tsars. The finest Muscovite gunsmiths (the Vyatkin brothers), jewelers (Gavrila Ovdokimov), and painters (Simon Ushakov) used to work there. In 1640 and 1683, they opened the iconography and pictorial studios, where the lessons on painting and handicrafts could be given. In 1700, the Armoury was enriched with the treasures of the Golden and Silver chambers of the Russian tsars.
In 1711, Peter the Great had the majority of masters transferred to his new capital, St.Petersburg. 15 years later, the Armoury was merged with the Fiscal Yard (the oldest depository of the royal treasures), Stables Treasury (in charge of storing harnesses and carriages) and the Master Chamber (in charge of sewing clothes and bedclothes for the tsars). After that, the Armoury was renamed into the Arms and Master Chamber. Alexander I of Russia nominated the Armoury as the first public museum in Moscow in 1806, but the collections were not opened to the public until seven years later. The current Armoury building was erected in 1844-1851 by the imperial architect Konstantin Ton. The director of the museum from 1852 to 1870 was the writer Alexander Veltman.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Armoury collection was enriched with treasures taken from the Patriarch sacristy, Kremlin cathedrals, monasteries and private collections. Some of these were sold abroad on behest of Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. In 1960, the Armoury became the official museum of the Kremlin. Two years later, the Patriarch chambers and the Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles were assigned to the Armoury in order to house the Applied Arts Museum.
The Kremlin Armoury is currently home to the Russian Diamond Fund. It boasts unique collections of the Russian, Western European and Eastern applied arts spanning the period from the 5th to the 20th centuries. Some of the highlights include the Imperial Crown of Russia by jeweller Jérémie Pauzié, Monomakh's Cap, the ivory throne of Ivan the Terrible, and other regal thrones and regalia. The ten Fabergé eggs in the Armoury collection (all Imperial eggs) are the most Imperial eggs, and the second-most overall Fabergé eggs, owned by a single owner.References:
The Cloth Hall in Kraków dates to the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognizable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Kraków Old Town (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978).
The hall was once a major centre of international trade. Traveling merchants met there to discuss business and to barter. During its golden age in the 15th century, the hall was the source of a variety of exotic imports from the east – spices, silk, leather and wax – while Kraków itself exported textiles, lead, and salt from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Kraków was Poland's capital city and was among the largest cities in Europe already from before the time of the Renaissance. However, its decline started with the move of the capital to Warsaw in the very end of the 16th century. The city's decline was hastened by wars and politics leading to the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century. By the time of the architectural restoration proposed for the cloth hall in 1870 under Austrian rule, much of the historic city center was decrepit. A change in political and economic fortunes for the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ushered in a revival due to newly established Legislative Assembly or Sejm of the Land. The successful renovation of the Cloth Hall, based on design by Tomasz Pryliński and supervised by Mayor Mikołaj Zyblikiewicz, Sejm Marshal, was one of the most notable achievements of this period.
The hall has hosted many distinguished guests over the centuries and is still used to entertain monarchs and dignitaries, such as Charles, Prince of Wales and Emperor Akihito of Japan, who was welcomed here in 2002. In the past, balls were held here, most notably after Prince Józef Poniatowski had briefly liberated the city from the Austrians in 1809. Aside from its history and cultural value, the hall still is still used as a center of commerce.
On the upper floor of the hall is the Sukiennice Museum division of the National Museum, Kraków. It holds the largest permanent exhibit of the 19th-century Polish painting and sculpture, in four grand exhibition halls arranged by historical period and the theme extending into an entire artistic epoch. The museum was upgraded in 2010 with new technical equipment, storerooms, service spaces as well as improved thematic layout for the display.
The Gallery of 19th-Century Polish Art was a major cultural venue from the moment it opened on October 7, 1879. It features late Baroque, Rococo, and Classicist 18th-century portraits and battle scenes by Polish and foreign pre-Romantics.