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International Centre for Culture and Arts (Kiev)

1 Institutskaya Street, Kiev (tel.: +38 044 279-15-82), Metro station: "Ploshchad Nezavisimosti".

Map

Originally, the Institute for Noble Maidens (the Institute, for short) occupied the building of the present International Centre for Culture and Arts (the Centre, for short); the Institute was opened on 22 August 1838. This was a boarding school that provided their students with an education, with an aesthetic and ethical upbringing and with a right to occupy positions of mentors at families of nobles and merchants. In the beginning, the Institute was situated at the house of Field Marshal von der Osten-Sacken (the house has not been preserved till our days). In 1838–1842, a special, magnificent building was constructed for the Institute, in the Late Classical style and to a design by the architect Vincent Beretti; it was situated in Ivanovskaya Street (later renamed Begicheva Street, Institutskaya Street, Dvadtsat' Pyatogo Oktyabrya Street and Oktyabrskoy Revolutsii Street, before receiving back its historical name, Institutskaya Street).

The central building was composed symmetrically along the main axis. Its windows were framed with archivolts and linings with pediments. And it featured balconies artistically made of cast iron. In the 1890s, a two-storey stone block was added to the main building. The two buildings were connected with a skyway on the first-floor level.

According to its statute, the Institute admitted girls of the noble origin and, starting from 1852, daughters of honorary citizens and first-guild merchants. In the early 20th century, the Institute's yearly education fee was 350 silver roubles. Parents or other relatives of each prospective student had to submit a significant number of documents to the admission board: an application addressed to the director, a certificate of belonging to the nobility and of being a Christian, a health certificate, a certificate of a smallpox vaccination and data on primary education received and, in addition to that, a written obligation to duly pay the education fee.

The Institute admitted girls between 8 and 13.5 years old. The full education programme lasted for six years or, with an additional preparatory year, seven years. The education programme was divided into three forms, each two-year long.

To be admitted to the Institute, the "noble maidens" were required to have the following things: 24 shirts, 6 bed sheets, 12 pairs of linen stockings, 12 white handkerchiefs, 6 towels, 4 napkins and a table set consisting of one tablespoon, one silver spoon, one common knife and one fork. The Institute's statute did not foresee any kind of fee for textbooks and clothes.

At the Institute, the following mandatory subjects were taught: religious education for girls of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic denominations (many students came from noble Polish Catholic families), the Russian language and literature, history and geography, arithmetics and introductions to physics and to mineralogy; languages (Polish, German and French); drawing and graphic arts, church singing, dance, needlework and housekeeping.

In the third, and the last, form, lessons were taught by professors of the Kiev Imperial University of St Vladimir, while the first and second forms involved the best teachers of Kiev gymnasiums. Among them were such famous scholars as Nikolai von Bunge, Vitaly Shulgin, Nikolay Kostomarov and Nikolay Lysenko.

At the institute, music education was received by the famous concert performers Ye. Yelchanov, O. Dolper and O. Tolberg; the female opera singers Ye. Rafilovich and O. Menshikova; and the poetess Natalya Zabello (also known as Zabila).

Entering the Institute, all the "noble maidens" had to pass entrance exams and were distributed to the forms depending on their level of knowledge. To be admitted to the third form, they had to pass the following exams: catechism and scripture history, grammar and the three languages mentioned above. One had to be fluent in them. One also had to know how to do arithmetic operations with whole numbers and fractions, to have a basic knowledge of geography and history, to be able to give brief summaries on all the continents and on the most important European states and to be able to answer questions on the history of the Ancient World and on mineralogy.

As for private music and singing lessons, an additional fee of 30 roubles was charged for them. State-sponsored lessons were provided to the very apt students only, half an hour each week. Each graduate was awarded a diploma. Undoubtedly, the education that girls received at the Institute helped them further in life.

The Institute existed as long as until 1919. However, after the 1917 Russian Revolution, the notion of "noble maiden" was abolished. The building of the Institute was occupied by military units.

During 1934–1941, the building housed Soviet Ukraine's main agency of repression, the NKVD (its full name being the People's Commisariat for Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic). Thousands of political prisoners went through the torture chambers of the NKVD. And during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, through those of the Gestapo. During the Second World War, the building was destroyed.

Its restoration (in 1952–1958, a team of architects led by Aleksey Zavarov) became a truly nation-wide enterprise.

Alongside thousands of common workers, students and people of various professions, here one could see such outstanding people of culture and art as Maksim Rylsky, Vladimir Sosyura, Andrey Malyshko, Lev Revutsky, Amvrosy Buchma, Natalya Uzhvy, Ignat Yura and many others. The building was enlarged with a semi-rotunda and granite stairs featuring a balustrade in the centre. Since then, the Oktyabrsky Palace of Culture (the Palace, for short) has been housed by the building.

On 24 December 1957, the Palace welcomed its first visitors. Since that time, over 40 million people have attended various cultural and artistic events of the Palace. The most honoured among them are, of course, children, because the New Year celebrations became a tradition for them.

The Palace has the full right to be called a "forge of talent". Its many amateur-art hobby groups, folk musical ensembles and amateur clubs saw now-famous masters of the stage starting their creative carriers. For example, here the first steps towards the "big art" were made by the singers Dmitry Gnatyuk, Anatoly Solovyanenko, Bella Rudenko, Anatoly Mokrenko, Yury Gulyayev and Diana Petrinenko, the conductor Stepan Turchak and many others.

The competitions and festivals organised by the Centre may be called real celebrations of folk art. Professional and amateur theatrical companies and concert ensembles are happy to work on the stage of the Centre; among them are companies and ensembles from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Lithuania, Estonia and other countries.

Later, the Palace was renamed the International Centre for Culture and Arts.

Even now, the Centre remains a real centre of Ukraine's spiritual capital. For example, not any cultural institution may boast a library that possesses unique holdings amounting to over 70,000 copies. Various events featuring famous writers, composers, diplomats, politicians, members of parliament and other public figures contribute to the spiritual renaissance of Ukraine, inspire people and endow them with ardent creativity. The well-lit and spacious rooms of the Centre's foyer are always capable of hosting exhibitions spectacularly, emphasising their strong points; the Centre hosts various exhibitions: those of painting, photography, consumer goods, technology and so on. The Centre's capabilities range from intimate family celebrations or somewhat larger anniversary celebrations to large international conferences, symposiums, seminars and congresses.

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International Centre for Culture and Arts

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