London to Host ‘The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution’ Exhibition this Fall

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The exhibition will feature Fabergé’s Steel Military Egg, delivered to Empress Alexandra Feodorovna on Easter Eve of 1916. PHOTO: Moscow Kremlin Museums

A new exhibition, opening at the Science Museum in London, England this September, will investigate the role of science in the extraordinary lives and deaths of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and take visitors behind the scenes of one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century.

Set against a turbulent backdrop of social upheaval and war between 1900 and 1918, The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution will explore the significant influence of medicine on the private lives of the imperial family during this period and the advances in medicine and forensic science over 70 years later that transformed the investigation into their sudden disappearance.

PHOTO: The exhibition will feature X-rays of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna
© Harvard Medical Library in the Frances A. Countway Library of Medicine

Rare artefacts, including the family’s personal diaries, private possessions and jewellery found at the scene of their murder, and an Imperial Fabergé Egg presented by the Tsarina to her husband just a year before the fall of the imperial house, will help bring the personal lives of autocrat Nicholas II and his family to life. For the first time, photographic albums created by an English tutor to the imperial family, and now part of the Science Museum Group collection, will be on public display, providing a fascinating glimpse into their daily lives.

From the treatment of their only son and heir Alexei’s life-threatening haemophilia B, a rare blood condition and infamous ‘royal disease’ passed down from Queen Victoria, to the Tsarina’s fertility and the Red Cross medical training of the Tsar’s daughters, this exhibition will explore the imperial family’s contrasting reliance on both the latest medical discoveries of the time as well as traditional and spiritual healers. The family’s determination to keep Alexei’s illness a secret, as well as their unorthodox approach to providing relief, compelled them to take controversial measures that ultimately contributed to the fall of the 300-year-old dynasty.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, said: “This exhibition marks 100 years since the end of the Romanov dynasty and explores one of the most dramatic periods in Russian history, all through the unique lens of science. Our curatorial team have brought together an exceptional, rare and poignant collection to tell this remarkable story. I want to thank all our lenders in the UK, Russia and America for making this exhibition possible.”

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Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s pregnancy outfit, 1904
© State Hermitage Museum

The investigation into the disappearance of Tsar Nicholas II, his family and entourage, following the revolutions of 1917, started in July 1918 and the case remains open today. One hundred years later, this exhibition will take visitors behind the scenes to uncover the science behind the investigation into one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century.

Visitors will be able to examine evidence from the scene of the execution, from the dentures of the imperial physician and a single diamond earring belonging to the Tsarina, to an icon peppered with bullet holes, and delve into the remarkable modern forensic investigation which set out to piece together the events of that night.

This investigation was one of the first occasions that forensic DNA analysis was used to solve a historic case, involving the best British experts under the direction of Dr Peter Gill from the Forensic Science Service. Blood samples from relatives, including His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, and advances in DNA profiling and 3D reconstruction, helped to positively identify the remains of the imperial family and enabled the investigation to reach convincing conclusions. Formal identification of the remains of the last members of the imperial family is expected to be announced this week, which will finally and decisively bring closure to this historic case.

Admission is FREE, but booking is required. Click HERE to book.

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The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution will open at the Science Museum in London, England on 21 September 2018 and runs until 24 March 2019

Combine this exhibition with the exhibition Russia: Royalty and the Romanovs and the Nicholas II Conference, to be held on 27 October 2018, at St John’s Orthodox Church, in Colchester, England. 

© Science Museum / Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 24 July 2018