Preserving Unique Recordings from the Soviet and Tsarist Eras

Grant to: Museum of Russian Culture (2020)


An award in the amount of $3,500.00 to Museum of Russian Culture in 2020.


The Museum of Russian Culture holds a rare and vulnerable collection of early recordings from folk balalaika orchestras to early Soviet dance music, Tsarist-era operatic divas to field recordings of Russian refugees in China. A wide variety of these historical audio documents will be digitized for the first time. “The museum is very grateful to the NRPF for supporting the preservation and digitization of our collection of Russian musical recordings,” says Yves Franquien, Vice President of the Museum of Russian Culture, San Francisco. “Our archive contains a wide stylistic variety of Russian music produced all over the world, from Moscow to Shanghai, New York to Paris. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to digitize the rarest recordings, make them available online, and integrate them into the main exhibition of our museum.” “The recordings to be digitized include pre-revolutionary operatic arias produced under Tsar Nicholas II and exceedingly rare Chinese pressings of Russian music marketed to imperial loyalists following the Russian Civil War,” adds Ryan Gourley, Project Manager and Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology at UC Berkeley. “These are extraordinary objects of immense cultural heritage, some of which have not been listened to for over a century.” “As part of the Russian Center of San Francisco, the largest hub for Russian cultural activity in the American Pacific Northwest,” says Margarita Meniailenko, Chief Archivist, “the museum is dedicated to peaceful intercultural exchange. We look forward to collaborating with researchers in the United States and abroad on this unique project.”

About the NRPF

The National Recording Preservation Foundation (NRPF) is an independent, charitable organization and registered 501(c)(3) entity. The NRPF works across the United States to foster awareness of the diverse perspectives and communities documented in audio, to support the preservation of historical and at-risk audio collections, and to coordinate resources for the digital preservation of audio recordings. The NRPF was mandated through federal charter by the U.S. Congress under the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-474) and was thereafter duly incorporated in 2010.

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