In late 2018, The Peterhof State Museum opened a new museum of playing cards and their role in human culture. The new venue is referred to as "museum-spectacle" as modern multimedia technologies have come to help spectators (as visitors are called here) better plunge into history and art.
The exposition features more than 10,000 items. Various types of decks of cards, i.e. souvenirs, educational, advertising, for kids, to name a few, accessories for playing are exhibited in halls decorated in style of ancient epochs. The museum uses virtual installations, videos, interactive lighting and "live" exhibits.
Spectators will meet royal players, learn the connection between playing cards and Peterhof, attend a session of fortunetelling, visit virtually casinos across the world, witness a talk between famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, the author of "The Queen of Spades", and composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky who wrote the music for "The Queen of Spades" opera.
The museum has some truly interesting and rare exhibits which could be of interest not only for experts. Among the rarities, the museum presents the "Cards with carriers", released in Augsburg in 1690. At the end of the XVIII century, the English countess, Jennison-Velvord, devised the transformation cards where the suit sign, was an element of the picture. The Eastern part of the collection, is represented by the Chinese playing cards in the form of long narrow strips of paper, that were affectionately called "Melodious rustling leaves". They were the prototype of paper money, that were marked with a symbol of their cash equivalent. The unique small in size Persian cards, made in the technique of lacquer painting on papier-mâché, the deck of Japanese cards "Hanafuda" and playing cards "the Russian fortune-teller", with explanations in the form of Russian proverbs and sayings. The pride of the collection, are the original sketches of the satin deck of cards of the academician A. I. Charlemagne, with pattern that has not been changing for more than 160 years in Russia. It is impossible to look without emotion at "the Antifascist cards", created in the sieged Leningrad under gunfire and bombs.
The history of this museum started at the end of September 2007, when in one of the Cavalier houses built in the end of the XVIII century, the first "Museum of Playing Cards" was opened. The basis of the museum exposition was a collection of Alexander Semenovich Perelman, acquired by the State Museum-Reserve "Peterhof" in late 1999. As part of this collection, in addition to the cards, there were objects of fine, decorative and applied arts, representing the game and its attributes, as well as a unique library, by its composition. In subsequent years, the collection was significantly enriched with the museum's own acquisitions and its objects, that were formerly part of the collection of the Peterhof State Museum-Reserve.
A. S. Perelman was a famous collector, not only in Russia, but also abroad. He dreamed of opening a museum, where his collection would be available to a wide circle of people. The collector was convinced that, such a museum should be located outside the city, and Peterhof was the best place for it. The museum featured more than eight thousand exhibits, that give the most comprehensive idea of the development and the history of the game, the production of playing cards in Russia and in the countries of Western Europe, Asia, England and America. In addition to the cards used for different games, there were decks, comprising a special section, that includes educational cards, advertising, souvenir, transformation, historical, for children's game and scrying cards.
The Collection of playing cards in the museum is unique, and we can only regret that the visitors can not touch or pick them up, to feel a light shiver and to sense the bygone time.