An exhibition entitled Panteon, which has just opened in St. Petersburg's Literary Museum of the Institute of Russian Literature, features death-masks and casts taken from the hands of Russian writers of the 19th-20th centuries. The purpose of the exhibition, according to keeper of the fund of sculpture and paintings Yelena Kochneva, is to set people thinking about eternity and the way great people met it. According to RIA Novosti, the exhibition is best described by the word austere - visitors who come here see only the casts of writers' faces and hands upon bare walls. Exhibits are deliberately devoid of labels. Every visitor gets a special exhibition guidebook. Many of the masks featured here have never been exhibited before. Among those are the death-masks of Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Akhmatova and other classics of Russian literature. One of the unique exhibits is a death-mask of Russian Silver Age poet Alexander Blok, which was handed over to the museum in 1930s by the wife of the late poet. Visitors can also see the only casts taken from the face and hand of Sergei Yesenin, a brilliant Russian poet of the early 20th century. The unique collection of the Literary Museum's death-masks consists of more than 70 masks.
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