The Center’s mission is to promote the study of Russian culture and history on the strength of its world-class book, archival and art collections. It sponsors activities that support advanced research by Amherst undergraduates, College faculty, and a broad community of scholars: local, regional, national, and international. The Center organizes symposia, lectures, student presentations, cultural events, and publications that seek to serve the scholarly community and the broader public interested in some of the most advanced research undertaken on Russian culture and history today.

In Memoriam: Stanley J. Rabinowitz

A photo of Stanley J. Rabinowitz

We at the Amherst Center for Russian Culture deeply mourn the loss of our Founding Director, Stanley J. Rabinowitz, Henry Steele Commager Professor of Russian, Emeritus. It is thanks to Stanley’s efforts that the Center’s collections first came to Amherst. Thomas P. Whitney ‘37, the original donor and Stanley’s friend, envisioned the Center as a living collection, with an active program of events to engage students, scholars, and the wider community. Stanley fulfilled that mission as director from 1991-2017, organizing conferences, lectures, concerts, film screenings, and exhibitions to connect students and the community with the culture he dedicated his life to studying. It is a testament to Stanley’s vision, passion, and boundless energy that more than thirty years after its founding, the Center’s collections have more than doubled in size and reach students and scholars across Amherst’s campus, the Pioneer Valley, and the globe.

In a letter to Stanley before the Center’s opening in its current home in Webster Hall, Whitney expressed what Stanley’s work had meant to him: “I owe you so much, Stanley. I can’t really express the gratitude I feel for your steadfast dedication to the cause of Russian culture and for your never failing support for the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.” Nor can we.

Opportunities to honor and celebrate Stanley’s legacy will be shared over the coming months.

A Poem for Stanley, by Polina Barskova

25 января 2024: Амхерст

Теперь уже не окликнет не вскрикнет-     
Потрясая тростью, поправляя седую прядь;     
Речь его извилистая изощренная     
как ахиллесов щит —     
Язык его любящий свое течение изменять/     
Перескакивая с русского на итальянский     
По мосткам насмешки,     
По-подмосткам аррогантных хитрых цитат     
Из допустим Гоголя,     
На которого был похож.     

Но речь теперь не о декоруме,  но о зияньи—     
Ахилессова дыра- пята:     
Ястреб, принеси мерзлых ягод ему на могилу-     
Как рыцарю- строгий паж.     

«Где ж Вас все время носит?     
Вы забыли меня?» о нет     
Я помню я оборачиваюсь мне кажется это он     
Переходит дорогу     
Машет рукой     
Под снегом     
По снегу идет     
Наблюдает как люди медленно  возвращаются с похорон.

January 25, 2024, Amherst 

Now he won’t call your name with a shriek,     
A squeal,     
Shaking his cane, fixing a grey shock of hair;     
His winding refined speech     
A shield of Achilles –     
His tongue loving to alter, to measure,     
Its flow,     
Skipping from Russian to Italian along     
Scaffolds of humor     
Stage floors of arrogant clever quotations     
From, let’s say, Gogol,     
His lookalike.     

I’m not speaking about decorum but the gap –     
The hole in Achilles’s heel:     
Hawk, bring now frozen berries to his grave,     
Like a solemn page serves his knight.     

“Where are you always running?     
Did you forget me?” Oh, no,     
I remember, I swivel thinking it’s you     
Crossing the road     
Waving your hand     
As snow falls     
Walking across the snow     
Watching as people slowly come back from the burial.

Translated by Catherine Ciepiela

From Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine (2017)

...Most of us in the Western world have little firsthand knowledge of war. Normally, we are not forced to face war, fight in a war, flee from war. We don't get tortured, see our homes and schools collapse, lose relatives and friends to war, spend months locked up in basements "because this is war." When we do get involved, as soldiers, journalists, or relief workers, we go to war or get sent to war - war does not come to us. Those of us who do not go and have not been to war are nevertheless aware of war, sometimes at a deep level. Yet this awareness is usually indirect: it requires inference. Like with a disease, we first encounter symptoms, these heralds of disruption reaching us from regions both intimate and strange. Even as we trace the tremors and the fevers back to the original cause, the source of the disturbance itself stays hidden from view. Many of us in the West have lived with wars for significant parts of our lives, wars that mostly remained out of sight. These hidden wars have become a part of us, shaping our minds, affecting the words, images, and concepts with which we think.

—from the preface to Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky.

A modern statue of an animal in black on a pedestal

Alexander Archipenko (b. 1887 Ukraine, Russian Empire-d. 1964), "Torso in Space," Bronze on Wood Base. Mead Art Museum. Gift of Julia A. Whitney Foundation.

The Amherst Center for Russian Culture adds its name to the ranks of people and organizations outraged by Russia's war in Ukraine and the suffering the Putin government inflicts upon the country and its people. We express our solidarity with those, in Ukraine, Russia, and elsewhere, who oppose this war—often at profound risk to themselves—and our deepest sympathies for those living with staggering fear and fearing for those they love.

We join the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute’s call “in its support of Ukraine and its peoples, by sharing factual information on Ukraine and the war and offering what support we can to those whose livelihoods and lives hang in the balance.”

Please find here the collection of statements by museums and cultural organizations on the invasion of Ukraine: Collection of Statements on the Invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Center Highlights

A walll of colorful Russian prints

Explore the Collections

Explore our collection of books, manuscripts, and other materials representing the depth of Russian cultural achievement.

A woman giving a lecture at a podium in front of a painting

Current Initiatives

The Center undertakes a number of initiatives to advance scholarly and undergraduate research in Russian Studies.

People standing in a gallery looking at art on walls

On View

Learn about the exhibits currently on view at the Amherst Center for Russian Culture’s gallery, located in the Webster Hall.

ACRC seating area

Graduate Student Research Support

The ACRC invites advanced Ph.D. students to utilize the Center's unique collections for their dissertation research. We aim to offset the cost of visiting the ACRC by providing up to one week of lodging. 

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Events at the Center

The Amherst Center for Russian Culture holds numerous events throughout the year, including shows at our newly renovated gallery space. Learn more about recent and upcoming events at the Center.

Thomas Whitney

About Us

Learn more about the Amherst Center for Russian Culture—from its founding in 1991 to its current mission and collection development. You can also find contact information for the Center’s current staff.

Webster Hall

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