Shedding a light on Imperial St. Petersburg.
Founded in the 1700s as Russia's window onto Europe, St. Petersburg was Czar Peter the Great's fantasy capital and showplace. A glamorous conglomeration of pastel palaces, grand boulevards, canals and churches, the city was designed by European architects to advertise Russia's wealth and sophistication. Simultaneously it was intended to introduce new European technologies and ideas to a largely agrarian and feudal country whose peasant population was basically illiterate. Despite the political and economic turmoil of recent decades, St. Petersburg retains much of its elegance and grandeur, especially in the photos of William C. Brumfield, a professor of Slavic studies at Tulane University and author of the acclaimed "A History of Russian Architecture." More than 30 of Brumfield's classic black-and-white images are featured in "Architectural Visions," which suggests that as recently as 1985 the city seemed frozen in its imperial past. (Sat. through Sept. 15, $7. The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Av. S., Mpls., at I-35W and Diamond Lake Rd. 612-821-9045 or www.tmora.org.)