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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Museum of Russian Icons in Small Town America

High tech meets High Byzantine in the small town of Clinton, Massachusetts, about one hour west of Boston. Home to the Museum of Russian Icons, mega-manufacturer Gordon Lankton shares the wealth of his personal collection with those in his community and beyond.

As a young man traveling the world in the 1950s, Mr. Lankton began his fascination with different cultures. In 1989, just a couple of years before the breakup of the Soviet Union, he came upon an icon in Moscow’s Ismailovsky Flea Market almost by chance and bought it. He was uniquely poised to begin collecting icons during a time when religious artifacts were going for pennies on the dollar…or kopeks on the ruble….

Over the years, he opened manufacturing plants in Russia and his icon collection grew. So many took over his home and office, that the idea for a museum was conceived.

In a historic brick building across from the town’s main square, Lankton’s architectural team designed a state of the art gallery with dark grey walls, interspersed with stretches of salmon. The lighting, the temperature control, the Russian liturgical music playing softly in the background combine to make quite an impressive setting.

The rich, shimmering tones of gold and bronze catch one’s eye. The icons range from small and simple panels, to trifold triptychs, the ever-intriguing brass surrounds, to full-length wall installations.

Headphones with commentary in English or in Russian are like a dream come true for us. Our children walked at their own pace, punching in the number of each icon of interest and hearing a brief overview of each.

Best of all, Mr. Lankton himself often circulates and greets guests, sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm in everything from the proper placement of icons in a museum setting to the background information of a certain piece of interest.

Many are the stories of martyrs from the young girl Paraskeva, unsuccessfully boiled in a vat of oil, to the saints such as Nikolai who threw coins in the open windows of poor families when their daughters were of marriageable age and had no money for a dowry. Each gives us a glimpse into the histories or legends of old, and possibly more importantly, into the values held dear by those of their time: faith, commitment, good triumphing over evil.

This is a museum that gives one pause for thought and reflection in more ways than one.

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