The Kasli Cast Iron Pavilion
The Kasli Cast Iron Pavilion takes pride of place in the collection of the museum. This unparalleled masterpiece was molded for the World's Fair (Exposition Universelle) held in Paris in 1900. The author of the project – St. Petersburg architect Eugene Baumgarten – had a difficult task to accomplish: to demonstrate sculptural capabilities of cast iron. The masterwork is a unique exhibition pavilion that was built and displayed, first of all, to attract attention of the visitors of the World's Fair and to limelight Kasli among numerous other exhibitors competing in the category “Materials and Processes of Small Metallurgy”.
The dazzling combination of bilberry red and royal yellow velvet, magnificent gilded ornamentation and elaborate cast-iron lacework were the right solution to the challenging problem: The Kasli craftsmen created the masterpiece that by far justified all the costs.
The pavilion showcased a variety of art castings: Inside, it had shelves for smaller items; wall bracket light fixtures and openwork plates were mounted on the walls; table-top compositions were placed on the balustrade at the front entrance. At the foot of the pavilion, in the corners of the formidable podium there were pitchers and pots, skillets and roasting pans.
The most daring ideas of the architect were brought to life by skillful hands of remarkable Kasli masters: openwork cornices, cut-through reliefs of the sailboat, high reliefs of the Birds of Joy and Sorrow, sculptures of dragons – all of them were elegantly juxtaposed, complementing each other and demonstrating the highest quality and workmanship of pattern designers, molders, founders and casters.
Shortly after its triumph at the World's Fair, the masterpiece sank into oblivion for many years: In 1922, some fragments of the pavilion were handed over to the Ural Society of Natural Science Amateurs to be saved from recasting. The reconstruction of the pavilion started only in the 1950s and it was finally restored to its glory when it was given its velvet and silk attire on the day of its 110th anniversary.
Having taken center stage in the Kasli Cast Iron Exhibition Hall of the museum, the pavilion stands there as the manmade monument to several generations of Ural artisans who created and restored it.