The word ”Riisa” comes from the Russian word риза which refers to a metallic cover placed over an icon. The riisa is used to protect and decorate an icon and can include precious materials like gold and silver. The riisa typically reveals only the faces, hands and bare feet of the holy persons depicted in an icon while protecting the rest of the painting from damage, be it wax from votive candles or smoke from incense burners.
RIISA conceals and reveals
The new unified appearance of RIISA is based on a fascinating concept: the impressive riisa protects the treasures held within the museum and simultaneously entices visitors to come in and experience the mixture of ancient Byzantine tradition and modern Orthodox life.
The appearance of the exhibition was designed by architecture, art and design studio Partanen & Lamusuo Ltd.
The golden and silver riisa
The golden and silver riisa alternate within the museum
A visitor’s museum experience in RIISA is an unforgettable one. Be it individual or communal, sacred or profane, it is still a comprehensive experience that offers something for everyone.
Atmosphere, space, colors and scents, you must experience them for yourself! Come and share the museum experience with us and take a peek at all the treasures hidden in RIISA.
In the Orthodox tradition, gold is the color of divine light and richness of the Holy Spirit. It is the symbol of perfection and the ethereal which is why it serves as one of the basic colors in medieval and Orthodox art.
Gold is also the metal of the sun. In Orthodox textiles gold forms a natural combination of colors with white, red and green.
The facade of RIISA is decorated in the symbol of the museum, the golden riisa. The design is based on a beautiful Byzantine heart ornament found in the museum’s collections. As it is inspired by objects in the museum, the golden riisa is a befitting protector of the museum’s treasures. Sunlight filtered through the decorative design creates an atmosphere that starts at the literal door of RIISA.
Silver is the symbolic color of a pure and tranquil mind and of the moon. You can also find gleaming silver in various places around the museum.