(Goldendale, Wash., August 28, 2013) – Windows to Heaven: Treasures from the Museum of Russian Icons will open at Maryhill Museum of Art September 14, 2013 and run through November 15, 2013. The exhibition features a group of historically significant Russian icons dating from 1590 to the present, all drawn from the collection of The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts.

Windows to Heaven: Treasures from the Museum of Russian Icons explores the historical context in which the icons were created, the definition of an icon, and how icons are made – both in the past and today. The exhibition also looks at Russian history and culture, and the systematic destruction of holy images, or the practice of iconoclasm.

What is an Icon?
The word icon derives from the Greek work eikon, meaning an image, portrait or likeness. An icon is a likeness of a divine, heavenly appearance, which worshipers use as a means for prayer.  Icons are created for the glory of God, using a unique aesthetic criteria and artistic language. The subject matter of an icon many be a holy person, a scene from holy writings or a combination of both.

The composition of both portrait and narrative icons, as well as how the human form and other elements are depicted, follows time-honored conventions. Traditionally, icons are painted in egg tempera on wooden panels. Portions of the painting are sometimes embellished with a metal covering, or riza, that can be decorated with gemstones or filigree. Artists use existing icons or pattern books as guides and individual artists are seldom recognized.

Icons in Russia
There is a rich history and elaborate religious symbolism associated with Russian icons. Icons from Constantinople introduced Byzantine-style painting to Russia after its conversion to Christianity in 988 AD. Since the vast majority of Russian churches were made of wood, not stone, mosaics and frescoes were not part of the tradition. Consequently icons played an important role in prayer and were called upon to depict everything needed for an Orthodox church.

Windows to Heaven: Treasures from the Museum of Russian Icons beautifully complements Maryhill Museum of Art’s own collection of Russian icons, a portion of which is on permanent view. Much of Maryhill’s Russian icon collection once belonged to Queen Marie of Romania. Queen Marie’s mother was devoutly Russian Orthodox and, as a result, despite being raised as a Protestant herself, Marie retained a lifelong interest in the symbolism and ceremony associated with Orthodox icons.

The Museum of Russian Icons was founded by collector Gordon Lankton, who, after 40 trips to the former Soviet Union amassed more than 340 icons dating from the 15th to the 21st century. Located in central Massachusetts, it is the only museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to Russian icons.

EDITORS: High resolution images are available for immediate download at https://www.maryhillmuseum.org/discover/about-maryhill-museum-of-art/press-room/images-for-publication/images-from-special-exhibitions#icons

September 10-14, 2013

Workshop: Icon Writing with Rev. Deacon Matthew Garrett
Explore the rich history and elaborate religious symbolism associated with painted icons during this hands-on workshop with Reverend Deacon Matthew Garrett. The Deesis: St. John the Baptist is the prototype for the icon that participants will paint from start to finish during the workshop. Icons will be written in acrylic on board. No previous art experience is necessary.

Cost: $400 members / $425 non-members. All supplies, lunch and snacks are included, as well as free admission to the museum for the duration of the workshop.  Deposit of $200 is required. To register call 509 773.3733 or email education@maryhillmuseum.org.


Housed in a glorious Beaux Arts mansion on 5,300 acres high above the Columbia River, Maryhill Museum of Art opened to the public May 13, 1940 and today remains one of the Pacific Northwest’s most enchanting cultural destinations. The museum was founded by Northwest entrepreneur and visionary Sam Hill, who purchased the property and began building the house with dreams of establishing a Quaker farming community. When that goal proved untenable, Hill was encouraged by friends Loie Fuller, Queen Marie of Romania, and Alma de Bretteville Spreckles to establish a museum.

Maryhill Museum of Art boasts a world-class permanent collection, rotating exhibitions of the highest caliber, and dynamic educational programs that provide opportunities for further exploration by visitors of all ages. On view are more than 80 works by Auguste Rodin, European and American paintings, objects d’art from the palaces of the Queen of Romania, Orthodox icons, unique chess sets, and the renowned Théâtre de la Mode, featuring small-scale mannequins attired in designer fashions of post-World War II France. Baskets of the indigenous people of North America were a collecting interest of Hill; today the museum’s Native American collection represents nearly every tradition and style in North America, with works of art from prehistoric through contemporary.

Maryhill’s Outdoor Sculpture Garden features more than a dozen large-scale works by Northwest artists. The Maryhill Overlook is a site-specific sculpture by noted Portland architect Brad Cloepfil; nearby are Lewis and Clark interpretive panels.

Four miles east of Maryhill is a life-sized replica of Stonehenge, Stonehenge Memorial, which Sam Hill built to memorialize local men who perished in World War I. Nearby, the Klickitat County War Memorial honors those who have died in the service of their country since World War I.

The museum was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In 2001 the museum was listed as an official site of the National Historic Lewis and Clark Trail and in 2002 was accredited by the American Association of Museums.

In 2012 the museum opened the Mary and Bruce Stevenson Wing, a 25,500 square foot expansion that is the first in the museum’s history. The new wing boasts the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Education Center, a collections storage and research suite, a new cafe and terrace, and the Cannon Power Plaza with an installation of sculpture, and sweeping views of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood in the distance.

Maryhill Museum of Art is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 15 to November 15. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $3 for youth age 7-18 and free for children 6 and under. Admission to the Stonehenge Memorial is free; it is open from 7:00 a.m. to dusk daily.

Sandwiches, salads, espresso drinks, cold beverages, and freshly baked desserts and pastries, as well as a selection of local wines are available at the museum’s cafe, Loie’s, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; the Museum Store features art and history books, jewelry, Native American crafts and other mementos.

Maryhill is located off Highway 97, 12 miles south of Goldendale, Washington. Drive times to the museum are 2 hours from Portland/Vancouver, 3.5 hours from Bend, 4 hours from Seattle, and 1.5 hours from Yakima. For further information, visit www.maryhillmuseum.org.