In 1954 a small group of Soviet emigrés set up a politically neutral Russian cultural centre at a house in Kensington Park Gardens. Two years later they moved to 46 Ladbroke Grove, which they named Pushkin House in honour of the influential author and poet, echoing the familiar name of the Institute of Russian Literature in St Petersburg.
In 2006 Pushkin House relocated to a more spacious and refined home, a grade II* listed Georgian townhouse at 5a Bloomsbury Square. Dating from the beginning of the 18th century, the house was substantially rebuilt in 1744 by Henry Flitcroft, who added the Palladian façade.
Unlike most of London’s foreign cultural centres, Pushkin House operates as an independent charity rather than a government-funded arm of an embassy. It lays on a varied programme, focusing on the arts but with a smattering of history, philosophy and politics. Events include talks, seminars, exhibitions, films, concerts and readings, mostly in English or with English subtitles in the case of Russian film screenings.
Russian language courses are run here and Pushkin House also has its own reference library of Russian culture, a corner of which is shown in the picture above (on mouseover, there’s a photo of the house’s meticulously restored staircase).