To the Roots of Russia’s Stonecutting Art

Kolyvan village is known as a national centre for stonecutting with a 200-year long history.

Project geography

Village of Kolyvan, one of the oldest settlements in the Altai region (Siberia). Located 86 km from the administrative centre, the town of Barnaul, 3,800 km from Moscow. Population – 1,150 people.

Project Lead
Irina Kupina

Project Description

Kolyvan village is known as a national centre for stonecutting with a 200-year long history. The only stonecutting plant in Russia still in operation — the Kolyvan factory, named after the inventor I.Polzunov — is located here. Despite this, there has been a declining interest over the years in the profession of stonecutters among young people living in the area. A lack of employment opportunities and low standards of living has driven local people to the cities.

The 2017 project aimed to raise the social status of stonecutting and to recruit young specialists into the profession, ensuring that the rich cultural traditions of the community do not become forgotten. The team developed a public programme of events and activities, including tours of the Kolyvan stonecutting plant, local ore-mining museum and the Museum of Stonecutting History in the Altai mountains; arranged a series of workshops on the traditional Florentine technique of stone mosaics; and organized a children’s expedition to ore deposits and stone quarries. A total of 300 people took part in these events, most of them children and teenagers.

As a result of the first phase, three young specialists have been employed by the Kolyvan stonecutting factory. For the first time in 20 years, it has been agreed to run an apprenticeship scheme for students and to offer early-career advice and a range of free training opportunities for younger children interested in the stonecutting profession.

Objectives of the next phase

The next phase will focus on expanding the project’s reach by engaging new partners from surrounding areas, building an effective collaborative network. A culture and tourist centre will open in the nearby village of Kamenka and become a local activities hub, arranging temporary exhibitions and permanent displays; developing mountain trails and hiking routes; organizing expeditions, learning, cultural, and sports events for all age groups; and promoting local traditions and customs. Visitors will be able to get detailed information about the local tourist offer, and heritage and natural sites, as well as buy organic produce and handmade souvenirs. Furthermore, the centre will become an experimental ground for the development of local initiatives and an important community space for networking and sharing ideas.

At the moment, tourism in the area is practiced in a sporadic and seasonal way. The long-term objective of the project is to develop a sustainable model for rural tourism, which will integrate various types of recreation and leisure activities: gastronomy, crafts, hiking, learning, events, history, etc. There are plans to open a centre to support beekeeping and promote produce from local farmers. These will all provide additional opportunities for business growth and sustainable self-employment for local residents.


Project team

Project lead
Irina Kupina