The Twelve Collegia building on Vasilievsky Island in Saint Petersburg is the university's main building and the seat of the rector and administration (the building was constructed on the orders of Peter the Great for the 12 collegia).
Ivan Vladimirovich graduated from the Shuisky Theological College and the Vladimir Theological Seminary (1866). He also studied briefly at the Imperial Medical and Surgical Academy, but quit, citing poor health, and enrolled at Saint Petersburg State University instead; following a course in Classical Studies and graduating in 1870 as a "Candidate in the Sciences".
Ivan Vladimirovich became a teacher of Classical Greek Studies at a gymnasium in Saint Petersburg. This only lasted a short time as, in 1872, he was appointed a lecturer at the Imperial University of Warsaw (now the University of Warsaw), where he presented a dissertation on Tacitus to obtain his habilitation in 1873.
In 1874, Ivan Vladimirovich traveled to Italy to study the ancient Italic languages and writings. In 1876, he was called to the Saint Vladimir Royal University of Kiev, but only a year later was presented with a position at the Moscow State University as a candidate for the Chair of the Latin literature department.
Ivan Vladimirovich married Varvara Ilovayskaya, an opera singer. Under her influence, he gradually switched his interests from Classical philology to antiquities. After 1881, he worked at the Rumyantsev Museum, serving as its Director from 1900 to 1910. In 1888, he was named an honorary faculty member at the University of Bologna. By the following year, Ivan Vladimirovich had made a part-time return to the academic world as the Chair of Art History and Theory at Moscow University. He also became a contributor to a journal, the Philological Review.
In 1894, at the "First Congress of Artists and Art Lovers", Ivan Vladimirovich presented plans for a new museum of fine arts, inspired by a visit to the Albertinum in Dresden, where he became lifelong friends with Georg Treu, the head of its world-famous Skulpturensammlung. A design competition was organized and the award went to Roman Klein. In 1897, Ivan Vladimirovich was able to secure the wealthy glassware manufacturer, Yury Nechaev-Maltsov, as the museum's primary sponsor. The cornerstone was laid in 1899 and the museum was officially opened in 1912. Ivan Vladimirovich served as its first Director until his death a year later. Originally the "Alexander III Museum of Fine Arts", is now known as the Pushkin Museum.
Ivan Vladimirovich married Varvara Ilovayskaya, an opera singer. Varvara died in 1890 and he remarried in 1891; to Maria Meyn, a pianist. They had two daughters; Marina and Anastasia, both of whom became well-known poets and writers.