Sunday, December 30, 2012

Museums in Russia: Polenovo, Tsvetaeva, Paustovskiy

This past summer during vacation in Russia we went on a day trip to a small town Tarusa in Kaluzhskaya Oblast - about 90 miles South West of Moscow. The town of Tarusa is known to have existed since 1246. During the Soviet period, Tarusa became the place where dissidents and people repressed by the Soviet authorities used to settle, since they were not allowed to live in Moscow, Leningrad and the capitals of all Soviet republics. Today the population of Tarusa is about 10,000 people. Some photos from this trip are in this Picasa Album.

Tarusa has few popular museums - the Tarusa regional museum of local lore and the Museum of the Tsvetayevs family (Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva) as well as museum of famous Russian writer Konstantin Paustovskiy. But the best of them all is the museum of Vasiliy Polenov, located not far from Tarusa, on the bank of Oka river. We drove to Tarusa by car. It was very easy to get to and the road was nicely paved. We got there in the morning and drove to the center of the town where the local market is (called "bazar") - right on the bank of Oka river.

 The ship goes to museum few times a week - leaves Tarusa at 12pm and comes back at 3:30pm. I found schedule on this site (but you may want to google for updates). The ticket was quite inexpensive and the trip one way takes about 35 minutes. While on the ship you can look around and better have your camera with you - Oka river is small, but beautiful! I was amazed to learn that it was only one or two meters deep, while being about 100 meters wide.

Once we got to the museum, we bought tickets and took a tour. We all loved it! The tour guide was quite passionate and very knowledgeable. Every room of the house is filled with paintings old furniture and many historical artifacts. Polenov himself designed and built the house around 1892 having in mind that this will become a museum and indeed - the house is designated as a museum since about 1918. Vasiliy Polenov was quite extraordinary man - excellent artist who advanced the art of painting and produced a number of excellent works. He was also an engineer, sculptor and educator.

His painting of the Jesus and the Sinner Woman (see prototype below in black and white) took him almost 30 years to produce, considering all of the historical research and travel he had done to develop that story and pain the final work. He has used real people as models and ordered all the costumes shown in the picture. The painting was considered against the church at the time, but was bought by the emperor of Russia.

After having returned from the Polenovo museum back to Tarusa we went to vosit the museum of Marina Tsvetaeva - russian poet. Unfortunately we only had 30 minutes before the museum was closed, but still had a good look. To quote wikipedia:

"Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (RussianМари́на Ива́новна Цвета́ева8 October 1892 – 31 August 1941) was a Russian and Soviet poet. Her work is considered among some of the greatest in twentieth century Russian literature. She lived through and wrote of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine that followed it. In an attempt to save her daughter Irina from starvation, she placed her in a state orphanage in 1919, where she died of hunger. Tsvetaeva left Russia in 1922 and lived with her family in increasing poverty in Paris, Berlin and Prague before returning to Moscow in 1939. Her husband Sergei Efron and her daughter Ariadna Efron (Alya) were arrested on espionage charges in 1941; and her husband was executed. Tsvetaeva committed suicide in 1941. As a lyrical poet, her passion and daring linguistic experimentation mark her as a striking chronicler of her times and the depths of the human condition."

After that we went to the museum of Russian writer Konstantin Paustovskiy. The museum opened in the summer of 2012, so we were among the first visitors to the museum.

Some useful links for the Polenovo museum:


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