Images of Russia

Alexander Pushkin Museum and Memorial Apartment

The poet brought his big family from Kamennoostrovsky datcha (country house) to the house of princes Volkonsky. Pushkin rented an apartment in the autumn of 1836 and lived there until 29 January (10 February according to the new belief) of the next year. Having moved there he wrote to his father Sergey Lvovich, “New Year is coming; God grant it were happier for us than the one which is finishing”. This how a well-known Pushkin researcher Yuri Lotman describes this period of the poet's life, “ A.I. Turgenev who was frequently meeting the poet wrote in his diary on 21 December 1836 that Pushkin was full of ideas”. Yet it was one of the most dramatic moments in the life of the poet. This was the time when Pushkin challenged Dantes to a duel for the first time. Dantes, who wanted to avoid the duel (as Pushkin believed) or at the order of Tzar Nikolai I (there also exists such a version) proposed to Katerina, Natalia Nikolaevna's sister. Dantes proposed on November 4, 1836, and the wedding was held on January 10, 1837 . It is easy to imagine what the poet was going through and what he was feeling during those days. Still, it was at this time that he was full of ideas. His creative thought flow was not stopped even for a moment. His existence was filled with creativity. At that torturous period the poet was working on several pieces at once. He was planning to write comments about The Song of Igor's Campaign (Slovo o Polku Igoreve), while at the same time he was finishing The Captain's daughter and The Mermaid poem. In addition, he contemplated on the fate of his Sovremennik (Contemporary) journal. Besides painstaking work the poet was engaged in noisy family life. He lived in 11 rooms, which he shared with Alexander Sergeevich, his wife, Natalia Nikolaevna Goncharova, their four children, Natalia Nikolaevna's sister and mother, as well as nannies, governesses, maids and other domestic servants, with the number totalling up to 16 people . There were also serfs that came from the village and were brought to the city.

The population of those living in the apartment influenced the museum exposition. It was created almost a century after the family of the deceased poet left the apartment near the Moika river. In 1925 the research and educational society “Old Petersburg” whose membership included renowned people of art obtained the rights for this apartment. After the death of the poet the house was repeatedly rebuilt, thus the revival of the atmosphere and the way of life of the last months of Pushkin's life took many years. The first several rooms were open for exhibition in February 1927.

Today the Museum and Memorial Apartment on the Moika has reproduced the anteroom, dining room, children's room, Pushkin's study and Goncharova's study, as well as her relatives' rooms. In the course of reconstruction the apartment turned from an 11-room apartment into a 13-room apartment because the basement floor was added to it.

The most impressive part of the apartment is the poet's office where he spent the last 46 hours of his life. Pushkin's vest stained with blood from the wound he suffered in the duel is exhibited here. One can also see the couch where he met his painful death (the bullet shattered the poet's hipbones and tore his intestines, still he did not allow himself to even groan) and a mantel clock that was stopped at 2.45 pm at the time of the poet's death. The office study reproduces the enormous Pushkin library using the doublet originals. Special attention should be given to the desk behind which Pushkin used to work and his personal things at the table: a pipe, a quill pen and the bronze inkwell with a figure of an Arab boy presented by Pavel Nashchokin. There are also portraits of friends on the walls. There is also a gift from the poet Vasily Zhukovsky sent to Pushkin after the poem’ Ruslan and Ludmila’ was published, with the legendary inscription, “To pupil winner from the defeated teacher”. To restore the interior cabinet Zhukovsky's sketches were used, which were made immediately after the death of Pushkin. The poet's wife's study is not much inferior. It contains a fascinating collection of fine women's petite things: scent bottle, jewelry, jewelry box in which she kept letters from her husband, purses embroidered with silk and beads, as well as her wedding shoes.

The exhibition presents a series of rooms once occupied by members of the Pushkin family. Two former basement rooms contain things associated with the death of the poet: a death mask by sculptor Galberg and a lock of hair cut from the head of the deceased Pushkin at the request of Ivan Turgenev. Pushkin's death made a great impression on his contemporaries. One of them recalled that the tomb of the poet was visited by an unprecedented number of people and even a wall in Pushkin's apartment was broken to be open to the public. Today people do not come to house 12 at the Moika to say goodbye to a great poet, but to meet him and his creative work.

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