A Captive Spirit: Marina Tsvetaeva’s Russia

November 13, 2019

There are more museums dedicated to Russian and Soviet poet Marina Tsvetaeva and her family in Russia than to any other poet. Here is a list of the top places to visit in Tsvetaeva’s Russia, which are dotted all over the country, from Tarusa to Feodosia. Let’s get started, or as the Russians say — Poekhali!

Marina Tsvetaeva Memorial flat & Museum in Moscow

Marina Tsvetaeva, her husband Sergei Efron and their two-year-old daughter Ariadna moved into an apartment on the second floor of a four-apartment building in Borisoglebsky Lane in September 1914. The family occupied the only duplex apartment in the building, the apartment no. 3, with access to the attic, and they lived here for eight years.

This is the “House-Ship” with its “Attic Palace” and its grand old staircase, which almost had the homely charm of a Russian manor, that Marina Tsvetaeva considered her home her entire life. Out of the 15 books Tsvetaeva published throughout her life, 11 of them were written in this apartment.

In 2017, the Museum underwent reconstruction, the living room was opened to visitors, the “Renegade-Room”, as Tsvetaeva called it. The house has preserved the spirit of Tsvetaeva’s family life: there are old photographs, “a mountain of handwritten papers”, 19th century furniture, porcelain, toy houses and a gramophone in the corner.

The Museum is open from 12:00 to 19:00 (21:00 on Thursdays) every day except Monday and the last Friday of each month. Adult ticket cost 200 rubles, and 100 rubles for people who are eligible for discounts. Thematic and customized tours of the house can be booked by phone +7 (495) 697-53-69; at an additional cost of 400 to 500 rubles per person. On Thursdays at 19:00 and every Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 there are sightseeing tours for groups which you do not need to book in advance, just arrive at the scheduled time. An audio guide is also available on the museum’s website.

Tsvetaev Family House-Museum in Novo-Talitsy

The wooden parish building in the village of Novo-Talitsy on the banks of the Verguza River near Ivanovo was acquired by the poet’s grandfather and priest Vladimir Tsvetaev in 1853. Three generations of the Tsvetaev family lived there until 1928. Four Tsvetaev brothers grew up there: Pyotr, Ivan (who founded and was first Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, and he was Marina’s father), Fedor and Dmitry. In recent years, the family of Pyotr’s eldest son have lived there.

The house became the Tsvetaev Family House-Museum in 1995. Not only can you learn about how the poet’s family used to live, but you can also learn about peasant life and the life of the rural clergy in 19th-century Russia at the museum. There are also personal belongings, books, prayer books, and archival photographs on display there. There are now guided tours for adults and games for children, as well as wedding ceremonies held there. On the last weekend of May every year, the museum hosts readings of Tsvetaeva’s work.

The museum is open from 11:00 to 17:00 every day except Monday. The entry fee for adults is 50 rubles, and 20 rubles for schoolchildren and students. A guided excursion costs 350 rubles. The museum can be reached on public transport from the center of Ivanovo on shuttle buses nos. 119, 121a, 129, and 141 via Pushkin Square (ploshchad Pushkina), or on bus no. 111, and 119 from Victory Square (Ploshchad Pobedy) via Pushkin Square.

Marina Tsvetaeva Memorial Complex in Yelabuga
In August 1941, Marina Tsvetaeva was evacuated to Yelabuga, where she and her son Georgy were given a room to rent in the family home of the Brodelshchikovs. She only lived in Yelabuga for 11 days — Marina Tsvetaeva committed suicide 31 August, she could not go on living like this.

The interior of the rooms in the Marina Tsvetaeva Memorial Complex have been faithfully restored. Her beret lies on top of her unpacked suitcases, and a knitted blanket is thrown over the couch. You can feel the “eternal twilight and eternal bells”. The most valuable of the collection’s exhibits is a French notebook with a Moroccan leather binding, which was taken out of the pocket of her apron after the tragedy.

This house and museum are part of Yelabuga’s Memorial Complex, which also includes Marina Tsvetaeva Square (Ploshchad Mariny Ivanovny Tsvetaevoy) with a bronze monument, the poet’s grave and a cultural center in her name.

The house and museum Yelabuga’s Marina Tsvetaeva Memorial Complex are on 20 Malaya Pokrovskaya Street. The museum is open from 9:00 to 18:00 every day except Monday.

Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaeva Museum in Feodosia

Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaeva lived in Feodosia between October 17, 1913 and June 1, 1914. The exhibition in the town’s museum is devoted to this period in the lives of the two sisters. The rooms contain the family’s personal belongings, their writings, unique photographs and books. This museum and apartment attempts to recreate the atmosphere of Feodosia before the war, “full of cozy families, friendly festive gatherings, the expectations of guests, and naive admiration for talent.”

“This is a fairy tale by Gauf, a piece of Constantinople... and we have realized — Marina and I — that Feodosia is a magical city, and that we have fallen in love with it forever,” Anastasia Tsvetaeva wrote in Memoirs (Vospominaniya).

In summer, the museum is open seven days a week from 10:00 to 18:00; and from 12:00 to 20:00 on Fridays (the ticket office closes at 19:15). In winter, it is open from 10:00 to 16:00, and is closed on Mondays. Tickets cost 80 rubles for adults, and 50 rubles for children and students, which includes a tour.

Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaeva Literature and Art Museum in Alexandrov

Marina Tsvetaeva had her “Alexandrov summer” in 1916, while her younger sister Anastasia was living in the city with her husband Maurice Mintz. He worked on a construction site for a local military factory. The family rented a dilapidated house built in the first half of the 19th century on the outskirts of Alexandrov — a town in the Vladimir Region.

“Little hut on the water’s edge (and what is there in this town that is not on the edge?), facing with its porch the ravine. A small wooden hut, like Baba Yaga’s. In winter — only the oven (with forks, with a hearth!), in the summer — only wild life: greenery, growing in through the window,” wrote Tsvetaeva.

The house in where the Tsvetaev family once lived is now in disrepair. The museum exhibition is located in the neighboring building — in the Lebedev house. It recreates the atmosphere of Russian poetry’s Silver Age, with early 20th-century furniture, German Bechstein pianos and archival photographs. Almost none of Tsvetaeva’s personal belongings are on display there, with the exception of a desk where she had sat and written poetry. This is a “museum of metaphors”, where each exhibit is a reflection of something in Tsvetaeva’s work.

The museum is open daily from 8:30 to 17:00, except on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Tarussky Museum of Tsvetaeva’s Family

Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaeva spent their winters in the town of Tarusa between 1907 and 1910. The sisters lived in the so-called “House of Thio”, bought in 1899 by their maternal grandfather Alexander Danilovich Mein. The house is on 30 Rosa Luxemburg Street.

The museum displays furniture from the house in Moscow (in Trekhprudny Lane) where Marina Tsvetaeva was born, as well as items belonging to the poet, her relatives, loved ones, and friends from Tarus.

Once every two years in October, the museum hosts scholarly readings of the poet’s work, and celebrates a day dedicated to Marina Tsvetaeva every year on the first Saturday of October.

The museum is open from 10:00 to 17:00, except on Mondays and the last Friday of each month.

(By Russian sources)

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