Anna Akhmatova Museum: Fragments of Memories
When travelling in Russia, especially in the main cities you immediately notice that there are plenty of museums to visit. They are actually so many that you wouldn’t probably be able to see all of them even during a long stay in this country. In particular you can find many of the so-called house-museums in St Petersburg and Moscow; they are almost in every main street of the city centre. These are buildings in which famous writers and artists lived and that were turned into a museum.
In St. Petersburg, in Liteiny prospekt, a lively and bustling street that goes perpendicular to Nevsky prospekt is located Музей Анны Ахматовой (Muzei Anny Akhmatovoi). It’s in the southern wing of the Sheremetevsky Palace, a noble residence and one of the oldest palaces in St. Petersburg. The residence was assigned to Anna Akhmatova’s third husband, the art historian Николай Пунин (Nikolai Punin), and she lived there until her death in 1966.
The decision to set up the museum was taken by the Leningrad Executive Committee in 1988 during the 100th anniversary of Akhmatova’s birth, but the official opening was on June 24, 1989. At that time it didn’t take too much for the approval of the exposition and there was no single hint on it from the censorship. So the museum was easily established as if the city was aware of its fault to Akhmatova and was looking to forget its totalitarian past.
The exposition consists of materials, documents, photographs and personal Akhmatova’s things, collected mainly from Akhmatova’s friends and contemporaries in Leningrad and Moscow. All this work demanded a lot of effort but it came out that a lot of people still admire ad appreciate her. Her personal history is strongly bounded to st. Petersburg’s destiny and the hard times during the Stalinist terror. Instead of emigrating Akhmatova decided to remain in Russia and witness the atrocities around her that deeply influenced her works.
The museum displays the original furniture and the poet’s artefacts: Akhmatova’s photographs, artwork, sculpture, and original manuscripts are organised in thematic and interactive installations. There is a whole room devoted to these interactive installations through which you can get specific information about the objects displayed as soon as you move you hand closer to this fragments of memories, as they were called in the museum. There are also some explanations in English but I suggest you buy the audio guide for a easier and more pleasant visit. In the same building there are also two exhibition halls for temporary art exhibitions by contemporary local artists.
The exhibition hall on the second floor often hosts cultural evenings and events connected with art, literature and Russian artists. What is really amazing is that during house museum visits in Russia you can easily meet with the artists’ descendants. Many of these famous Russian above all in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, participate actively in cultural events connected with their famous ancestors. So it happened to me to see Анна Каминская (Anna Kaminskaya )N. Punin’s granddaughter during my visit to Anna Akhmatova Museum. That’s probably not a big deal but I think this small encounters make your visit much more interesting and the things you see and read about the artists’ life much more real and close to you.
Anna Akhmatova Museum website
Written by: Jessica Carrettiero
Photo Credit: Creative Commons