This museum bears the name of its founder with good reason. Merchant and art patron Alexey Bakhrushin (1865-1929) bequeathed the Academy of Sciences, Moscow, and Russia as whole, with a unique collection of artwork related to the theatre. The building itself is his own house in Luzhnetskaya StreetRussian: Luzhnetskaya ulitsa or Лужнецкая улица, now called Bakhrushina StreetRussian: ulitsa Bakhrushina or улица Бахрушина. The house was built by architect Karl Gippius in 1896 in the English Neo-Gothic style, and the original design of the building was restored in 2016-2017.
All his life, Bakhrushin was a passionate collector of anything theatre-related: playbills, sets and costume design sketches, actors’ personal belongings, stage costumes, books about the theatre, portraits of theatre personalities and many other things. He even kept newspaper clippings with play reviews. His collection began when he bought twenty two small portraits in an antique shop. Bakhrushin thought them to be 18th century works, and he was later proved right – these were the portraits of the actors of the KuskovoRussian: Кусково repertory company of Count P. Sheremeteva Russian nobleman and courtier, the richest man in Russia aside from the tsar.
The museum displays the anteroom, which retains its original decor, Alexey Bakhrushin’s reconstructed study, numerous items of theatrical art in the two halls on the ground floor, and short-term theatre-themed exhibitions. After the recent reconstruction of the museum, short-term exhibitions considerably confine the permanent display. Only a small part of A. Bakhrushin’s extensive collection is available for visitors to view. Unfortunately, the way the permanent display is exhibited causes disappointment to some guests, in the sense that it is hard to gain insight into the exhibits without a museum guide. A visitor who does not know the subject matter well will find it difficult to assess the value of all these portraits, figurines, ballet-skirts, autographed photos, drawing and sketches. Some of the most intriguing exhibits are the following: Alexey Bakhrushin’s desk, Anna Pavlova’s and Mathilde Kschessinska’s ballet shoes, a hand fan which belonged to actress Maria Yermolova, “Portrait of Actress Ekaterina Semyonova” by Karl Brullov and the portrait of Nimphodora Semyonova as the Delphic Sibyl by Orest Kiprensky, costume design sketches by Leon Bakst, theatre set design sketches by Alexander Golovin and Mstislav Dobuzhinsky. All these personalities were icons of the Russian world of art and theatre at the turn of 19-20th centuries.
Today, the largest part of the museum is occupied by a long-term exhibition entitled “18th Century Theatre in RussiaRussian: Teatr Rossii XVIII veka or Театр России XVIII века”, which reflects the work of modern specialists. It showcases the history of 18th century theatre and its connection with the country’s political and social background. The wall-mounted glass cases bear homage to the theatre of that epoch: prints, drawings, actors’ portraits, scripts from plays and wooden dolls among many other pieces. A mention of Fyodor Volkov – the actor and theatrical personality who laid the cornerstone of Russian theatre – is made in this exhibition too. He headed the repertory company of the first Russian professional theatre created by the order of Empress Elizabeththe Empress of Russia from 1741 until 1761 “About the Foundation of the Russian Theatre for Performance of Tragedies and Comedies” in 1756. In 1900, Bakhrushin bought the miraculously spared document “Charter of Nobility Granted to Grigory and Fyodor Volkov”. The only drawback of this display is that the glass cases are so tall that you cannot see some of the exhibits. This is partially compensated for by good quality electronic images of all the documents presented on the sensor screens beside.
The museum holdings store over a million and a half of the exhibits in total, including sketches, costumes, photographs, playbills, rare books, objects of arts and crafts, works by Bakst, Dobuzhinsky, Korovin, Roerich, Tatlin, Ekster, Rodchenko, and Popova; unique collections of theatrical scenery art from the 18-20th centuries and hand-written materials related to the history of 18-20th century Russian theatre, and the theatrical personalities and art patrons Bakhrushins’, Kshesinsky’s, Mamontov’s, Petipa’s, and V. Meyerhold’s archives. These unique collections are still waiting in the wings. A variety of guided tours and lectures as well as meetings with theatrical personalities enable visitors to be able to find out more about the collection.
Apart from the main building, the museum exhibits in 10 other venues: A. Ostrovsky Literary and Memorial MuseumRussian: Dom-muzey A.N. Ostrovskogo or Дом-музей А.Н. Островского, House and Museum of M. ErmolovaRussian: Dom-muzey M.N. Ermolovoy or Дом-музей М.Н. Ермоловой, Memorial house of M. ShchepkinRussian: Dom-muzey M.S. Schepkina or Дом-музей М.С. Щепкина, V. Meyerhold Memorial Apartment-museumRussian: Muzey-kvartira V.E. Meyerkholda or Музей-квартира В.Э. Мейерхольда, Memorial Apartment-museum of the family of actors M. and A. Mironov and A. MenakerRussian: Muzey-kvartira aktyorskoy semi M.V., A.A. Mironovykh i A.S. Menakera or Музей-квартира актёрской семьи М.В., А.А. Мироновых и А.С. Менакера, G. Ulanova Memorial Apartment-museumRussian: Muzey-kvartira G.S. Ulanovoy or Музей-квартира Г.С. Улановой, V. Pluchek Memorial Apartment-museumRussian: Muzey-kvartira V.N. Plucheka or Музей-квартира В.Н. Плучека, Memorial Museum “Theatre Designer D. Borovsky’s Creative Workshop”Russian: Memorialnyi muzey «Tvorcheskaya masterskaya teatralnogo khudozhnika D.L. Borovskogo» or Мемориальный музей «Творческая мастерская театрального художника Д.Л. Боровского», and the Radio Theatre Studio MuseumRussian: Muzey-studiya Radioteatra or Музей-студия Радиотеатра.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com