The Marina Tsvetaeva House MuseumRussian: Dom-muzey Mariny Tsvetaevoy or Дом-музей Марины Цветаевой is of interest to those who admire the Russian poets of the Silver Agean exceptionally creative period in the history of Russian poetry of the 19th century and first two or three decades of the 20th century, as well as those interested in Russian history. Marina Tsvetayeva lived in this house with her husband Sergei Efron and her daughters during eight years of revolution and war, a crucial period for both her family life and her creative work.
The young family spent a few happy years followed by difficult times between 1914 and 1922. This period was spent in a mansion in Borisoglebsky LaneRussian: Borisoglebskiy pereulok or Борисоглебский переулок near ArbatRussian: Арбат Street. Efron and Tsvetaeva rented a flat on the second floor of this building in the year Tsvetaeva turned 21. During this period, she became known for her poetry, met with friends and like-minded people and later endured appalling hardship, losing her younger daughter in the hungry post-revolutionary years. It is from this flat that, aged 30, she left Russia.
History of the building and of the museum
Located in Borisoglebsky Lane, the building was built in 1862 in the Moscow classical style. It consisted of four flats and looked like both an urban estate and a tenement house with a highly unusual layout, featuring ornate interior staircases and corridors, windows popping up in strange places and an inhabited attic. All of this gave the mansion an air of cosiness and charm. After a long search, Tsvetaeva decided to move into this mansion, situated in the very heart of Moscow. By all account, she loved living here.
Flat No 3 contained eight rooms furnished with care and a touch of fantasy. Sophia Parnok, Osip MandelstamRussian poets and many others would often come to the Efrons’ home, a welcoming haven for their family and friends. During the hard years between 1918 and 1922, Marina Tsvetaeva had to bid farewell to most of her antiques and relied on her furniture to burn for firewood. In wintertime, she would stay in the kitchen with her daughters Ariadna and Irina. As for Sergei Efron, he was fighting the Bolsheviksmembers of a wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, which, led by Lenin, seized control of the government in Russia (October 1917) and became the dominant political power in the Volunteer armyan anti-Bolshevik army during the Russian Civil War of 1918–1920 and there were long periods of silence with no news from him.
In Soviet times, the building fell into decay and later underwent unsuccessful renovations, which significantly simplified both the interior and exterior. In 1979, the authorities decided to demolish the building but it was saved from destruction by one of the residents, N. I. Katayeva-Lytkina, who refused to move out. The academic Dmitry Likhachev and other cultural figures also did a lot to save this building as it was significantly associated with the life of Marina Tsvetaeva. In 1991, a memorial plaque was installed on the mansion, and one year later, it was converted into a museum. Today, the building is an architectural landmark protected by the State.
As well as the memorial flat and its exhibitions dedicated to Marina Tsvetaeva, the mansion houses an archive of the works of other Russian writers who lived abroad, including I. Bunin, A. Kuprin, D. Merezhkovsky, Z. Gippius and others. It also features a research library, a concert hall and the Poets’ CaféRussian: Kafe poetov or Кафе поэтов, a venue hosting various literary and artistic events and conferences on Marina Tsvetaeva. These are attended by researchers from all over the world. The Marina Tsvetaeva Museum includes some 25,000 exhibits, with a total area of 150 sq. m. allocated to the permanent exhibition. Another 80 sq. m. are allocated for special exhibitions. Every year, 30,000 people visit this museum. A cloakroom and a book kiosk are located in the basement.
The museum is located on the second floor of the mansion. Visitors first attend the Moscow exhibition of books and photographs related to Marina Tsvetaeva and then examine the reconstructed flat. On display are many early 20th–century pieces of furniture and objects that belonged to Tsvetaeva and her family. Exhibits from the war period add a tragic flair to what would otherwise be the ordinary family home of a talented poet. The Lake of Geneva, a painting by Sergei Efron’s mother, and portraits of Tsvetaeva’s family members hang on the walls of the living room, illuminated with a skylight. In Tsvetaeva’s room, visitors can see photographs of Sarah Bernhardt and Napoleon, both of whom were venerated by Tsvetaeva, reproductions of VrubelRussian painter, sculptor, and draftsman who was a pioneer of Modernism with an original vision’s paintings, and a portrait of her husband Sergei Efron and other exhibits.
The flat’s largest room belonged to the children, and it is full of furniture, toys and books dating back to that time. On display are a miniature version of the dacha in Tarusaa town in Kaluga Oblast, located on the left bank of the Oka River, where two young sisters, Marina and Anastasia Tsvetaeva, lived happily with their parents. Under the room is the ‘Attic PalaceRussian: Cherdachnyi dvorets or Чердачный дворец’, a small room where Sergei Efron once spent time. It contains an authentic card table and a suitcase that belonged to Tsvetaeva. The flat’s unusual interior layout and design, courtesy of Marina Tsvetaeva herself, recalls her presence.