The Chekhov State Literary and Memorial Museum in MelikhovoRussian: Gosudarstvennyi literaturno-memorialnyi muzey zapovednik A. P. Chehova v Melihovo<br /><br /><br />
or Государственный литературно-мемориальный музей заповедник А. П. Чехова в Мелихово is the principal museum in Russia dedicated to the life and creative work of the great writer who enriched the world of literature with works such as The Seagull, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya, The House with the Mezzanine, and other masterpieces. Seventy kilometres away from Moscow, this place has preserved the mansion perfectly, as well as the outbuilding, the garden of the estate, and the schools built by Chekhov. The original interiors of the rooms where the writer worked and his family lived have been recreated down to the last detail. The permanent exhibition consists of about 30,000 unique items. They include not only the manuscripts and personal possessions of the great writer but also the paintings by his friends Igor Levitan and Vasily Polenov as well as objects of everyday rural life from the 19th century.
The museum offers various guided tours, hosts the prestigious Melikhovo Spring International Theatre FestivalRussian: mezhdunarodnyi teatralnyi festival «Melihovskaya vesna» or международный театральный фестиваль «Мелиховская весна», the annual ‘Seagull DayRussian: «Chaykin» den or «Чайкин» день’ (November 18), a recital competition, and special interactive programmes for children where they can participate together with their parents. Since 2006, the museum has been home to a theatre that produces plays inspired by Chekhov’s stories on Saturdays (The Mistress, The Bear, Psychopaths, Antosha Chekhonte’s Garden Theatre, Uncle Vanya). Some plays have been rated among the best theatrical events by the Golden Mask Awarda Russian theatre festival and the National Theatre Award established in 1994 by the Theatre Union of Russia. Vividly themed programmes in Russian traditions are prepared for holidays: New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Maslenitsaan Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday, celebrated during the last week before Great Lent, Saviour of the Apple Feast Dayan Eastern Slavic folk holiday, which is observed on August 19, falling on the Feast of the Transfiguration, etc.
Not only does the Melikhovo Estate MuseumRussian: muzey-usadba Melihovo or музей-усадьба Мелихово tell the story and genius of the great writer, but it also offers an extensive variety of activities which can take all day. You can visit Chekhov’s surgery (called the ‘AmbulatoryRussian: Амбулатория’), see peasants’ living conditions of the 19th century, climb Levitan’s HillRussian: «Levitanovskaya» gorka or «Левитановская» горка, walk along the Alley of LoveRussian: Alleya lubvi or Аллея любви, and even learn to play croquet or ride a horse.
CHEKHOV IN MELIKHOVO
Anton Chekhov bought this small estate in the village of Melikhovo near Moscow in 1892. The Museum is located in a stunningly beautiful place in the southern suburb of Moscow, 12 kilometres away from the Chekhov Railway StationRussian: zheleznodorozhnaya stantsiya «Chehov» or железнодорожная станция «Чехов» (the Kursk lineRussian: Kurskoe napravlenie or Курское направление, about an hour from Moscow). Chekhov once wrote: “If I am a doctor, then I need sick people and a hospital; if I am a writer, then I need to live among people… I need a piece of social and political life, at least a scrap—but this life within four walls, without nature, without people… it’s not a life.” The writer furnished and decorated his new estate himself. Having a true love for and understanding of nature, he tilled the land skillfully and engaged readily in gardening. This comes as no surprise if we remember that the Chekhov family had a peasant background. The writer lived in Melikhovo together with his brother, the artist Mikhail, his sister Maria and his father Pavel. Shortly after Pavel’s death in 1899, the Chekhovs sold the estate and moved to Yaltaa resort city on the south coast of the Crimean Peninsula surrounded by the Black Sea. Until his dying day, Anton Chekhov desperately wanted to visit Melikhovo, but his serious illness was an impassable obstacle: following his doctors’ recommendations, he lived in Crimea.
While Chekhov lived in Melikhovo, he worked as a doctor for the local people. The rumour that there was now a doctor in the neighbourhood spread very quickly. Chekhov himself declared: “I am not a landowner, I am a doctor”. He “received patients, some walking on their own and others brought in carts, and was taken to still other sick ones far away.” “From the early morning, there were women and children in front of his house, expecting to get medical help,” his brother recalled. Later, Chekhov also participated in an anti-cholera vaccination campaign, worked at medical aid stations in KryukovoRussian: Крюково and UgryumovoRussian: Угрюмово villages, and put in a lot of effort to get three rural schools opened.
It was in Melikhovo that Chekhov felt overwhelming creative inspiration and often wrote all night long, night after night. His thoughts were fed by living among ordinary people and practicing medicine, and his stories are full of vivid characters and picturesque descriptions of everyday rural life. Melikhovo was where he wrote his 42 masterpieces: the famous Ward No.6, The House with the Mezzanine, The Muzhiks, The Man in a Case, Ionych, Anna on the Neck, About Love, On Official Duty, the world-famous plays Uncle Vanya and The Seagull, etc. The outbuilding in which Chekhov liked to write so much is still preserved in Melikhovo; you will see a memorial plaque commemorating The Seagull on its wall.
The Chekhov Museum in Melikhovo was opened in 1940. By that time, the estate had fallen into desolation. It was sheer luck that it was not been damaged during the hostilities of the 1941–1945. The main house was restored in the 1950s with the participation of the writer’s sister Maria, who remembered the furnishings in the house well, and his nephew Sergey. Sergey found a plan of Chekhov’s estate and donated some family heirlooms, photos, documents, and the furnishings of the dining room to the museum. Some of the exhibits were brought from the Taganrog MuseumRussian: Taganrogskiy muzey or Таганрогский музей. The last note Chekhov sent from Melikhovo and the estate purchase and sale agreement are considered to be the most valuable ones among them. The museum collection comprises nearly 20,000 exhibits related to Chekhov, but only a small part of them is on display in the permanent exhibition.
Eight rooms of Chekhov’s house and the garden recreated to match Chekhov’s plan are available to the public today. The mansion presents the authentic interior of the writer’s study, his bedroom, the drawing room, the dining room, as well as the bedrooms of Maria and Pavel. The museum keeps paintings by famous Russian artists Vasily Polenov and Isaac Levitan as well as Nikolai Chekhov’s works, Maria Chekhova’s sketches of Melikhovo, and other art relics. The ‘Chekhov Bell’ hanging on a pole beside the house used to be regularly struck at noon, effectively announcing lunch time for almost the entire Melikhovo neighbourhood. A monument to the writer by sculptor Georgy Motovilov was erected in front of the museum in 1951. It looks particularly impressive in summer, when it is surrounded by flowers.
The writer’s personal study is the heart of the museum. It presents Chekhov’s writing desk with his favourite pen, pencil, inkwell, the famous pince-nez, and a portrait of Tchaikovsky under the glass surface. In the corner, there is a rocking chair: sitting in it, Chekhov might have been thinking of storylines for his new short stories and plays. In the drawing room, the famous Melikhovo windows call for attention. Pointed upwards and glazed with multicoloured glass, they have become the symbol of the museum. A large piano and numerous portraits on the walls demonstrated where the Chekhovs spent their evenings – a place where music was played, and where their family and friends met.
There is a long table set with the Chekhovs’ ancient crockery in the centre of the dining room, which also recreates the original layout and furnishings. Close by, you can see the Chekhovs’ genuine samovar. This cosy dining room was the place for the whole writer’s family and their guests to come together at one table.
The bedrooms have something about them that brings monastic cells to mind: these are small rooms with a lot of light. Their furnishings tell about the owners’ lifestyle more than any words could tell. For instance, Chekhov’s father compiled a library of ancient books, which he kept in his room along with medicinal herbs and the Melikhovo journal in which he chronicled life at the estate. Maria Chekhova had a very large portrait of her beloved brother Anton in her bedroom.
Make sure you visit the outbuilding in Melikhovo. It only has two rooms: one served as Chekhov’s surgery and the other was where he used to write, often alone in the silence of the night, into the early hours. The outbuilding was constructed in 1894 and played a special role in the writer’s life over the next three years. Gooseberries, About Love, and The Man in a Case were created there.
The Melikhovo estate also has a bathhouse (banyaRussian: баня) and a cookhouse, separate wooden structures. They are now part of the museum and reserve. Today, the cookhouse displays Russian peasants’ everyday life of the late 19th–early 20th centuries.
The Chekhov Museum and Reserve takes visitors to the by-gone days of the Russia of the 19th century. This tiny picturesque corner will plunge you into the atmosphere of rural life, providing the opportunity to touch the writer’s world and discover more about his creative heritage. As Olga Knipper-Chekhovaa Russian and Soviet stage actress, Chekhov's wife recalled, “Melikhovo left a large, indelible mark on the writer’s life. He loved it so much and was attached to it with all his poetic soul… It was here in Melikhovo that he—again—got to know Russian life, Russian nature, and Russian people, whom he loved very much.”© 2016-2018 moscovery.com