Alexander Ostrovsky’s House (Russian: Дом–музей А. Островского) is an integral part of the A. Bakhrushin Theatre Museum (Russian: Театральный музей имени А. Бахрушина) in Moscow. Alexander Nikolayevich Ostrovsky (1823-1886) was a Russian writer and one of the founders of Russian theatre.
Out of all the locations associated with Alexander Ostrovsky in Moscow, only this house in Zamoskvorechye District still exists. He was born in this house and spent the first three years of his life here as well. The interiors feature authentic furnishings from that period as well as the personal effects of Ostrovsky’s family members.
The museum will be of interest not only to lovers of Russian literature, but to many others as well; the building and its interiors allow visitors to have insight into the 19th-century lifestyle of this cozy Moscow merchant house. Most visitors to this museum, which is dwarfed by the surrounding high-rises, feel the spirit of the time and get completely immersed into the atmosphere of old Russia.
The history of the museum
The former house of a pope, where the family of N. F. Ostrovsky, a lawyer and descendant of a clergyman, rented three rooms, is a building typical of its time. It had two floors, with the wooden floor built on top of one made out of stone, and its windows once overlooked the Kremlin’s domes and towers. The sole remnant of that original house is one of the century-old poplars which could well have witnessed the birth of Alexander Ostrovsky in 1823. The nearby wooden Church of the Intercession of the Theotokos at Goliki (Russian: церковь Покрова Богородицы в Голиках) was destroyed in 1931.
Today, this historic building, along with the surrounding area and its interior, wonderfully recreates the atmosphere of the old merchant district of Zamoskvorechye, so familiar to Ostrovsky. A few similar houses have survived on Malaya Ordynka Street too. The Ostrovsky family must have often taken in the view at the nearby St. Nicholas Church in Pyzhy (Russian: храм святителя Николая в Пыжах), dating back to 1672, and that of the Panagia Portaitissa in Vspolye (Russian: храм Иверской иконы Божьей Матери на Всполье), built in 1802, which then towered over the whole neighbourhood.
The restored house where the Ostrovskys once lived became a museum in 1984, and a beautiful parterre was laid out in the garden, giving a riot of colour from spring to late autumn. A monument to Ostrovsky by G. Motovilov was set up on the site of the destroyed church, where Ostrovsky was baptized five days after his birth.
Ostrovsky’s house today
The museum can be roughly divided into two halves. On the first floor are exhibits associated with Alexander Ostrovsky and his family. The exhibition on the upper floor is dedicated to Ostrovsky’s contribution to the theatre, testimonies to his colleagues and friends, stage sets from productions based on his plays and many more. The lower rooms are somewhat cramped, in line with how residential apartments looked and felt like at the time. On the second floor is a suite of more spacious rooms.
The wooden detailing on the walls adds a touch of coziness to the museum’s interior and recreates the atmosphere of fireside comfort and charming simplicity. The floor and narrow staircases with its carved railing are made of wood, too. An old, dull mirror in a wooden frame hangs on the wall of the modest entrance hall, completing the sensation of undertaking a journey back in time, where everything has remained the way it was two hundred years ago.
Visitors can have a look around the small, simply furnished rooms with white curtains on the windows. The study with its antique writing desk, a sofa and armchairs and the bedroom of Alexander Ostrovsky’s parents, Nikolay Fyodorovich and Lyubov Ivanovna are available to view. Of special interest is Ostrovsky’s personal decorated cassette that stands on the dresser. The living room features an ornate triple mirror hanging over a stylish table, as well as an antique clavichord.
The upper rooms introduce visitors to the world of theatre. You will first see an old miniature Maly Theatre created with great precision, followed by rooms devoted to Ostrovsky’s plays (The Storm, Without a Dowry, A Profitable Position and others) displaying stage sets, photographs of actors and their personal belongings. Of interest are the mockups of the stage for Late Love and Ostrovsky’s personal workbench, which he used to carve objects out of wood in his leisure time. There are, in total, nine exhibition rooms in the museum.
The exhibition on display in Ostrovsky’s House is quite self-explanatory, so no guided tours are offered. The museum also hosts chamber concerts and children’s Christmas parties, popular among both children and adults.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com