The great Soviet rocket scientist and engineer Sergei Korolev (1906–1966) spent the last seven years of his life in this house, which was transformed into a museum in 1975. Before that, Korolev, the ingenious father of Russian astronautics, had lived and worked in Moscow since the autumn of 1926 without even a permanent roof over his head. This seems incredibly odd until you consider that during this period, he went to prison, was exiled to a gulag camp, and subsequently spent time working in a prison camp.
The museum is easy to find as it is located close to the central entrance to the VDNKhRussian: ВДНХ and the Memorial Museum of CosmonauticsRussian: Muzey kosmonavtiki or Музей космонавтики. The permanent exhibition doesn’t explain as much about the scientist and his achievements; rather, it tells a lot of his personality. Korolev was determined, educated, organised, talented, and open-hearted. The extraordinary furnishings of the house, which remains authentic even down to the smallest detail, are comfortingly sincere.
Sergei Korolev was charged with ‘wrecking’ in 1938, during the thick of Stalin’s repressions. At this point, he had already successfully constructed gliders and rocket-powered aircrafts. The engineer was thrown into prison but he never stopped working. He was then found to be ‘undermining’ the state by constructing Pe-2 and Tu-2 bombers, which played a key role in World War II. Korolev was released in July 1944. However, his life continued to be unsettled, as he obediently moved from one place to another in order to develop new products for the country. It was only in 1957, when the first artificial satellite was launched successfully, that the Soviet government presented Korolev, who had become world-famous overnight, a large plot of land at 28 1-st Ostankinskaya StRussian: 1-ya Ostankinskaya ulitsa or 1-я Останкинская улица for the construction of his personal mansion.
The ‘cottage’ was designed by R. Simerdzhiev based on Korolev’s wishes, and the building turned out to be simple and comfortable. He moved into this cosy two-level house with his wife Nina Ivanovna, who was also his most faithful friend. After Korolev’s death, his widow appealed to the Soviet government with an initiative to establish a memorial museum in the house and did everything she could to ensure that only Korolev’s authentic belongings would be exhibited. The Korolev Memorial House MuseumRussian: dom-muzey Korolyova or дом-музей Королёва later became a branch of the Museum of Cosmonautics. In her latter years, Nina Koroleva also shared the most private and intimate part of her late husband’s life – his letters. As a result, the world came to know a totally different Korolev to the one with whom they had previously been familiar.
PERMANENT EXHIBITION AND EXHIBITING ACTIVITIES
A monument to Korolev welcomes visitors in the park next to the house. This monument was transferred here from Cosmonauts AlleyRussian: Alleya Kosmonavtov or Аллея Космонавтов to celebrate the engineer’s 100-th anniversary. Visitors are able to access the house through the basement, where they will find that everything in the mansion remains exactly where it was during the life of its owner. From the front porch, guests turn right to get to the entrance hall which contains a small cloakroom. The cloakroom still contains the clothes Korolev wore on the January day in 1966 when he went for the surgery that led to his death. Wooden stairs lead from the entrance door to the upper floor. By the staircase, there is a copy of Grigory Postnikov’s sculpture To Stars!Russian: K zvyozdam or К звёздам with the pedestal featuring the signatures of the first cosmonauts, who became Korolev’s family.
The doors made of wood and glass lead from the entrance hall to the living room which contains a piano, as Nina Ivanovna was a keen piano player. The coffee table covered with acrylic glass keeps the periodicals and newspapers from the engineer’s last day: PravdaRussian: Правда, OgonyokRussian: Огонёк and Nauka i zhiznRussian: Наука и жизнь.
The alcove to the right of the fireplace contains a movie projector that Korolev used to watch films at home, being too busy to go out to the cinema. Yuri Gagarin was the last to turn the projector on when Korolev’s friends and family gathered in this living room to commemorate the great scientist and watch his funeral service. The fireplace has been used only once, by Gagarin again, who did something wrong caused smoke to spill into the room. The trace of charcoal inside the fireplace is a reminder of that distant incident.
The living room is neighboured by the dining room which contains a vintage Telefunken radio. There is also a small but tidy kitchen on the ground floor. They say Korolev would sometimes have his lunch sitting on a chair right by the exit – probably an echo of his difficult prison-camp past.
The library on the first floor contains lighter literature, while professional literature can be found in Korolev’s study. The latter, with its table covered with a glass dome, has remained exactly the same as it was during the engineer’s lifetime. Next to the study, you will see Nina Ivanovna’s humble bedroom, draped in warm, inviting colours.
The veranda on the first floor can be accessed through the master bedroom, which is furnished in the European rather than the Soviet style. The spacious bathroom with its big window is also far from the Soviet construction design principles, as a lot in the design was borrowed from German architects.
The guides working at the museum will tell you what the basement looked like in the late 1960s. Today, this level hosts a small cinema and temporary exhibitions. The ingenious engineer’s biography is covered by the permanent exhibition, which displays Korolev’s awards, his death mask executed in Yuri Gagarin’s presence, and the slide rule he used for his calculations. The great academic had no powerful computing facility, so no examples of advanced technology can be found here.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com