About museum

Chernigiv State Literary-Memorial Museum of Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky

Chernigiv State Literary-Memorial Museum of Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky, an outstanding Ukrainian writer and public figure, was set up in September of 1934 by decree of the government. Surrounded by a beautiful little garden, it is located in a quiet street of the ancient Ukrainian town of Chernigiv, where the author spent the last 15 years of his life. The founder and the first director of Museum was Khoma Kotsyubinsky (1870-1956), the writer’s younger brother. During the Second World War, exactly with 1941 till 1943 the museum exhibits were evacueted to the rear of the country, to the Ufa town in Bashkortostan. After the liberation of Chernigiv from German occupation, the museum was comeback to nativ town and resumed its work.

After the death of the first director of the museum for more than 21 years it was headed by Iryna Kotsyubinska, the writer’s younger daughter. Novadays the museum comprises modern literary display, memorial house of the writer and the garden - green memorial exposition.
The memorial flat of Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky is object of proud not only Chernigiv’s inhabitants, but all Ukrainians also. In this house the writer settled with his family in 1898 and spent there 15 years. Chernigiv period was the most fruitful one in Kotsyubinsky ‘s creative life. The best stories of the author - «Intermezzo», «Apple Blossoms», «At a High Price», «In Praise of Life», «Fata Morgana», «The Shades of Forgotten Ancestors», which brought him the world fame, were written in this period.

In 1958 three rooms in the memorial exposition: the bedroom, the dining-room and the sitting-room with the part of writer’s study were opened for the visitors. The great number of the things, which surrounded Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky during his lifetime was preserved with the greatest care. Among them are: the writer’s manuscripts, photos, magazines, books by Kotsyubinsky and about him, family relics, the author’s personal belongings which speak of his tastes and interests.

Numerous writers, actors, painters and scholars of that time visited Kotsyubinsky in his house. Mykola Lysenko, the famous Ukrainian composer, played the writer’s favourite melodies on the piano. In the sitting room on Saturdays literary soirees were held, the participants including the writers B.Grinchenko, M.Vorony, M.Chernyavsky, V.Samiylenko, M.Zhuk and others. M.Kotsyubinsky was an adviser to many young talented people, such as Pavlo Tychyna, Vassyl Ellan-Blakitny, Arkady Kazka etc. The Swedish scientists and translator of Mykhailo Kotsyubinsky’s works into Swedish language Alfred Jensen , stayed in this house in 1909 during preparing his work about Ukrainian hetman Ivan Mazepa.

In the last years of the writer’s life the sitting-room also served as his study. The desk with a writing-set, library and furniture help the visitors to imagine how the author worked. You get the impression that the owner of this room has just left his pen and ink-pot to take a stroll in the garden. In two bookcases one can see the writer’s personal library, it has more than 1,500 volumes. Among them there are interesting first editions of his works, books containing autographs of famous writers: Panas Myrny, Ivan Franko, Maxim Gorky, Volodymyr Korolenko, Ivan Bunin many essays on Kotsyubinsky’s life and creative activity.

Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky was a connoisser of folk art. On display in his former dinning-room there are works by folk craftsmen which the writer collected.
In 1983 the memorial exposition was extended. Two rooms more and the kitchen were added to it. In the writer’s daughter’s room and in the room of his mother one can see some interesting souvenirs which Kotsyubinsky brought for his children from those countries which he had visited. In the kitchen there are many utensils typical for the end of the 19th - the beginning of the 20th centuries.

After the memorial house you can enjoy splendid memorial garden, where the great lover of nature with this family used to work and rest. The garden is preserved as it was in the writer’s lifetime. The pride of the green exposition are the trees grown by Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky, specially the fir-tree, which was planted in 1898. In the garden we can see the writer’s favourite flowers such as mallows, poppies, roses etc. Mikhailo Kotsyubinsky liked to rest on the bench among the bushes of lilac which his wife Vira had grown for him. A lot of beautiful flowers are in blossom in the garden from early spring till late autumn. There is also an exotic plant agave which the writer admired in Italy and now in his memory it decorated the garden in summer.

Literary exposition of the museum was opened in September 1983 in a specially designed new building. Designer group director was one the best museum artists of Ukraine Laureate the Taras Shevchenko Prize - Anatoly Gaidamaka. In the centre of the building there is a unique composition made of wood, which shows the heroes of Kotsyubinsky’s stories. The author of composition - «The symbolic Tree of Life» - was V.Zadorozhny.
Literary exposition occupies the first and the second floors of the building. In tells about the main landmarks of the writer’s biography and creative work. Showcases contain documents, photos, private belongings, the first publications of the author and books that he read. Kotsyubinsky’s creative laboratory is revealed in display - initial variants of manuskripts, rough copies, proofs with corrections made by the author demonstrate the creative process of the writer’s tireless work.
A great many of Ukrainian prominent painters such as M.Zhuk I.Izhakevich, G.Yakutovich and others took themes and subjects from M. Kotsyubinsky’s works. The best of their illustrations are on display.

The museum’s literary exposition also includes editions of Kotsyubinsky’s books in Russian, Swedish, Czech, Polish, Chinese, Hungarian, German, English, French and other languages, published during the author’s lifetime and after his death.

The Literary-Memorial Museum is not only the treasury of Kotsyubinsky’s heritage, but is also a centre of research work on the literary activity of the writer. Scholars come here to work on themes connected with the life and writings of M.Kotsyubinsky and study the original manuscripts.
The Museum is well-known as a cultural centre, the place of evening literary-musical parties, concerts of classical and folk music, book and magazine presentations. Literary, philosophical and national societes use the halls of the Museum for their gatherings Scientific conferences, meetings with writers, producers and actors, literary soirees, exhibitions attract many interested visitors.

The exposition and the funds of the Museum are constantly supplemented with rare documents, photos, books, paintings and other materials, donated by home and foreign scientific institutions and private collectors. Visitors to the Museum can see films based on Kotsyubinsky’s writings. The staff of the museum is constantly improving the expositions, gives popular lectures, does its best to keep carefully everything that surrounded the writer during his life.

The museum also posesses the foreign writers connected with Chernigiv region. Thousands of visitors from our homeland and abroad come to Chernigiv to pay tribute to the great Ukrainian classic writer.

M.Kotsyubinsky and his wife were buried not far from their house, on the picturesque Boldyna Hill where the writer liked to walk with the family during his life.

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