National Alexander Pushkin Museum
The Pushkin Apartment Museum is a memorial museum dedicated to the last period of Alexander Pushkin’s life and creative work. It is located in one of the oldest stone mansions in St. Petersburg at 12, River Moika Embankment which used to belong to the noble Volkonsky family.
The museum of Alexander Pushkin at the embankment of the river Moika is located not far away from the Palace Square. Here the poet lived from September 1836 to the end of January 1837. This was a particularly difficult period in Pushkin’s life. He was subjected to increasing persecution on the part of the censors and reactionary circles; his relations with Tsar Nicholas I and high society had become very strained. A humiliating position in court, persecution, and slanderous insults to the honor of the poet and his wife ultimately led to the fateful duel with Georges Dantes on January 27, 1837. The mortally wounded Pushkin was brought back to this apartment on the embankment of the river Moika, where he died at 2.45 am on January 29.
The museum’s exposition includes the last portrait of Alexander Pushkin made in his lifetime – the work of Ivan Linev, a portrait of his wife, painted by Alexander Bryullov; the waistcoat in which Pushkin fought the duel, as well as a locket with a lock of his hair and a death mask of the poet. Among the poet’s personal belongings on display are his desk, a bronze ink-stand with the figure of a little African boy, an ivory knife, a bronze bell, a silver sabre, a goose quill, a walking stick with a button off Peter the Great’s coat inlaid in the handle, and a wooden casket reinforced with iron.
The American artist and writer, Rockwell Kent wrote the following in the visitors’ book after visiting Pushkin’s Museum Flat here on the Moika Embankment: “All the world has come to know Alexander Pushkin through his writings and his greatness as a man. To have visited this house of Pushkin’s, and I saw and even touched things that were his and part of his life, has been to me, an American, a deeply moving experience . .
The museum has in its possession Pushkin’s personal library, which consists of nearly 4000 volumes. In addition to classical works of world literature, there are books on geography, astronomy, economics, chess, reference books and dictionaries. Such a variety tells us of the remarkable range of the poet’s interests. Furthermore, besides his native Russian, Pushkin knew French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, English and German.
A fairly detailed description of what Pushkin’s study looked like has been given by one of the young poets who visited Pushkin three weeks before his death. “In the middle,” he wrote, “there was a simple wooden table placed so that you could move round it at both ends. It was covered with papers, writing materials and books .. . The entire wall was covered with bookshelves and there were wicker chairs in various places around the room. The whole room was spacious, light, clean with no trace of anything fancy, intricate or luxurious. The general impression was that of simplicity itself.”
Pushkin spent much of his time in this study. It was here that he edited the periodical Sovremennik (The Contemporary), finished his novel The Captain’s Daughter, which was set amid the events of the Pugachev uprising in 1770, and worked on his History of Peter the Great which filled 31 notebooks, the result of many years of work in the archives where the poet studied documents and memoirs relating to Peter the Great's time.