The Chekhov estate at Melikhovo is one of the most interesting pages in the history of Russian literature. Anton Pavlovich Chekhov lived here for a period of seven years from 1892 to 1899. The Melikhovo period is of great importance because Chekhov was not only a writer but also a doctor who saw many patients free of charge and who struggled against cholera. He was a leading local public figure, as well as the builder of schools.
A large number of acquaintances as well as various developments in the villages and the District Town S. - all these are themes found in the works of Chekhov during his Melikhovo years.
During this period, he wrote 42 masterpieces: the plays Uncle Vanya and The Seagull; stories and short novels such as Ward No. 6, Sakhalin Island, House with Mezzanine, My Life, The Man in a Case, Gooseberry, About Love, The Country Men and others.
In 1899 for reasons relating to his health, Anton Pavlovich moved to Yalta. The Melikhovo estate was sold.
For many years there was no museum here, but the Melikhovo estate has always attracted the admirers of Chekhov.
The Museum at Melikhovo was founded in 1940. At this time, only one of the buildings of the memorial complex had survived. It was the guest house built by Chekhov in 1894, where he wrote his play, The Seagull. By the decision on 14 March 1940 of the Executive Committee of the Moscow Regional Council of Workers' Deputies, the A. P. Chekhov Museum in Melikhovo was created as a branch of the Serpukhov Local History Museum. This day became the birth date of the A. P. Chekhov Museum-Reserve Melikhovo.
During the Second World War, museum operations were interrupted, yet already on 29 June 1944, the Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Regional Museum was established as an independent institution. In the 1950s, restoration of the manor house was begun. The work was completed on 29 January 1960, on the centenary of the birth of Anton Chekhov. In the same year, upon the decision taken by the Council of Ministers of RSFSR, the Museum was granted the status of an A. P. Chekhov State Literary-Memorial Museum-Reserve.
Thanks to Chekhov relatives, the house was filled with items that are directly related to Anton Pavlovich and his family.
Currently, the Museum-Reserve includes the manor house, the guest house, the kitchen, the bath house, numerous household buildings, a wooden shed housing fire-fighting equipment, an exhibition showing an old ambulatory medical station and a large garden area.
Two schools built by Chekhov have also survived. In the 1970s, they were given to the Museum. In the Melikhovo village school, one can see unique exhibitions such as the Classroom of the Old Zemstvo School and the Teacher’s Apartment. In 2009, at the Novoselki village school, we opened a new literary exhibition called, In the World of Chekhov's Characters.
Prior to that in 1987, we opened a department of the Museum in the town of Chekhov called the Museum of A.P. Chekhov Letters. The exhibition is housed in the old wooden post office, which was opened on the initiative of Chekhov in 1896, at the Lopasnya Railway Station (now the town of Chekhov). Here, one can learn about the old mail service, as well as the fate and fortunes of the letters and correspondents of Anton Pavlovich. In this museum, children can participate in an interactive Living Letter activity. And in the courtyard, one can see the Anton Chekhov monument made by the remarkable sculptor, Mikhail K. Anikushin.
The old Lopasnya-Zachatyevskoye (Lopasnya-Conception) manor house is a branch of the Museum. It is located in the town of Chekhov. For many years, members of prominent Russian noble families such as the Vasilchikovs, Lanskys, Pushkins and Goncharovs lived here. In 1850s, the children of Alexander Pushkin lived here with their relatives, who owned the house. Pushkin’s archive with a manuscript of The History of Peter the Great was discovered here in 1917.
Today, the Museum collection consists of thirty thousand items. It is a unique collection of Chekhov relics, including handwritten notes by Chekhov and his family, original photos and personal possessions. A coat belonging to Anton Pavlovich, his felt hat and famous white peaked cap called Americanka, shirt and bow tie always attract particular interest from our visitors. In the dining room on a snow white table cloth is a dinner set that was purchased during the Melikhovo years. On the office desk, one can see a pen, pencil, the favorite ink pot and pince-nez belonging to Chekhov.
The Museum has a collection of rare books, including those autographed by the writer.
The fine art collection belonging to the Museum is magnificent. The collection includes paintings and drawings by Isaak Levitan, Vasily Polenov, Nikolay Chekhov, Maria Chekhova; scenographic works by such theatre artists as E. Kumankov, V. Leventhal, E. Kochelaev, E. Stenberg; illustrations by the Kukrynuksy graphic artists for Chekhov plays; sculptural portraits of Anton Chekhov by Georgy Motovilov, Mikhail Anikushin, Iulian Rukavishnikov.
Each year the Museum adds new pieces to the collection. The Museum items are often shown at various exhibitions. Interest in the Museum collection comes not only from Russian museums, but also by those abroad. From 1998-2014, the Museum exhibited pieces from the collection in Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, France and Belarus.
The Museum is engaged in many research and educational efforts. In recent years, we developed a number of projects involving children and their parents, such as In the Footsteps of Kashtanka the Dog, Dacha Fever, or 22 Innocent Amusements and The Kids. With great enthusiasm, young visitors, as well as adults, become acquainted with Anton Chekhov and his works in Melikhovo; they participate in interactive classes, master classes, and they can see theatre performances at the Melikhovo Theatre.
Since 2006, the Chekhov Studio Theatre has had an ongoing working relationship with the Museum. The theatre repertoire includes performances of Chekhov works, The Lady, The Bear, Psychopaths, Country Theatre of Antosha Chekhonte, as well as the works by other writers. Every Saturday, the Museum offers somewhat unusual tickets. On them is printed, Theatrical Saturday. On this day, our guests, in addition to visiting the estate buildings, can enjoy plays staged at our theatre.
The Museum also operates the Chekhov International Theatrical School. Famous actors and directors work with theatre school students and give drama master classes. Many students are especially impressed with the classes taught by Nikita S. Mikhalkov, the famous Russian director and actor, as well as doyen of the Russian cinema.
The Melikhovskaya Vesna (Melikhovo Spring) International Theatre Festival is very popular in Russian theatre circles. This tradition was stated in 1982 with performances by the Leo N. Tolstoy Lipetsk Drama Theatre. And now, many theatres around the world are proud to participate in this festival.
Special celebrations such as at Christmas, Maslenitsa (Shrovetide), Holy Trinity, Savior of the Apple Feast Day, as well as the All-Russia Festival Chekhov's Dachshunds, are unforgettable at the Museum.
On-site at the Museum, the Melikhovo horse-riding school currently offers young riders training in the basics of horse riding.
In the near future, the Chekhov Museum plans to complete the construction of the Children’s Museum Center. Here, you will be offered a wide range of diverse activities for children.