Chekhov memorial school, Novoselki village
"In the World of Chekhov Characters"
(Literary exposition of the Museum-Reserve of A. P. Chekhov "Melikhovo")
In Novoselki village of Chekhov district, there is a unique memorial wooden building. It’s a rural school built by Chekhov in 1897. Local children attended this school up to the mid-1970s of the 20th century.
Today the historic walls of the school host the literary exposition "In the World of Chekhov Characters". It introduces visitors to Chekhov's era, to the writer’s world, his contemporaries, as well as famous and unknown prototypes of characters of his works.
The world of Chekhov characters is densely populated and very diverse. It is a unique literary population census of Russia in the late 19th century given birth by the writer on the pages of his hundreds of works.
The world of Chekhov's characters on display in the exhibition is the world of a Russian province in the late 19th century. A poet and a contemporary of Chekhov, Dmitry Sergeyevich Merezhkovsky wrote:
"Chekhov is so detailed in his description of the Russian life of the late XIX century, so once Russia suddenly disappeared, it would be possible to recreate it again using only the works of Chekhov."
Yet, it has been over a century since Anton Chekhov wrote his works. Political, economic, and administrative-territorial structures of the country have changed. Life itself has changed as well. The names of certain objects, institutions, ranks, the relations of Chekhov characters and their living conditions are often unclear to the present day reader. Therefore, all exhibited items and documents assembled together by the Museum also offer a contemporary commentary into the world of Chekhov characters intended to help to understand the numerous details of a bygone era.
"At one of the stations, it seems to me somewhere between Belgorod and Kharkov..."
At the railway station on the platform in passenger cars and train compartments, you meet a variety of Chekhov heroes: some of them are traveling to the city while others are returning to their village and estate homes. Dachniki (city residents) are moving to their dachas (summer homes in the country). In one display alone, visitors are afforded a unique vision of Russia’s social classes from the late 19th century traveling by train in three distinct travel classes.
Young visitors to the Museum can see the luggage of traveling passengers from all three classes, imagine the purpose of various items, and examine statuettes of people dressed in period attire of the era specially made by an artist on dolls. Adult visitors will be interested in learning about the evolution of the Russian Railway transport system, its structure, its operating circulars and regulations.
"In one of the districts of the province of T..skoy in the country estate of the landowner..."
During the second half of the 19th century the character and the purpose of the village and country estates changed. Ruined noble estates are bought by merchants and industrialists. They are purchased for entirely different purposes: as a permanent place of residence, as a summer country dacha (a summer country house), and often on-site estates are reconstructed into factories and plants. Or, alternatively, new owners build dachas (villas) on the estate for renting to city dwellers looking for an escape from city life. A summer country housing boom covers Russia throughout this era.
Anton Chekhov was not born into Russia’s landed nobility. His first acquaintance with a country estate in Central Russia was literary in nature. A noble manor is a typical scene in novels and stories from renowned Russian writers such as Alexander S. Pushkin, Nikolay V. Gogol, Ivan A. Goncharov, Ivan S. Turgenev, Aleksey F. Pisemsky, Mikhail Ye. Saltykov-Shchedrin, Leo N. Tolstoy and others.
Chekhov actual entry into country estate life begins during the 1880s when he moved to the countryside with his family during summertime. From 1885 to 1891, prior to purchasing a family country estate, the Chekhovs summered in villages of Babkino, Bogimovo and on the Luka River.
Amateur photographs and paintings of late 19th century Russia introduce visitors to various farmsteads and landscapes as Chekhov and his contemporaries would have seen and experienced.
"In the provincial city of S..." - "In the provincial city of N-sk..."
Morning in a provincial town. Shepherds drive a herd on streets lined with gray fences. Traders and merchants open their small shops and stores. In hospitals, doctors and medical assistants begin receiving patients. Numerous mid-rank and low-level officials and clerical employees are coming to their local city and district council offices.
Elementary and high school teachers and pupils as well as colleges students are rushing along their usual ways to attend classes. The day is passing by in everyday tasks and concerns. In the evening the same herd is driven back home along the same mean streets. Inhabitants sit down to enjoy a whist card game or go to the theatre. Touring performers, half-educated actors and local amateurs bring audiences new Russian and world drama plays.
The complete museum exhibits add up to create a generalized Chekhovian image of a provincial town, behind which there is a real historical and geographical space.
In a small Museum room, exhibits of era specific old photographs, documents and objects construct a view of an average rural town allowing visitors an insight into traditional architecture, organization, everyday life of local inhabitants.
A great addition to the museum presentation is a collection of screen versions of Anton Chekhov's works, including extremely rare original showpieces. Some of these artifacts are dated to be over a century old.
Ekaterina Sergeevna Zaytseva,
Junior Research Assistant,
Department – Promoting the Awareness of the Life of A. P. Chekhov and His Creative Work.
142326, Moscow Region
Phone: +7 (496) 727-67-52
Every day from 10.00 to 17.00,
Museum ticket office closes at 16:45.
Day off - Monday
Closed every last Friday of each month for cleaning.