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History of the museum collection
The Museum collection started coming together in the 1950s. At this time, restoration work was undertaken at the Chekhov estate. The main manor house belonging to Chekhov was renovated. Yet, one of the most important tasks was assembling the collection.
The people who were instrumental in assembling the collection were close relatives of Anton Chekhov: his sister Maria Chekhov ~ Director and curator of the Chekhov House-Museum in Yalta – “White Dacha” and Anton Chekhov’s nephew - Sergei Mikhailovich Chekhov (the son of Anton’s younger brother, Mikhail Pavlovich Chekhov), who at that time kept many of the family relics.
Indeed, before leaving for Yalta, the Chekhov family decided not to take all of their belongings with them. Many of their possessions passed to Chekhov’s brothers. Later, Sergey M. Chekhov collected these items. Some items were donated by local residents to the Melikhovo school.
Over the course of the existence of the Museum, especially after the restoration of the main house, items belonging to Chekhov began to return to their original place. Sergey Chekhov and Maria Chekhova bequeathed some of Chekhov's personal possessions: his coat, hat, jacket, cap, shirt, collars, ties and cufflinks; followed by cutlery, fragments of Chekhov's dining set, office supplies, etc.
Some of the most unique items of the collection are the original photographs taken at different periods during Chekhov’s life, beginning with his years as a student to the last photos taken at Yalta and Badenweiler, Germany. These are the original photographs of the members of the Chekhov family, as well as immediate and distant relatives.
The significance of items in the archival documents collection such as Chekhov’s signatures, signatures of his relatives and correspondents in undeniable.
The documents of people associated with Chekhov, his relationships and his era assume a special importance for researchers and the exhibition.
The Nina Ilyinichna Gitovich Archive includes the memories of Melikhovo village peasants, rural teachers and doctors, who knew Anton Pavlovich Chekhov.
The Olga Leonardovna Knipper-Chekhova Archive consists of letters, playbills, and telegrams. The archive of Sergey Mikhailovich Chekhov, the nephew of Anton Chekhov, is composed of the correspondence with Maria Chekhova and Chekhov scholars. This includes materials concerning the restoration of the Chekhov house, as well as with the preparation of the six-volume edition of the letters of Anton Chekhov and the genealogy of the Chekhov family.
The Nikolay Alexandrovich Agaltsov Archive contains interesting material concerning the history of the Serpukhov region. The documents relating to the public activities of Anton Chekhov in Melikhovo years are, naturally, of special importance. There, one can find a great deal of information concerning the development of the local trades and crafts, churches and monasteries of Serpukhov, as well as the surrounding areas.
Examples of some of the exceptional items in the collection are books with inscriptions by Chekhov that were donated by his friends and relatives.
One of the most valuable collections of the endowment is called "The Artists of the Chekhov Family". It contains paintings and sketches of the older generation: by Nikolay Pavlovich, Maria Pavlovna, Mikhail Pavlovich, and from the younger generation: by Sergei Mikhailovich and Sergei Sergeyevich.
No less valuable are the paintings by artists who were close to Chekhov and those by his contemporaries: I. I. Levitan, P. I. Seryogin, A. S. Stepanov, F. O. Schechtel, M. T. Drozdova, A. A. Hotyaintsevoy, O. E. Braz, V. D. Polenov and A. A. Kiselyov.
"Melikhovo in Depictions by Contemporary Artists" is one of the richest collections of the fine arts endowment. For many years, from the 1950s to the present day, Melikhovo and its surroundings have been favored by artists.
Among the artists who have depicted the scenes and landscapes of Melikhovo are the Honored Artists of Russia, members of the Union of Artists: P. I. Sholokhov, A. I. Preobrazhensky, Yuri K. Avdeev (Director of the Melikhovo Museum, who restored the manor), N. N. Danilin, I. P. Shuvalov, A. I. Kurochkin, V. Dudchenko, P. I. Muradin, V. Galatenko and many others.
The paintings done by contemporary artists amazingly enrich our exhibitions. Some of them have been displayed dozens of times.
The collection "Artists Illustrate Works by Chekhov” include illustrations done by the "Kukryniksy" artists, T. Shishmareva, R. Mazel, M. Yarovaya, A. Veneziano, S. M. Chekhov and S. S. Chekhov.
For many years now, the Museum has arranged exhibitions of children's paintings dedicated to the works of the great writer, and a large number of works done by young talented artists have entered the Museum endowment in this manner. This is how the collection "Children Illustrate Chekhov" began.
Over the past twenty years, the Museum collection has been expanded by the acquisition of unique works by well-known theater stage set designers such as Valery Leventhal, E. Kumankov, M. Kurilko-Ryumin, E. Kochelaev, E. Stenberg and Y. Dolomanov. These are scenery and costume sketches for various Chekhov plays.
Examples of sculpture at Melikhovo are represented by the works of M. K. Anikushin, N. P. Pustygin, A. A. Lysenko, A. M., Anopchenko, I. M. Rukavishnikov, and L. A. Usova, whereas A. D. Brzhezitskaya and E. I. Gatilova are the authors of sculptural compositions on the themes found in the works of Chekhov.
The collection of medical equipment, tools and utensils is on exhibit at the "Ambulatoriya" ("Ambulatory Clinic").
The era during which Chekhov lived is receding ever further into the past. Yet, there are still household items dating from the late 19th – early 20th centuries that are carefully being preserved by families in some parts of the Moscow Region. That has always been a special focus of the Museum acquisition efforts.
The premise is that the typological exhibits are necessary to create a set of diverse of exhibitions and to arrange interactive activities that make up the new exhibits (the Museum-Mansion Lopasnya-Zachatyevskoye [Lopasnya-Conception], Novoselky Village School).
Today the Museum possesses over 30,000 items.