Literary Museums

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Literary Museums


research and educational institutions that collect, preserve, exhibit, and publicize materials about writers or about literary history in general. In Russia the idea of creating literary museums originated in 1837 in connection with a desire to immortalize the memory of A. S. Pushkin. Only in 1879, however, was a library opened at the Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum, which was later (1889) turned into the Pushkin Museum. In 1883 the M. lu. Lermontov Museum was established at the Nikolai Cavalry School in St. Petersburg; in 1908, the Pushkin Museum in the village of Mikhailovskoe; in 1911, the L. N. Tolstoy museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg; and in 1912, the M. lu. Lermontov Museum in Piatigorsk.

After the Great October Socialist Revolution, literary museums developed in the USSR with great rapidity. Among the museums established in the first years after the revolution were the I. S. Turgenev State Museum in Orel (1918), the N. G. Chernyshevskii State Museum in Saratov (1920), the S. T. Ak-sakov Museum Estate in Abramtsevo near Moscow (1918), and the L. N. Tolstoy museum estates in Moscow (1920) and Iasnaia Poliana (1921).

In 1973 there were more than 160 literary memorial museums. Among the largest are the All-Union A. S. Pushkin Museum in Leningrad (1938); the Pushkin Open-air Museum in Mikhailovskoe (1922); the Pushkin Museum in Moscow (1957); the M. Gorky museums in Gorky (1928), Moscow (1937), and Kazan (1940); the F. M. Dostoevsky museum apartments in Moscow (1928) and Leningrad (1970); the F. I. Tiutchev museums in Muranovo near Moscow (1920) and in the village of Ovstug in Briansk Oblast (1963); the T. G. Shevchenko Museum (1940) and the T. G. Shevchenko House Museum (1928) in Kiev; the I. Franko Museum in L’vov (1940); the N. V. Gogol Museum in the village of Velikie Sorochintsy in Poltava Oblast (1929); the I. Chavchavadze museums in the village of Kvareli (1937) and the village of Saguramo (1951) and the V. V. Mayakovsky Museum in the village of Maiakovskii (1940) in Georgia; the O. Tumanian House Museum in Yerevan (1949); the F. R. Kreutzwald Literary Museum in Tartu (1940); the E. Vilde Museum in Tallinn (1946); the A. Upīts House Museum in the village of Kalnini in Latvia; the A. Mickiewicz Museum Apartment in Vilnius (1946); the P. Cvirca Museum in Kaunas (1948), the la. Kupala Museum (1944) and the la. Kolas Museum (1956) in Minsk; the M. Auezov Museum in Alma-Ata (1962); and the M. F. Akhundov House Museum in the town of Nukha in Azerbaijan (1940). There are also several literary folk museums—for example, the N. A. Nekrasov Museum in the village of Greshnevo in Yaroslavl Oblast and the literary museum in Tambov. In addition, exhibits of literary materials are found in many preserves and museums of local lore.

By content and type of activity, literary museums are divided into two main groups: literary memorial museums and museums of literary history.

Literary memorial museums usually include memorial complexes (edifices, apartments, estates, writers’ personal effects) and literary exhibits—for example, the Lermontov Museum in Tarkhany (now the village of Lermontovo in Penza Oblast; founded 1939); the A. P. Chekhov museums in Moscow (1954), Taganrog (1935), Melikhovo in Moscow Oblast (1941), and Yalta (1921); the L. Ukrainka Museum in Kiev (1960); and the M. M. Kotsiubinskii Museum in Chernigov (1935).

Museums of literary history contain materials that reveal the development of literature from a historical standpoint—for example, the State Literary Museum in Moscow (1934), the Museum of the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House, 1905) in Leningrad, the Literary Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi (1930), the K. Khetagurov Museum in the city of Ord-zhonikidze (1939), the J. Rainis Museum in Riga (1940), and the S. Aini Museum in Dushanbe (1960). A small group is made up of “combined” museums devoted both to literature and art, such as the Museum of Armenian Literature and Art in Yerevan (1921) and the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature and Art in Baku (1939).

Literary museums in the USSR frequently do a great deal of research work, organize scholarly sessions and conferences, arrange visitors’ meetings with public figures and prominent figures in literature and art, and conduct lectures. The results of scholarly research done in literary museums are published in the form of collections, separate works, catalogs, and descriptions of writers’ manuscripts and private libraries.

Literary museums have been developed extensively in foreign socialist countries. Among museums in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria are the I. Vazov museums in Sofia (1921) and Sopot (1935), the Petko and Pencho Slaveikov Museum in Sofia (1951), the P. Iavorov museums in Sofia (1959) and Chirpan (1954), the Kh. Botev Museum in Kalofer (1945), the Kh. Smirnenskii Museum in Sofia (1959), and the N. Vaptsarov museums in Sofia (1956) and Bansko (1953). Museums in the Hungarian People’s Republic include the S. Petõfi Literary Museum in Budapest (1954), a literary museum in the city of Badacsony, the Petõfi Museum in the village of Kiskõrös, the F. Kazinczy Museum in the village of Szephalom, and the M. Võrõsmarty Museum in the village of Kapolnasnyék. In the German Democratic Republic there are museums of F. Schiller (in Weimar, Dresden, and Leipzig), J. W. Goethe (in Weimar), E. Weinert (in Magdeburg), M. Andersen Nexö (in Dresden), and M. Gorky (in Heringsdorf). Literary museums in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic include the Museum of Czech Literature in Prague, the A. Jirásek museums in Prague and in the city of Náchod, the B. Nĕmcová Museum in Ratiboř ice, the K. Čapek museums in Malé-Svatoňovice and near Dobňis, the J. Haŝek Museum in Lipnice, the P. Hviezdoslav Museum in the village of Dol’ni Kubin, the P. Jilemnický Museum in the village of Svätý Jur, and the J. Jesenský Museum in Bratislava. Among museums in the Socialist Republic of Rumania are the Museum of the History of Rumanian Literature in Bucharest (1957), the M. Eminescu Museum in the village of Ipote§ti (1950), the I. Creangă museums in Piatra-Neamţ and Iaşi, and the M. Sadoveanu Museum in Piatra-Neamţ. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has the D. Obradović and V. Karadzic museums in Belgrade (1949) and museums of literary history in Zagreb (1957) and Sarajevo (1961). In the Republic of Cuba the E. Hemingway Museum, located in a Havana suburb, is popular, and in the Polish People’s Republic there is the A. Mickiewicz Literary Memorial Museum.

Well-known museums in other foreign countries are those of J. London and M. Twain (in the USA), the W. Shakespeare Museum (in Stratford-on-Avon), a museum at the Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, the Shakespeare Memorial Library and Museum in Birmingham, the C. Dickens House Museum in London, the museums of J. Keats in Hampstead near London and in Winchester, the R. Burns Museum in Ayrshire, Scotland, the Stendhal House Museum in Grenoble, the V. Hugo House Museum in Paris, and the museums of M. Andersen Nexö in Copenhagen and H. Ibsen in Oslo.


Voprosy raboty muzeev literaturnogo profilia. Moscow, 1961.
Loshchinin, N. P. Voprosy ekspozitsii v literaturnykh muzeiakh. Moscow, 1966.
Draganov, K., M. Raichev, and S. Stanchev. Muzei i pamiatnitsi v Narodna respublika Bulgariia. Sofia, 1959.
A Guide to Keats House and Museum [5th ed.]. London, 1963.
Birmingham Public Libraries Shakespeare Memorial Library. Shakespeare Exhibition (catalog). Birmingham, 1964.
Burns Cottage, Alloway. Catalogue of Manuscripts, Relics, Paintings and Other Exhibits in the Cottage. Museum, 1965.
Johnson’s House, Gough Square. London, 1967.
Soupis literarnich muzei a památniků v Čechach a na Moravĕ. Prague, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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