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‘Mandelstam Street’ Exhibition Opens at the State Literature Museum with Support of HSE University

On March 16, the HSE Madelstam Centre together with Vladimir Dal State Literature Museum opened a museum dedicated to poet Osip Mandelstam and his wife Nadezhda. Below, HSE News Service talks about the exposition ‘Mandelstam Street: Osip and Nadezhda’.

A common space with Soviet posters, a hallway, and the rooms of Osip Emilievich and Nadezhda Yakovlevna holding the main objects of the exhibit — the museum of the great poet and his wife — is presented as a communal flat. In the future, the couple will soon have neighbours: writers Mikhail Bulgakov and Andrey Platonov will ‘move into’ the other rooms. This is how, after years of wandering, the Mandelstams have finally acquired their home, says one of the exhibition curators, HSE Mandelstam Centre Director Pavel Nerler.

Pavel Nerler
© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

‘This is a museum of people who never had their own home. This is our attempt to create a home for biographically homeless people,’ Pavel Nerler said. ‘Furthermore, this is a museum of not only a poet, but his wife as well. Nadezhda Yakovlevna is an important figure in Russian literature, thanks to her memoirs and to her heroic efforts. When Osip Emilievich died, she remained alone, dedicating her life to preserving his poems, saving his archive, and then, writing her great memoirs about him’.

In Nadezhda’s room, visitors will see the desk where she kept Madelstam’s poetic archive during the hard times of 1946-1957. They can also see underground books, memoirs, and other books that belonged to Nadezhda. Most of the exhibits in her room have been provided by the HSE Mandelstam Centre. Osip Mandelstam’s room contains treasures from the State Literature Museum, multimedia exhibits, and other things that are related to the poet and his creative biography.

‘Since everything is confined here, we had to go deeper: each of the exhibits has its history, its own drama, which can be revealed during the excursion,’ said Pavel Nerler. ‘It may seem like a plain book, but it hides a lot of drama—about how it was banned, and then, how it was published for 18 years in the ‘Poet’s Library’ series. Or, for example, a medal, which tells us a story about the opening of the monument to Mandelstam in Moscow. Visitors can delve into each of the exhibits to learn more about the poet and his wife.’

The limited space of the museum gives rise to another unique aspect: none of the expositions it holds will be permanent; they will be changed every 6 to 12 months. Eventually, a cinema hall will appear in the common space. Then, visitors will be able not only to study literary artefacts, but to watch films about their favourite authors—Mandelstam, Bulgakov, or Platonov.

The ‘Mandelstam Street: Osip and Nadezhda’ exposition is open in the central building of the State Literature Museum.

Address: 15 Zubovsky Boulevard, Building 1.

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