POLENOVO branch to be opened in Moscow

Report on Kultura TV Channel (January 13, 2021)

Great and exciting news: The House-Museum of Vassily Polenov, located in the Tula region, will be opening a branch in Moscow. 

The house, situated on Zoologicheskaya street, was built according to the artist’s plans. Completed in 1916, it now has to be restored.  Here is what is planned: a story by Ksenia Egorova. 

It is a reunion for the two houses. And good news for those who enjoy Vassily Polenov’s work. The house, as it was designed by the artist in Moscow, on Zoologicheskaya street (it was his last project as an architect) was entrusted to POLENOVO museum; in other words, it became a branch of the POLENOVO domain.  This Muscovite masterpiece now desperately needs to be restored. What are the heirs’ plans in term of restoration? This is the topic of our report. 

Gothic vaults, echoing sound. The house, designed by the artist Vassily Polenov at the beginning of the 20th century is now empty. 

An authentic castle in the midst of the city of Moscow. From the era of Polenov, there still remain several beams and parts of the house’s layout. At the moment, the facade of the house is hidden under a construction safety net. The project by the artist Vassily Polenov and the architect Ossip Shishkovsky was supported by the patron Savva Mamontov. It is there that, in 1915, they decided to build the first house of culture: a laboratory for dramatic arts to help encourage and support Russian local theaters, factories and schools. 

“There is a deep connection and strong ties between this place and POLENOVO, the house of theater is also related to where he used to live. In fact, he resided just a bit further away on the Garden Ring, nowadays 7, Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya street. It is there that he experienced the revolution and heard the fights and the ringing of bullets.  Those sketches of the building were drawn by Polenov himself, he even distinguished here the 15th century style”, claims the coordinator of the Archnadzor movement, the Muscovite Rustam Rakhmatullin.

Ekaterina Gerassimova, chief curator of the POLENOVO museum, unveils sketches of the Muscovite house. Today only a few representations remain along with some pictures taken at the beginning of the century, during the opening ceremony. 

We still do not know how this house – a branch of the POLENOVO museum in Moscow – will be organized. Firstly, it is necessary to conduct research and to go through the archives to know how the house and its site were laid out. Only then a work plan will be elaborated. 

Natalya Polenova, the artist’s great-granddaughter, is convinced of one thing: there should be a master to every domain. 

It is the case here, at the POLENOVO museum, as the Polenov family has been directing it for many decades. 

The museum director, Natalya Polenova, states: “I would like for this historical house to maintain the idea of a place for theater and experimentation. I would be absolutely thrilled if it benefited from private investments, but we need to be realistic there. Will there be someone to graciously invest in this project, and help us carry it out?” 

Here, the tradition of the Polenov family continues with shows for children and adults. Moreover, a theater will likely be opened on Zoologicheskaya street. The 180th anniversary of the artist will be celebrated in 2024. Will the restoration be completed by then?

Translated by Juliette Vielcanet