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Touching the Shrine of the Russian Land

21.07.2009

On July, 2009, a group of museum-workers of the State M.A. Sholokhov Museum-Reserve visited the State Historical-Archive and Ethnographic Museum-Reserve “Kizhi”, one of the greatest open air museums in Russia. During the trip we had got a helpful experience exchange: the workers of the two museums have much to learn from each other both in the sphere of tourism and in organizing the work with the young people, as well as in preserving the memorial landscape and restoration work.

The Museum-Reserve “Kizhi” is a unique historical, cultural and natural complex being a particularly valuable cultural heritage object of the Russian Federation Peoples. The museum collection is based on the Kizhi ensemble graveyard, an object of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage.

While travelling to Kizhi, we had to cross Russia from south to north, covering more than 2000 kilometres. We were met by Elvira Valentinovna Averiyanova, the director of the museum-reserve, a short quick lady, devoted to her museum business. From the first moment she charmed us with her fascination and kind Russian soul. We listened to a wonderful story about the ancient graveyard, Russian epics, about the old North-Russian crafts.

We were amazed at the natural beauty of these wonderful sites. The Kizhi island surrounded by the waters of the most beautiful Onega Lake is crowned with the Transformation (Preobrazhenskaya) Church shining with its “silver” domes. Near it there is the functioning Holy Shroud (Pokrovskaya) Church.

The famous architectural ensemble is about 300 years old, and the restoration work was carried out every 50 years. This work is going on now as yet, with the memorial authenticity being preserved at the most.

We were also impressed by a peasant’s house with its dimensions and good quality, locating the dwelling and outbuildings under one roof, what is quite reasonable under the conditions of a cold and snowy winter. The guide’s  narration completed what we had seen, acquainted us with the history of Zaonezhiye, made our new world perception more colourful.

We appreciated “The Carpentry Centre”, making a good part of the island landscape. Its importance for the museum is difficult to overestimate. It is a unique industrial base with a spacious room for drying timber, equipped with modern wood-working machines, a roofed ground, which makes possible to assemble completely a lower crown of the church. High class specialists work here. The construction is carried out very effectively. And this is despite the fact that the island is situated more than 60 km from the mainland, all the building materials and timber for restoration imported, and the working time being only half a year from May till October.

We liked the cleanliness and tidiness of the island, though these places are visited by lots of tourists both from Russia and abroad. The talented collective body of the “Kizhi” museum are careful to preserve the peasant culture memorials of the Russian North.

Here we touched the shrine of the Russian land, and were deeply impressed by the trip.

V. Boldyrev
E. Diyachenko