Abramtsevo Artists’ Museum-Reserve
Day Trip from Moscow
с. Абрамцево, ул. Музейная, д. 1
Hours of Operation: 10:00-17:30 (Summer Schedule),
10:00-15:30 (Winter Schedule), Wednesday-Sunday except the last Thursday of every month
Cost: Full Price (adults, all exhibits) 1,295 rubles; Special Price (students and pensioners, all exhibits) 800 rubles; Free for other designated groups; Photos and videos in the park: Full price-60 rubles, Special price-30 rubles
On October 5, as part of a cultural excursion for its International School on Global Security for Young Specialists, PIR Center, where I intern as part of my program with SRAS, took school students and lecturers to the Abramtsevo Museum-Reserve. Today the 50-acre Museum-Reserve site is famous for having been an artist’s retreat during much of the 19th century, hosting many of that era’s great Russian artists, including Vruble and Repin, who also contributed their work during the building the estate. The property includes a park and beautiful natural surroundings and serves as a tourist attraction for those interested in Russian literary and artistic history.
The Abramtsevo estate, which was originally known as “Obramkovo” in the 16th century, achieved fame in the 19th century, under the ownership of writer and literary critic, Sergey Aksakov and later, under that of industrialist and philanthropist Savva Mamontov. Aksakov purchased the estate in 1843 and subsequently lived there with his family, during which time he matured as a writer. He welcomed such friends as writers Nikolai Gogol and Ivan Turgenev, historian Mikhail Pogodin and actor Mikhail Schepkin. In 1870 Mamontov purchased the property and lived there with his wife and five children. Mamontov made several renovations to the estate and it was mainly under his ownership that the estate became an artists’ retreat, hosting Ilya Repin, Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel, Mikhail Nesterov, Konstantin Korovin, and several others who worked and produced some of their most famous pieces on the estate. The Museum-Reserve collection holds more than 25 thousand historical pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries: photographs and archives of the former estate owners as well as drawings, paintings, sculptures, and works of decorative-applied and folk art.
Among the Museum-Reserve exhibits is the 18th-century Manor House (rebuilt in the 19th century), the “Russian Artists of the 20th Century in Abramtsevo” exhibit, which is filled with paintings by artists who were members of “The Knave of Diamonds” artistic union, the Kitchen for the Manor House, and an artists’ Studio. The estate also includes the Bathhouse, the Church of the Savior, which acted as the church for the estate, Polenov’s Dacha (initially built for the artist Vasily Polenov and his bride upon their marriage), and the “Hut on Chicken Legs”, a wooden, gazebo-type structure modeled after the mythical hut of Baba Yaga, a mean old, witch-like woman in Russian folklore.
Our group from PIR was given a tour of the buildings that comprised the Mamontov dwelling and we then, as is customary on the estate, took a short walk around the property. Meandering along the quiet paths from one building to another, through the nearby woods and along the riverbank, one could sense the element of peace that artists must have felt during their stays at Abramtsevo. The lovely Gallery Hotel (Отель Галерея) and associated restaurant on the Museum-Reserve grounds help to provide the perfect, quiet escape from busy city life.
The Museum-Reserve location is quite secluded; it is nestled along the Vorya River woods near the town of Sergiev Posad, 37 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Moscow. Electric trains run from Yaroslavsky Railway Station (Ярославский вокзал) in Moscow (located at the Komsomolskaya Metro Station (станция Комсомольская)). One must then take either the Alexandrov or Sergeiv Posad electric train from Yaroslavsky Railway Station to Abramtsevo station (Абрамцево вокзал). This portion of the journey is about 1 ½ hours long. As the bathroom facilities on the electric trains can leave much to be desired, plan accordingly. At the very least one should plan to bring a packet of napkins to use as toilet paper if needed. After exiting the train at Abramtsevo station, one must cross the train tracks and descend the stairs behind the tent-shaped archway in the middle of the train platform. The earthen path leads to the Museum-Reserve.