About the house-museum
The Velimir Khlebnikov house-museum is the only House-museum of the poet in the world.
It is the branch of the Dogadin Art Gallery of Astrakhan (The director – Irina Igoryevna Perova)
The museum opened to the public on 19 October 1993. It is located on the site of the former apartment-house belonged to Polyakov (1909) in Velimir's parents' Astrakhan flat to be exact. The exhibition display is based on the "Khlebnikov collection" donated by May Miturich-Khlebnikov, the poet's nephew.
Velimir Khlebnikov (1885 – 1922) – a poet, philosopher and a thinker.
He is one of the key figures in Russian vanguard. Futurist, The King of time, The Chairman of the Earth. The head of Russian Futurism. He invented "the language of stars" and about 10000 new words. He made Astrakhan famous in the world literature. He introduced vers libre in Russian poetry. He foreshadowed theatre of the absurd, Dadaism, Surrealism. He mixed science and art.
Well, who dares "show around" Khlebnikov's "silent genius"? It is up to the Velimir house museum. Is it really a museum? It is rather something else...
The only house that keeps the traces of the wandering poet presence, a pilgrim of spirit. This place houses his pen made of willow branch, his inkwell and a necktie Mayakovski gave him. This place houses his thoughts expressed in autographs and pencil memoranda written on the margins of the books from the family library. Beside the solidly established life of a patriarchal family where untouched to this day parquet, Dutch stoves, old-time venetian blind his mind exploited and begot "breakthroughs to the future worlds".
Since 1911 to 1919 Velimir visited his parents' flat where he wrote his compositions "Khadji-Tarkhan", "Esir", "Ka", "Astrakhan Giaconda" and some other.
Here, on the "Khlebnikov verandah" he made up his mind to establish in Astrakhan "the first forge of word", The School of Poets.
And nowadays joyful voices of young poets, talented youth sound there like an echo of his project.
The museum library holds both the books by luminary Russian Khlebnikov researchers and the works from all over the world – France, Netherlands, Brazil, Italy, USA.
The official position of the museum employees is research assistants, unofficially they call themselves – creators, eyes-sowers, khlebnikovists.
The academic rating of the museum is very high, the materials are published in the university editions of Amsterdam, Lion, Florence, San-Paolo, Bristol and the ones of The Institute of The World Literature of Moscow, The State Russian Museum and The State Hermitage (Saint-Petersburg) etc.
The museum suggests various and actual forms of work with visitors: excursions, art-projects for the youth, exhibitions, author's presentations, literature studios, international and regional contests, "word-creating games", virtual quests, museum classes for kids.
The museum officials have been twice winners of The Velimir Khlebnikov Prize (Astrakhan) and grant-possessors:
1998. The Russian Federation President grant for support of creative all-nation significant projects on culture and art to development of the Velimir Khlebnikov house-museum exhibition display "Velimir's room" (Supervisor A.A. Mamaev, a senior research assistant for the Velimir Khlebnikov house-museum).
2007. The Russian Federation President grant for support of creative all-nation significant projects on culture and art to creation and distribution of computer disc "Virtual museum "The Velimir Khlebnikov house-museum in Astrakhan" (Supervisor A.A. Mamaev, a senior research assistant for the Velimir Khlebnikov House-Museum).
2013. Grant Competition "Changing museum in a changing world" of Vladimir Potanin Philanthropy Foundation, nomination "Technology of museum exhibition displays", multimedia project "Hunger of space or Velimir's room" (Supervisor M.V. Emelina, the Deputy Director of The Dogadin Art Gallery of Astrakhan)
2015. Grant competition "Museum guide" of Vladimir Potanin Philanthropy Foundation, nomination "Amazing museums of Russia. Promoting museum over the Internet", the project "Velimir's bulletin" (Supervisor – O.O. Kuzovleva the head of the Velimir Khlebnikov House-Museum).
The history of formation
The house museum of a great poet and thinker Velimir (Viktor Vladimirovich) Khlebnikov (1885-1922) was established on 19 October 1993 in Astrakhan. It was not by accident that such a museum opened to the public in this very city. The literary critic D.P. Svyatopolk-Mirskiy stated: “Astrakhan is one of the clues to Khlebnikov”.
Astrakhan (the town of the poet’s ancestors) to a considerable extent formed his philosophy as a poet, stirred up his interest in Asia and East, evoked the idea of closeness of Western and Oriental spiritual cultures.
The museum didn’t appear out of the blue. At first the exhibition of Vera Khlebnikova’s (the younger sister of the poet) paintings and drawings took place in 1977 and later was repeated in Moscow and Leningrad. Simultaneously there was an exhibition of Russian and Foreign editions of Velimir Khlebnikov’s works, copies of rare photographs, sculpture portraits etc. It was when the idea of establishing the Velimir Khlebnikov museum in Astrakhan was originated. took sixteen long years to bring that idea into life.
In the beginning of 1980-s mass media more and more often published articles and notes aspiring establishment of the Khlebnikov museum in Astrakhan (A.Parnis “A museum to a singer of the Volga”, V.Radzishevskiy “I belong to the place of meeting…” and so on). The exhibition display was being planned, memorial materials and documents were being collected. That was wishful thinking to open the Khlebnikov museum in 1985, to the jubilee date.
The time had passed and bright plans and optimistic forecasts were replaced by perplexingly anxious question: “Will the Khlebnikov museum ever be?” (S. L’vov “The Komsomolets Caspia” 11/12. 1998). Ten years after Astrakhan regional executive committee taking the first decision to establish the Khlebnikov museum the problem of its opening remained unsolved. Rudolf Duganov, an outstanding Khlebnikov researcher, actual curator of the museum kept telephoning from Moscow, Alexander Parnis who had paid a great deal of strengths and years to reveal precious archive files on the poet’s life in Astrakhan began to raise an alarm, May Miturich-Khlebnikov, Velimir’s nephew worried whether to donate his family collection to Astrakhan or not.
At last (literally and figuratively) long-awaited opening happened, however it was the event of local importance. No guests from abroad, nobody from the capital or any other cities, no posters, no invitation cards saying that the only Russian Futurist Museum in the world existed. What caused such unwarranted modesty? The reason is that museum turned out to be very much different from what its enthusiastic initiators had expected. The most sickening thing was lack of original exhibits. But…
In December 1994 the poet’s nephew May Petrovich Miturich-Khlebnikov, the People’s artist of Russia donated his family (“Khlebnikovs’”) collection which had been started by his father, the artist Petr Vasilyevich Miturich, to Astrakhan. Shortly before Velimir Khlebnikov’s death Petr Miturich who considered him his friend and instructor had taken him to Santalovo village of Novgorod province where Khlebnikov wrote his last poems and soon died of terrible illness. Petr Miturich had a leather sack with the poet’s manuscripts and some of his personal properties. Miturich informed Velimir’s relatives of his death. Later he became closer with Vera Khlebnikova and married her. After his wife and her parents died Petr Miturich happened to be the only owner and keeper of Khlebnikov’s heirlooms,Velimir’s manuscripts and Vera’s paintings and drawings which he kept carefully until the end of his life.
This very collection May Petrovich Miturich-Khlebnikov donated to Astrakhan in December 1994. It included Velimir’s personal properties, his works published when he was still alive, antique books, almanacs, magazines, posters of 1910-1920, family photo album, the album of Vera and Velimir’s postcards, family library, paintings, drawings and literature archive of Vera Khlebnikova, family correspondence, documents etc. This collection of unique artistic and scientific value based on the new exhibition display of the museum (designed by exhibition designer Kaleria Tchernyshova) which opened to the public in September 1995 when The Fifth International Khlebnikov Conference was being held in Astrakhan. The best Russian and foreign researchers were its first visitors.
The museum concept
When choosing the concept of the Astrakhan Khlebnikov museum it was out of the question that it should not be just a literature memorial. The poet’s worldview was formed in the intelligent family closely tied with the history and nature of Astrakhan region. “He inherited love and knowledge of history from his mother”, while “his father dreamt of him becoming a mathematician or a natural scientist” (Vera Khlebnikova).
Velimir Khlebnikov implemented many of his father’s ecological ideas in his creative works. Deep spiritual intimacy entangled Velimir with his younger sister Vera. We know how much he appreciated her artistic works. “He asked her consultation when he was searching for outlines and color for his global alphabet”,- P.V. Miturich stated.
In this way without tearing the poet away from his family environment but making him dominant over the entire exhibition display the concept of Astrakhan Khlebnikov Museum included Nature and Creativity united by compulsory presence of History.