From ancient Bulgarian jewelry to communal apartments: what National Museum to exhibit for 100th anniversary of Tatarstan

Gulchachak Nazipova about the features of the new permanent exhibition

From ancient Bulgarian jewelry to communal apartments: what National Museum to exhibit for 100th anniversary of Tatarstan
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Director General of the National Museum of Tatarstan Gulchachak Nazipova told about the new exhibition “History of Tatarstan since the most ancient times to our days” dedicated to the 100-anniversary of TASSR during an online conference of Realnoe Vremya.

The opening will last for 10 days

Gulchachak Rakhimzyanovna, is the exact date of exposition already known? Will it be possible to hold a grand opening in light of the new requirements?

No, it will be impossible to open the exhibition with the participation of a large number of guests. But we will invite different groups of visitors on separate days. Thus, the event will stretch for about a week or ten days. For example, scientists who helped us create the scientific concept of the exhibition will come to us separately. We will invite veterans of the museum business, museum workers of the republic, and our donors. Besides, we have many partners. After that, the exhibition, which will later become a permanent exhibition, will work for all visitors as usual. Now we receive both single visitors and groups of up to five people, for whom we arrange excursions if desired. You only need to call and arrange a tour in advance. The exact opening date has not yet been set, but we hope to hold a presentation at the end of August.

It turns out that the start is before the start of the school year. What changes in the work of the museum meet visitors in connection with sanitary and epidemiological requirements? How do you take care of your guests' safety?

Nowadays it is very difficult to build work in accordance with the new rules, however, we have found opportunities to provide our employees with personal protective equipment. We ask our guests to come to the museum in masks and gloves. Besides, we strongly appeal to visitors: if you do not feel well, it is better to stay at home — there must still be some civil responsibility. At the entrance, there are both disinfectants and thermometers. We keep a distance, despite the fact that the number of visitors increases daily.

We show Kazan as the centre of scientific and cultural life in Russia. No wonder that in 1708 our city became the capital of one of the eight Russian governorates!

“Spied” in the Louvre

The exhibition is large-scale. How many halls does it occupy, how many exhibits are presented?

The exhibition occupies two main floors of the Gostiny Dvor building on Kremlevskaya Street, as well as part of the museum on May 1st Square — a total of 14 halls with a total area of approximately 4,000 square metres. Eleven halls are the main exhibition, and four more are recreational areas. They are branded and dedicated to the history of the TASSR. Here guests get acquainted with the exhibition in general, get navigation through it — I saw this in the Louvre and I really wanted to have similar halls in our National Museum. That is, here guests receive information independently. By the way, we have been the first in Tatarstan to become winners in the competition of national projects “Culture” in the category “Artifact” — now you can find out about a number of our exhibits yourself by QR-code.

Yes, there are really a lot of exhibits, and each guest can find something according to their interests. .

We also show a lot of famous people who gained the glory of the republic. Pushkin, who came to Kazan in the wake of the Pugachev's Rebellion, professors of the Kazan University (Lobachevsky, for example), Tatar enlighteners — Kayum Nasyri, Marjani... We weave the development of the Russian and Tatar theatres, Tukay and Shalyapin into the canvas of events. We show Kazan as the centre of scientific and cultural life in Russia. No wonder that in 1708 our city became the capital of one of the eight Russian governorates!

Speaking of interactivity, guests can even touch this aircraft, it was not put in the window. We have a lot to touch

Iron witnesses of the war years

“I know that the famous U-2 is on display. Many people saw it being sent for restoration from the window of the museum on the second floor. Has it taken its place in the exhibition now?

Those who visited our museum in Soviet times, before 1987, saw this aircraft. It is genuine, made in 1945, and was given to us as a gift. Now, of course, it has become elegant, and our restorers joke that it may well fly and make a circle over the Gostiny Dvor. It was on this aircraft that the famous “Night Witches” flew, including our countryman, Hero of the Soviet Union pilot Maguba Syrtlanova, as the video in the hall tells us. It even has a mock-up of the bomb that was attached to the body of the aircraft.

Speaking of interactivity, guests can even touch this aircraft, it was not put in the window. We have a lot to touch. For example, the GAZ-A car, which in the 1930s was presented to one of the Kazan citizens by People's Commissar for Industry Ordzhonikidze. We were given it as a gift, but, unfortunately, the car was non-exposable.

There is another car — the truck found in the marshes near Leningrad at the site of the 2nd attack army's fighting. It was given to us by the widow of one of the searchers. We show evidence of various wars. For example, we had ready-made materials from the exhibition dedicated to the Patriotic War of 1812. While the exhibits of the Crimean War, Russian-Turkish War and Russian-Japanese War will be presented for the first time. After all, many of our compatriots died there.

Ivan Fedorovich Likhachev, one of the founders of our museum, was the Vice Admiral of the Russian Navy during the Crimean War. He was an outstanding man and performed many feats in this war. Besides, our re-enactors have been searching for graves of participants of the Russian-Turkish War on the territory of the republic for 15 years and installing tombstones. We show weapons of those wars, letters and personal belongings of participants of military companies, residents of the republic.

We simply cannot allow visitors not to see this magnificent beauty. One of the new storerooms will present directly the treasures of different years, most of them are Bulgarian, Imenkovsky, and later Kazan ones

The first tractor and four storerooms

We will probably have the opportunity to see a lot of exhibits presented for the first time, including the personal belongings of famous people.

Certainly. For example, we showed the personal belongings of Gayaz Iskhaki, but now they will take their place in the permanent exhibition. The belongings of of Mullanur Vakhitov, Galimzhan Ibragimov, one of the first variants of the coat of arms of the Republic of Tatarstan, which was created by Baki Urmanche, we will also show.

The most ancient exhibit is the Golden duck, the ornament from the times of Volga Bulgaria. What other antiquities will the visitor see?

Previously, we only exhibited two so-called “storerooms” — with coins and ornaments. This time, we are opening all four storerooms at the exhibition. We simply cannot allow visitors not to see this magnificent beauty. One of the new storerooms will present directly the treasures of different years, most of them are Bulgarian, Imenkovsky, and later Kazan. The Vestry storeroom presents precious items of church life — diptychs, ancient crosses, icons. We will present many copies from the Icon of the Kazan Mother of God.

Another exhibit — the first tractor of Tatarstan — will tell about the history of collectivisation of Tatarstan. Is it also presented at the exhibition?

Certainly, Vladimir Dyiakonov, the former head of the museum who headed it for 40 years, was very proud of it. The tractor was given by the collective farmers of the Sarmanovsky district, and they found it somewhere in the storerooms. It was made at the Putilov Plant! The car was restored and put in the museum's funds. By the way, the plant itself has not preserved such a car, but at our museum, one can not only see it but also touch it!

The original Moabit Notebooks will be displayed only at the opening of the exhibition, then we will replace them with a very high-quality, but fake. You know that such exhibit is very afraid of light

German scientists became interested in Dzhalil

Which exhibits are most dear to you personally?

The stories of Musa Dzhalil and Fatykh Karim became closest to me because I passed them through myself. We built an exhibition in Mustafino, Orenburg Oblast, in the homeland of Dzhalil, and we built it with such gusto! It is incredible in what unknown and wonderful ways The Moabit Notebooks of the poet, which told about his feat, have returned to us. Now German colleagues are also engaged in research of his life together with us.

In Bizhbulyak, Bashkortostan, where Fatykh Karim was born, we also updated the exhibition. His family gave us a few personal items — his gray overcoat, to which the poet dedicated a poem, notebooks, even his front-line duffel bag. These items were collected by his fellow soldiers in 1945, after the poet's death, and sent to his widow. His daughter, Leyla Fatykhovna, understands the importance of keeping her father's things in the museum.

You earlier stated that The Moabit Notebooks will be displayed on a permanent basis, whereas now they are taken out of storage only once a year — on Dzhalil's birthday. Isn't it harmful to such a valuable exhibit?

The original Notebooks will be displayed only at the opening of the exhibition, then we will replace them with a very high-quality but fake. You know that such exhibit is very afraid of light. The paper that the poet could get in the concentration camp, in itself, is extremely poor quality, it is scraps of packaging. Once in 20 years we update the exhibit. In the future, we plan to purchase special climate equipment in order to put the Moabit Notebooks on public display at the permanent exhibition. But this equipment is very expensive. Now we are making calculations and choosing a manufacturer — it can be a domestic firm, or a German or, perhaps, a Japanese one. We hope that we purchase it soon.

From Turkic yurt to smart house

It is interesting that the exhibition traces not only the development of science and culture but also everyday life, in particular, housing conditions. Would you us about the apartments of the past years?

At our exhibition, you can find both the Turkic yurt and the Imenkovsky izba. The era of the Khanate of Kazan is represented by the Suyumbike Gardens — a kind of sofa room where guests can sit down and hear the history of the tsarina and other rulers of the khanate.

I think that the museum as a keeper of both antiquity and modernity will always be relevant. After all, what we have discussed today, that is, the exhibition itself, is only the surface, visible part of the iceberg

On the second floor, we created a communal apartment of the 1920-30s. Dozens of families were settled there, they were the former mansions of the city's notable rich people. It was planned that a separate room in the house would be given for a club, the place for general meetings. There is a separate laundry and dining room to free women from domestic work as much as possible. But over time, literally all the rooms were occupied. At our exhibition, you can not only see the communal apartment but also visit it — the corridor of a multi-family apartment is interactive.

There is another zone — khrushchyovka, which we also built with the help of our stock items.

Now, with the new trends of the pandemic, much has changed in the cultural and museum life in particular. How do you thank what museum of the future will be like and how much it will be in demand?

I think that the museum as a keeper of both antiquity and modernity will always be relevant. After all, what we have discussed today, that is, the exhibition itself, is only the surface, visible part of the iceberg. The main part of our work is hidden from the eyes of visitors.

By the way, at our exhibition, we invite the guest to reflect on what, for example, the housing of the future will be like. Maybe the focus will be on a smart, fully automated house, or maybe it is an eco-friendly home...

The same can be done, that is, try to predict the future, in the part of the exhibition devoted to clothing, costume. We presented not only historical costumes, but also, for example, modern costumes of our pop stars and bands. In the sports sector, you can see the full set of awards of the 2013 Universiade, the clothing of volunteers. Here we also plan to organise autograph sessions, concerts, thematic lectures and quizzes.

In other words, the museum of the future is the preservation of the past, the interactivity of the present and openness to the future.

By Anna Tarletskaya. Photo: Maksim Platonov
Tatarstan