M. A. Sholokhov State Museum-Reserve

Alexander Sholokhov

director Vera Kashibadze, scientific secretary sholokhov@veshki.donpac.ru

M. A. Sholokhov State Museum-Reserve

41, Luxemburg Lane Veshenskaya, Rostov Region 346270, Russia


How to get rich in Heritage

The Sholokhov State Museum-Reserve is located in the south of Russia and occupies a vast territory of the picturesque Upper Don land in the Rostov Region. Far from cities and transport highways it manages to be one of the most popular and rapidly developing museums in Russia.
The Museum was established in 1984 to commemorate M. A. Sholokhov (1905-1984), the Nobel Prize winner and the greatest Russian author of the 20th century.

The main idea of the Sholokhov State Museum-Reserve follows creating an open-air museum-novel involving the Quiet Don, both the great river and the masterpiece of M. Sholokhov's genius, as well as the Cossack villages, traditions, lifestyle to serve as expositions and exhibits and to provide the quality of response to visitors.

Mission of the Museum is to identify, to study and to ensure the protection of all components of the great author's heritage and the material and spiritual assets of past generations of the Don Cossacks in the integrity of cultural and natural environment, thus contributing towards achieving sustainable development for future generations.

Management development and strategic planning is followed-up on the Program of Complex Development of the Sholokhov State Museum-Reserve in 2004- 2008 recommended and adopted by the Russian Federation authorities.

Method of financing: state federal. The Museum budget in 2005 was 3.9 mln Euros, total expenses for restoration, extension and modernisation were 3.2 mln Euros; earned income made 0.1 mln Euros.

General Characteristics

The Museum comprises 5 memorial houses the author lived and worked in different years, the buildings of the administration and information center, the excursion and visiting center, the exhibition M. A. Sholokhov. Time and Destiny, the reconstructed complexes A Cossack Kuren and A Cossack Farmstead and the Traditional Land-Tenure designed as a high-yield learning environment, the Museum stables, the hotel etc.
The total surface of the Museum premises is 8000 sq.m, the exhibition space is 1900 sq.m. The total number of exhibits exceeds 70000, replenishing in 2500 items annually. The new premises for fund storage have been constructed and provided with up-todate facilities and technologies.
The Museum staff extended to 317 associates, 12 of them possessing a scientific degree. The research has resulted in several books and in annual 200 scientific and educational publications and reports at national and international scientific conferences and meetings. Travelling and event exhibitions have been held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov, Volgograd and other cities. A new international project of arranging an exhibition in Taiwan was launched in 2005. Pamphlets, brochures, CDs and printed material are issued to support specific Museum programs and displays. The re-interpretation of classes, seminars and workshops to the interactive involving of the museum space into the educational process have been fulfilled. Special classes based on original technologies are organised for disabled children.
The Museum has become the most significant taxpayer and the most preferable employer in the Upper Don region providing sustainable development, social support and cultural access to the local community.

Layers of heritage the Museum preserves and develops

The Museum focuses on identification, study, protection and development of all components of M.A. Sholokhov's heritage. It is the most significant museum of the great author in Russia. Owing to the efforts and investigations of the state, the Sholokhovs family, the staff and lots of volunteers and the author's admirers the Museum houses many original and memorial items. In their number it shares national excellence only with the L. Tolstoy Museum-Estate Yasnaya Polyana. The Museum activities and the exhibitions have undergone the re-interpretation of the former Soviet total memorialization of the author's personality to evaluation of the outstanding contribution his art has made to the world spiritual culture and of his mission in the social environment.

M. Sholokhov lived among the Don Cossacks, he wrote about them and treated the Cossacks' culture and history very carefully. Moreover, his art is a valuable source of information on this matter. So, the subject of Cossack culture, traditions, lifestyle, mentality, labour, military service determines the Museum approaches to research, funds and exhibitions and makes the second layer of heritage.

The third layer presents the unique nature of the Upper Don region depicted by the author. Even now one can see and recognise those memorable places. The Museum preserves and cherishes the rich diversity in natural zonality, landscapes, flora and fauna, natural rarities and brands. The whole territory of the Museum- Reserve is 40000 hectares providing absolute national excellence in natural heritage to the Museum. The long-term original project of natural and cultural Museum landscapes visualization, in collaboration with the Institute of Heritage, Russian Academy of Sciences, has been launched.

In 2005 the Sholokhov State Museum-Reserve was recommended to join the List of Most Valued Sites of Culture in the Russian Federation.

Working for visitors

The Museum meets current challenges in presenting its products to visitors through adequately arranged and installed exhibits, interactive computer programs, touch-screens and plasma screens, CD-ROMs, etc. Still a direct and tangible experience, emotional and/or active, determines our traditional approach to connecting. A visitor is proposed to be rather a co-creator in the Museum than a spectator or a user. Thousands of children, teachers, fellow-countrymen, students and professors from colleges and universities, scientists, journalists, amateur performers, folk singers and dancers take part in research, fundraising, handicraft workshops, classes, contests, concerts, festivities, adaptation and arrangement of the Museum space granting the Museum the status of a people's institution.

The Sholokhov Spring Festivity as a project and a brand of the Museum.
On May 24, 1985 thousands of people came spontaneously to Veshenskaya to meet M. Sholokhov's birthday and to pay their love and respect to the late author. They were fellow-countrymen, the Cossacks from nearby districts, simple readers from different regions of the country, children, famous writers, poets, actors, scientists and public men from Moscow and other cities. That one is wise who catches the people's will and the God's message. Since then the literary and folklore festivity called Sholokhov Spring has been held in Vesenskaya annually. It has granted the status of national and international event. The festivity, like The Best in Heritage project, is rather a continuous process than an achievement. Diversity and tangibility of the celebration, as well as its simple and natural development are well prepared. The Museum staff works for it the whole year and has 3-4 sleepless days and nights in May.

The Sholokhov Spring festivity held in May 2005 attracted 120000 guests (10 times exceeding the total population of Veshenskaya!), 5000 performers and was accomplished by the visit of the RF President V. Putin. The holiday comes early in the morning like in old times and begins with merry reveille. Folklore groups in bright costumes walk along the streets singing and dancing. The Don Cossacks prance their horses. The streets are full with art shops and handicraft fairs. Concerts, performances and contests take place on the banks of the Don river, squares and in the stadium. The gala-concert on the water and fireworks accomplish the festivity.

Everyone is invited to visit exhibitions, to learn and try his skills in traditional Cossack handicrafts (pottery, leather and willow weaving, cooking), to display and sell his own handicraft products, present his literary opuses, take part in concerts and contests in literature, singing and dancing, football, horse races and fancy horse-riding and just communicate with other people. Here in the streets one can meet the Rostov Region governor, a famous actor or a journalist, guests from Poland, Italy, Bulgaria, Austria and many other countries.

The hospitable inhabitants of Veshenskaya, fellowcountrymen the Don Cossacks, The Kuban and Ural Cossacks, the Ukrainians, the Kazakhs, the Chechens, the Ossets, the Adyghians in the streets of Veshenskaya present the most wonderful ethnical and cultural diversity and tolerance as the absolute national treasure and the national main heritage.


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