The Museum was founded in 1977, on the initiative of Nikita Brygin, Russian journalist, ethnographer and writer, opened to the visitors in 1984. This is one of the largest regional literary museums in Ukraine.
In 1898, the City Council rented the palace from the Prince Gagarin, turned the building to the Odessa Literary and Artistic Society, which united writers, artists, musicians and actors. The meetings and evenings of the Society were held until 1903. Here Ivan Bunin read his translation of Longfellow’s poem. The great Ukrainian actress Maria Zankovetskaya also performed here, and Vladimir Zhabotinsky, a Zionist, the future ideologist of Israel, made a huge impression on the audience with his speeches and articles.
The museum presents more than 300 names of writers, one way or another connected with Odessa. The exposition of the museum houses in 21 halls, includes three directions: the memorial component, the museum of books and Odessa book printing proper, as well as the history of the development of literature in Odessa.
In this article, we want to tell you about the 10 most valuable exhibits of the museum, and we also highly recommend visiting the museum in the nearest future.
1. The first edition of “Poltava”, translated into the ukrainian (malorosskiy) language by Yevgeny Grebinka.
During Pushkin’s lifetime, the first pieces from “Poltava” were published, translated by Yevgeny Grebinka in full volume.
2. In the Odessa Literature Museum there are two intertwined tete-sake – the manuscripts of the Richelieu lyceum magazine. The first notebook “Areopagus“ (part one) contains three issues of the magazine for 1828.
The poetry section opens with poems by the most popular Russian authors – Pushkin and Zhukovsky. It should be noted that references to the works of A.S. Pushkin, quotes from his works are cited in all issues of “Areopagus” (Pushkin’s description of Odessa is especially often quoted).
Of greatest interest is the section “Criticism” presented by the article “Contemporary Russian Literature”, which provides an overview of the best literary publications in 1828.
3. The handwritten list of the 2nd volume of “Dead Souls“ (Nikolai Gogol), made by a student of the Richelieu Lyceum for his girlfriend. It is one of five or six preserved in the world.
4. Manuscript of Deribas’s article “Pushkinskaya Odessa (Pushkin’s Odessa)”. The museum has a part of Deribas’ archives, the rest is in the scientific library.
5. Furniture from the house of the artist Evgeny Bukovetsky, in which house on Knyazheskaya, 27, in 1918-1919, before emigration, Bunin lived. Perhaps these things bear traces of the writer’s touch. The museum also contains Ivan Bunin’s manuscripts.
6. The first edition of “Three Fat Men“ with color illustrations by Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, 1927, and Yuriy Olesha’s manuscript
7. Ilf’s inkwell, which he used when he wrote “The Golden Calf”. Ilf’s cap and tie, as well as the key “from America“ - from the New York hotel where Ilf and Petrov stayed during their trip in 1935.
8. Manuscript of the play “Hell in Paradise” by Vera Inber, the heroes of which are Adam, Eve, Lilith and the serpent. It was written for the KROT Theater (Original Theater Circle), where Rina Zelenaya and David Oistrakh worked.
9. Pen and pencil of Vladimir Sosyura which he used during the work.
10. Unique poetic book by Sergei Zhuk “Dreamiliki“, 1922. The author himself acted as an artist and publisher – he cut out the text of the book on a wooden board, from which he manually printed the book. Among Zhuk’s works there is a sonnet about the sea and about Odessa.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum is known for its literary and art exhibitions, classical music concerts, book presentations, conferences and cultural events. The ceremonial Golden Hall of the Museum, with its brilliant interior and excellent acoustics, is considered as the best chamber concert hall in Odessa.