Tolstoy Literary Museum


Today was a Tolstoy-themed day.

Yes. September 29, 2015 marked the day in my life that I dedicated to Tolstoy.

Today, I went to two museums in Moscow dedicated to Tolstoy. The first one I went to was the Tolstoy Literary Museum, which I’ll focus on in this post. The second one was the Tolstoy Estate Museum, which is in another post.

We are staying at a hotel in the city center, and started the day by walking to the Arbat area. That was already quite a long walk, but since it was still in the morning, it was nice. Morning walk, good for the soul, all that. After lunch in the area, we went to the Tolstoy Literary Museum.

It was so quiet, I was afraid it was closed or something. I walked into the door and the first thing I saw was a statue of the man himself. Then this lady came out and asked me for my tickets—turns out I was supposed to go to another building to purchase them. In the other building, I was ushered into an office—the lady in there that I was supposed to get tickets from was on the phone, and two other ladies told me to sit down on a chair next to a table. I felt like I was back in first grade at the principal’s office—it was just that vibe. After waiting for 3-4 minutes for her the finish the phone call and her sounding-very-impatient-and-annoyed-that-I-don’t-understand-Russian, we got our tickets.

We went back to the museum building, and was about to start the walk around the exhibitions—and then the lady in there told me that if I wanted to take photos, I was to buy a separate ticket—which will allow me the freedom to take photos and videos. Seeing that I don’t know when I’ll get to come back to this museum (or even Moscow) again, I went back to the other building to get a photo-taking permission ticket, which was 150 roubles. I guess it’s not a lot of money, but I felt like…I don’t know, a bit awkward—considering how entry and photo-taking were all completely free when I went to the Bulgakov House and Vladimir Nabokov House, and the staff were much more welcoming.

Anyway, still a good experience and I’m glad I went.

Apparently, this is the oldest literary museum in the world—founded back in 1911. The museum’s dedicated to Tolstoy’s literary influences and work; there were a lot of letters, books, photographs, artwork, and etc. There are no English descriptions at all, so I felt kind of clueless about everything—but it was still enjoyable to just walk around and see all the relics.

Here are a few of my photos from the visit:

thumb_P1010909_1024Above: The man himself.

thumb_P1010912_1024Above: This is the only English explanation you will get in the museum—the lady handed us this board/guide thing that talks about the foundation and the history of the museum.

thumb_P1010913_1024Above: Now that I think about it… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a portrait of Tolstoy smiling.

thumb_P1010914_1024Above: More portraits. Portraits and portraits of him everywhere in every room.




thumb_P1010911_1024Above: More letters and relics.





thumb_P1010939_1024Above: It was so peaceful and quiet in there—though felt a slight “strict and uncomfortable” vibe the entire time.

thumb_P1010946_1024Above: Out in the garden

I was there for only about twenty minutes or so. I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if I understood what things were/meant/signified; I would’ve been more keen to observe what were his inspirations and his influences. I could only guess and just kind of walked through clueless. I enjoyed it, but I had a more enthusiastic time at the Tolstoy Estate Museum. Come to this museum if you’re a crazy fan of Tolstoy, and better if you have a Russian friend with you to help explain.

thumb_IMG_3163_1024Above: I brought my book with me, Tolstoy’s “How Much Land Does a Man Need?”


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