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About the Lordly Life, the Snow Maiden, Jewelers and “Kostroma Gold”

On October 13, the Association of Private Museums of Russia went to Kostroma and visited five museums, which are House of the Mayor G.N. Botnikov, Museum of Jewelry Art, Museum of Cheese, Terem (Chamber) of the Snow Maiden and the Snow Maiden’s Fashion House. All museums are members of the Association and are included in its museum catalog.

The House of the Mayor G.N. Botnikov Museum has preserved the lordly life of the early XX century. The house of the former owner, Gennady Nikolaevich Botnikov, a public figure, mayor in 1898–1912 and a Member of the III State Duma from Kostroma province, was erected in 1908 and was based an earlier building, which was partially used as a foundation. The museum was opened in 2014, thanks to the Private Initiative in Support of the Russian Province program and the Russian Museum Business project, developed by Nikolai Viktorovich Kuzovlev.

Now that the museum is not memorial, there are quite a few items related to Gennady Nikolaevich. The house traditionally hosts guided tours and permanent and temporary exhibitions. For example, now there are exhibited items of decorative art by French masters of the tapestry – hand woven compositions similar to paintings with cross-weaving of threads.

The house is divided into several rooms. There is a table covered with cloth and two types of chairs in the playing area: one for men, one for ladies. There is everything in the ladies’ room: hair tongs, dressing tables where women put themselves in order and small beds on which they slept. There is also a men’s room in the house, where men gathered and discussed the most important state affairs and smoked tobacco. A person entering this room was given a hat, either silk or satin, and a robe.

Kostroma, being one of the favorite cities of Russian tourists, is also known for its masters of cheese making. Coming here, every tourist necessarily buys a small piece of delicious Kostroma gold – this is how cheese is called here. There is a real Museum of Cheese in Kostroma, founded by the businessman Mikhail Popov, located in an old merchant mansion of the late 18th century. In the Museum of Cheese you can learn about the cheese traditions of different nations and taste real Kostroma cheeses, the production technology of which has never changed.

Aleksandr Ostrovsky, the Kostroma playwright, the father of the Snow Maiden fairytale, also brought considerable fame to Kostroma. In honor of this character of the Russian fairy tale, businessman Mikhail Popov founded the Terem (Chamber) of the Snow Maiden Exhibition and Entertainment Complex, built in wooden architecture style, and the Snow Maiden’s Fashion House.

The members of the Association are met by the high Terem and greeted according to all the traditions of Russian hospitality – with respect and cordiality, riddles, proverbs and sayings, where every word is folk wisdom, songs, dances and reverences. Arriving here, you plunge into a Russian fairy tale. On the tour, you can meet not only the Snow Maiden, but also other fairy-tale characters, such as brownies and the Bayun-Cat, and learn the legends and traditions of the Berendeys. Most importantly, here you can feel like children, regardless of age! The museum preserves the traditions of Russian folklore, instilling an interest in folk culture in young Kostroma residents.

A rich artistic imagination has been invested in the creation of the Snow Maiden’s Fashion House Interactive Museum. As a character, the Snow Maiden is reflected in the visual arts, literature, cinema and music. The museum offers to make a fascinating journey through the elegant halls and see the images of the fairy tale character.

Whether to consider Snow Maiden and cheeses to be the main attractions of Kostroma or not, opinions on this issue may be different, at least Denis Ivantsov, director of the Museum of Jewelry Art, has his own vision of history on this matter. Kostroma, as the jewelry capital of Russia, is nevertheless closer to him. The museum created by Denis tells about the development of jewelry in Kostroma, and the exhibits presented in the exposition are unique.

“Historians say our first jewelers appeared in the first millennium as our local Merya population riveted and hammered here, and made jewelry of this kind, so this is evidenced by archaeological excavations,” says Denis Sergeevich.

On October 1, the Museum of Jewelry Art turned seven years old. Not only the exhibits, but the building itself, in which it is located, is nothing more than a cultural heritage. It was built in the 18th century by the abbot of two nearby churches – the Church of Resurrection and the Georgievskaya Church. The old foundations on huge boulders and uniquely beautiful brickwork have been preserved. “Over time, this building was reconstructed, and its architecture changed, but when we made a museum, we still tried to emphasize and preserve all its architectural features, even the floor is kept in its original form, so you need to be very careful in the museum and look around,” noted the director of the museum Denis Ivantsov.

On Wednesday, the Association of Private Museums of Russia will visit Nizhny Novgorod. The route of the expedition is designed for eight days; its goal is to unite the owners of private museums, find new museums, and open new horizons for cooperation. The expedition is headed by Alexey Shaburov.