The F.M.Dostoevsky Museum-Apartment (an affiliate of the State Literary Museum)
2 Dostoevsky St., Moscow, Russia, 103020
Tel. (095) 281-10-85
On October 30, 1821, in an apartment annex of the Moscow Marinsky Hospital for the Poor on Bozhedomka Street, where Mikhail Dostoevsky served as a staff doctor, his wife Maria gave birth to a son, Fyodor. The future writer lived in this residence until May 1837, when his father sent him to Petersburg with his older brother Mikhail.
Dostoevsky's first and happiest memories are associated with Moscow - his gentle, loving mother; his brothers and sisters, with whom he shared true friendship; family reading sessions; their walks around the city together, visiting churches, holidays, fairs; first books; and going to the theater. Images from his childhood would remain in his memory throughout his life: "A person cannot even live without something sacred and precious from childhood to carry into life These memories may even be painful or bitter, yet the suffering one has undergone can be later transformed into something sacred for the soul. People, in fact, are generally so created as to love the suffering they have undergone". One of Dostoevsky's favorite characters, Alyosha Karamazov, expresses the author's own deepest-held thoughts at the end of the novel The Brothers Karamazov: "You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, and especially a memory of childhood, of home If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days"
The presence of Moscow can be felt in many of Dostoevsky's works. However, in most cases Moscow events occur "behind the scenes" - some of Dostoevsky's characters spend their childhood in Moscow, others go there for some time. In the novels this is usually only mentioned, and the action is not transferred to Moscow. The city always remained Dostoevsky's "distant homeland." Again and again he would return there, occasionally several times a year. After prison camp and exile in Siberia, Dostoevsky wanted to live in Moscow. All his letters of this period end with some expression of his hope to return there. However, his brother Mikhail, with whom he was preparing to undertake new literary projects, resided elsewhere and fate brought him back to Petersburg.
Dostoevsky was in Moscow for the last time six months before his death. At the 1880 celebrations for the unveiling of a monument to Aleksandr Pushkin, he gave his famous speech on the poet, which became, in a way, the writer's own spiritual testament. His speech made an extraordinary impression, as Dostoevsky informed his wife by letter: "I finally began reading: I was stopped by thunderous applause on absolutely every page, and sometimes even at every sentence...Strangers among the audience wept, sobbed, embraced each other and swore to one another to be better, not to hate one another from now on, but instead to love one another".
In 1837 Dostoevsky had left Moscow as a young unknown, and in 1880 he departed as a great writer, applauded by the entire city.
On November 11,1928, Moscow witnessed the opening of the first F.M. Dostoevsky Museum, located in the northern wing of the former Marinsky Hospital for the Poor, the site of the writer's birth and childhood. Family heirlooms (books, portraits, and household items) supplied by the writer's descendants formed the basis of the exhibit. From the family estate in Darovoe, the museum received some of the furniture that had belonged to Dostoevsky's parents. In the 1930s, the holdings were enriched by a unique and invaluable source: the belongings of the writer's widow, Anna Grigorievna. The Dostoevskys' former apartment never underwent remodeling, but from 1979-1982, after some repair and restoration work, the adjoining rooms were also reconstructed. The interiors of the apartment were recreated according to the memoirs of Dostoevsky's younger brother, Andrei, who described, in great detail, the years he spent with his older brothers in his parents' home:
"our father, already a family man, having at that time four or five children, and enjoying the rank of senior officer, occupied an apartment which consisted, strictly speaking, of two formal rooms, aside from the entryway and the kitchen Upon entering through the cold outer door, as usually happens, there was an entryway with one window (onto the front courtyard). To the rear of this fairly deep entryway was a half-lit space for the children's room, sectioned off with the aid of a wooden partition which didn't reach to the ceiling. Then followed the main living area, a fairly sizeable room with two windows onto the street and three onto the front courtyard. Then there was the sitting room, with two windows onto the street, which was also sectioned off with a wooden partition to form a half-lit area for my parents 'bedroom. That was the whole apartment! Afterwards, in the 1830s, when the family grew even larger, another room, with three windows onto the rear courtyard, was added to the apartment The kitchen, which was fairly large, was situated in a particular way, through the cold outer door. The decor in the apartment was also very modest: the entry corridor and the children's room were painted with a dark pearl-colored paint, the living area in canary-yellow, and the sitting room and bedroom in dark cobalt. Wallpaper was still not in use at that time. Our three Dutch stoves were of enormous proportions and were made out of what was called ribbon tile (with dark blue borders). The furnishings were also very simple. In the living area were two card tables (between the windows) Then there was a dining table in the middle of the room and a dozen and a half birch chairs in a light varnish, with soft cushions made of green morocco leather. (Oilcloths to cover the furniture upholstery were also not in existence then. Furniture was upholstered either with morocco leather or material made out of hair.) In the sitting room there was a couch, a few armchairs, Mama s dressing table, an armoire, and a bookcase There were, of course, no curtains for the windows or drapes for the doors; the windows were fitted with simple white calico shades with no decorations ".