The return of ‘Northern Athens’ scheduled for late September

Michal Kleofas Oginski’s memoirs in the French and Belarusian languages to go on show at the composer’s museum-estate in Zalesie

At present, the estate is working to create a museum exhibition whose opening is scheduled for September 25th, marking the 250th anniversary since the birth of the former owner of the state, the world famous composer, political figure and diplomat, Michal Kleofas Oginski.



According to Zinaida Kucher, the Head of the State Museum of Theatrical and Musical Culture of the Republic of Belarus (and scientific supervisor of works to create the museum-estate’s exhibition), antiquarian exhibits (furniture, musical instruments, tableware, accessories, pictures, etc.) have been purchased, enabling the museum to create the details of the musician’s era, as Oginski’s personal belongings haven’t been preserved in Belarus.

In addition, electronic copies of documents and artefacts from the Oginski family, which were donated to the museum from the Moscow Archive of Ancient Acts (which keeps the originals) will be used. The organisers of the show plan to use contemporary technologies for the presentation of exhibits. “We’ll create the effect of Oginski’s presence on the estate, as well as a holographic story of his departure to Florence. Moreover, highly artistic models of separate items, e.g., certificates and Oginski’s stamp in a silver case, will be also created,” explains Ms. Kucher.


Estate of Oginski dukes in Zalesie

The exhibition will be divided into several topics. For example, a display will be placed in the entrance hall, dedicated to the restoration history of the estate. A separate part, devoted to Oginski’s music, will be exhibited. The musical parlour will showcase musical instruments from those times, a gallery of portraits, memorial furniture, tableware and a unique collection of calling cards of Oginski’s famous contemporaries (Chopin, Paganini and others).

Oginski’s cabinet will contain a trunk with documents, maps, Michal’s birth certificates, a mid-19th century writing table, a wall clock and a violin, alongside unique correspondence between the composer’s father, Andrzej Oginski, and the Polish King, Stanislaw August Poniatowski as well as Michal Kleofas’ note to King Alexander I. Moreover, Oginski’s memoirs in French will be also displayed, including a contemporary edition of his memoirs, released in the Belarusian language.



Both the large and small parlours will be arranged in a similar way, with the latter housing a display dedicated to Oginski’s secretary, Leonard Chodzko. The theatre and music hall will host concerts and performances, while a conservatory will be used for temporary exhibitions. There will be also a café, equipped with unique technology allowing each visitor to listen to Oginski’s music without disturbing each other. A separate exhibition will be dedicated to the history of Zalesie. “The estate will become a gem of a museum and will augment the musical culture of Belarus. Its exhibitions will rival those in Nesvizh and Mir,” added Ms. Kucher.

On September 25th, a huge festival entitled, The Return of Northern Athens will be held in the Oginski’s museum-estate and its programme is now being finalised. According to the museum’s director, Lyudmila Groditskaya, there are plans to open three creative arenas on the estate and to organise a concert of the National Academic Concert Orchestra (conducted by Mikhail Finberg) and Classic-Avantgarde ensemble of classical music. Moreover, the Golden Spur equestrian club will perform. On September 23-24th, an international conference will be held on the estate, dedicated to the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, with representatives from European embassies, as well as Oginski’s descendants through his daughter’s line, Iwo and Andrzej Zajuski, being invited for the celebrations.

By Tatiana Vishnevskaya

Photo BelTA
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