Little streams make great rivers
The Witness of Time exhibition opened on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the House Museum of First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party
The Witness of Time exhibition opened on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the House Museum of First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in Minsk. During its centuries-old history, this little house, as the residents of the capital lovingly call it, has witnessed many historical events. And over the years of the museum’s existence, it has been visited by numerous delegations and politicians from around the world, including Fidel Castro, Josip Broz Tito, Walter Ulbricht and others.
We asked Director of the National Historical Museum of the Republic of Belarus Aliaksandr Khramy to give our readers a short tour and note the most interesting facts in two exhibition halls.
Mobile house— Do you know that the House Museum of First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in Minsk is not original? Initially, it stood on Zakharyevskaya Street, which was the main and longest one and ran along the line of the sidewalk of the modern Independence Avenue, — Aliaksandr Khramy recalls. — The entire area in the vicinity was wooden and burned out almost completely during the Great Patriotic War. Immediately after it’s end, serious work was begun to restore the city. But since the master plan for the development of Minsk assumed wide avenues, it was no longer possible to install the house in its original place. In 1948, on the occasion of the first anniversary date — the 50th anniversary, the restored house-museum was placed as close as possible to the historical site, but the modest wooden building did not fit into the architectural appearance of the rapidly growing avenue of the capital, and then the house was moved closer to Svisloch River, to the very place where it has been located for the last 70 years, since 1953.
Amazing resemblance— Pre-war photographs with the appearance of the memorial part of the house have been preserved. And if we compare the current appearance of the museum and the original, we will see that everything is completely identical. For us, museum workers, such similarity is a matter of special pride. In addition, today, glass and ceramics of the pre-war period, which were found during archaeological excavations in the area of the original house-museum, are carefully stored in four showcases of the house-museum.
The first museum in the BSSR— We have already noted that in Soviet times the House Museum of the First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was of exceptional importance. Firstly, this is the very first museum of Belarusian statehood. All official delegations that visited the BSSR came to our ‘house’ without fail. I will add that it was extremely difficult and honourable to get a certification of a guide here at that time. Moreover, all subsequent museums that appeared in the country were required to take an expert assessment of the employees of the house-museum. And I just had a curious rhyme. Do you remember at one of the congresses of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party it was decided that the Social Democrats should publish a single newspaper, Iskra? ‘From a spark a fire will flare up’, Lenin liked to repeat.
This is how a whole museum industry appeared from our small house-museum in Belarus, which is successfully developing now.
The unquenchable interest of the public in museum events is a vivid confirmation of the words of the director. Let us remember that one can see rare photographs that capture the historical moments of the museum’s life at the Witness of Time anniversary exhibition. There are photos of nine participants of the First Congress, books, periodicals and other materials related to the history of the issue.
Young visitors of the exhibition will be impressed by the model of the nearby avenue recreated on a 3D printer, thanks to the houses on magnets they will be able to feel like architects and place the city dominant at their discretion.
The realisation of a simple historical fact makes adult guests lose their breath: it was in Minsk that the future of the USSR was laid in a modest green house number 133 on Zakharyevskaya Street, where the First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was held from March 1st to March 3rd, 1898.
Additionally, the Witness of Time exhibition dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the museum will run at the House Museum of the First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party for several months.
By Victoria Popova