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Penza “Tarkhany” Museum-Reserve director Tamara Melnikova celebrates anniversary

11:45 | 15.11.2015 | Culture

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Penza, 15 November 2015. PenzaNews. Tamara Melnikova, director of the Penza region “Tarkhany” State Museum-Reserve, laureate of the Russian state prize in literature and arts, has turned 75 on Sunday, November 15.

Tamara Melnikova, director of the Penza region “Tarkhany” State Museum-Reserve

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Tamara Melnikova has been heading the museum since 1979.

It is only thanks to her work that “Tarkhany” became one of the cornerstones of Russian cultural heritage, says the website of the museum-reserve.

In the 1990s, Tamara Melnikova has developed a step-by-step project to turn the Tarkhany estate into a memorial complex, its core based on using the cultural composition approach with maximum reconstruction of architectural and natural environment of the estate, bringing the historical locations back to their roots, recreating the atmosphere and conditions that molded the vision of the poet Mikhail Lermontov and his attitude towards Russia as a whole along with the country’s history and culture. The first stage saw the reconstruction of then dilapidated architectural and landscape locations. Seeing the work as a priority with the funds lacking, Tamara Melnikova managed to secure a large range of sponsors: her call was answered by governors, deputies, bank managers, factory directors, company holding presidents. By answering her call, all sponsors helped assert their position by helping the common cause and recreating Lermontov’s estate in an initiative vital for the whole Russia.

In the workings of the museum, Tamara Melnikova introduced a complex of cutting-edge, scientifically based and systematic planning and project drafting measures, with a hand-picked crew of competent professionals able to find innovative technical solutions and analyze their consequences, which helped prevent causing dilapidation of the estate and its grounds and ensured the successful completion of recreation works for the landscape and the buildings.

She was the idea-maker and the organizer of an undertaking new to the Russian museum field – developing crafts traditional for an early 19th century estate, her well-designed green-technology of step-by-step location having been deemed fully successful. In a very delicate and non-intrusive manner, she managed to introduce an apiary, gardens, greenhouses, and flour mills, hay fields and fishing ponds, which began to produce significant funding to the museum and created new jobs for the local community.

During the stage of creating a new exposition complex, Tamara Melnikova proposed that each new exposition must both inform about the past and serve as an emotionally engaging space. To implement this important concept, the updated interior of the museum was expanded using items and elements of the regular life in the 19th century estate. Thanks to its excellent and talented implementation, this idea brought new life into the expositions using a language easily distinguishable to the modern public and helped the visitors see the atmosphere of Lermontov’s age and expand their education through this experience.

To liven up the emotional component of the atmosphere, Tamara Melnikova proposed a project to reconstruct leisure activities of the estate’s peasantry and nobility. Following the instructions of “Tarkhany” director, this project was implemented by the museum-reserve staff themselves instead of invited artists, and became the personal pride of both them and the Russian museum field as a whole. Their excellent level of preparation and experience in each event serves to educate both the staff and the visitors who become active rather than passive participants of each event. The emotions evoked during such entertainment invite the visitors into the culture of the past age, helping them form their personal preferences after the tour.

Tamara Melnikova has thoroughly documented a third of the current item fund of the museum-reserve, and described its “golden” memorial part in the book “I Dyshyt Neponyatnaya Svyataya Prelest V Nikh…” In this book, she expanded the knowledge base on Mikhail Lermontov, his family and acquaintances, as well as the whole science on Mikhail Lermontov, with new elements. For 25 years, she has been assisting and supporting the regular scientific magazine “Tarkhansky Vestnik” with researches in literature and museum science, as well as the history of Mikhail Lermontov. She helped prepare a great number of publications on current visions of the poet’s life and works that sum up the research and museum fixation of his legacy, through her authoring and editing assistance.

The cultural and artistic influence of “Tarkhany” continues to expand under Tamara Melnikova’s guidance. She was the person that helped create the Lermontov poetry days tradition, and bring them to the countrywide level: since 1971, annual events dedicated to Mikhail Lermontov’s works bring together thousands of people of any age, political views and confessions. She has established strategic contacts with scientific, cultural and educational structures of Russia on various levels and got in touch with campaigns of various scopes – each of them a contribution to engaging and motivating people for studies of Russian language and literature.

Her TV shows on the veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya (“Naedinye s Toboyu, Brat, Khotel By Ya Pobyt…” and “Kavkaz! Dalekaya Strana…”), as well as on young men drafted in the army (“Serving the Fatherland”), not only serve the mission of patriotic education for the modern generation, but also demonstrate the potential of the museum reserve as an institution for social consolidation and a location for a large variety of social and cultural initiatives.

The countrywide scope of Tamara Melnikova’s activities and her ability to coordinate the work of a director of an important cultural institution with the Russian cultural policy, became an important point in her biography.

She helped ingrain the historical phenomena in the Russian people’s cultural vision through popularizing Lermontov’s legacy, a movement that bore its fruits during the celebration of Mikhail Lermontov’s 200th anniversary: thanks to Tamara Melnikova’s personal contribution, the appreciation for the creations of the Russian literary genius increased significantly both within Russia and abroad.

She proposed and organized a large number of events during the Lermontov anniversary year. The most notable of them is the recreation of the early 19th century village in “Tarkhany” grounds; construction and opening of museum and education center with a one-of-a-kind exposition “Stages of a Short Path” that describes the locations related to the poet’s biography; and publishing of fundamental works on the subject – “Lermontov the Artist,” “Lermontov. Life and Works,” and “The Tarkhany Encyclopedia.”

The high point in Tamara Melnikova’s list of achievements is the recreation of historical outlook for the Mikhail Lermontov’s burial shrine (which had remained open for 75 years prior to that, in violation of all religious and secular tradition, due to a poor decision made by Soviet officials) – the hallmark event of the Lermontov anniversary year.

One of the latest initiatives by Tamara Melnikova is the creation of an unprecedented anniversary exposition that ties together documentaries, items and works of art from collections of a total of 37 Russian cultural organizations, held in the Pushkin State Museum. 

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