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Galina Ulanova’s apartment on Kotelnicheskaya embankment is closed for restoration

Museum-apartment of Galina Ulanova

Museum-apartment of Galina Ulanova

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

From the first of August it is closed for restoration museum-apartment of Galina Ulanova in a house on Kotelnicheskaya embankment. This news came as a surprise to many. A couple of years ago, the apartment was already closed after an emergency: the neighbors set up a jacuzzi over the ballerina’s library and flooded the apartment so that the parquet stood on end. Antiquarian furniture and books by Galina Sergeevna were damaged. This time, fortunately, nothing terrible. No one flooded anything, the restoration is taking place as part of the creation of the Bakhrushinsky museum and theater quarter.

Correspondent KP.RU managed to get on the last tour before closing in the apartment of the “ordinary goddess” of the ballet.

Correspondent "KP" managed to get on the last excursion in the apartment before closing "ordinary goddess" ballet.

The correspondent of “KP” managed to get on the last excursion before closing in the apartment of the “ordinary goddess” of ballet.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

When, after the death of the ballerina, the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater Vladimir Vasiliev was asked if there would be a memorial museum in her apartment, he answered in the negative:

“Such museums are good only in the early years, when the memory of the former inhabitants is still alive in them. After a while, memorial museums turn into deserts”…

Time has shown how wrong Vasiliev was. Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Galina Sergeevna passed away, and the flow of people who want to get into the apartment is huge.

Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Galina Sergeevna passed away, and the flow of people who want to get into the apartment is huge.

Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Galina Sergeevna passed away, and the flow of people who want to get into the apartment is huge.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Green refrigerator.

Green refrigerator.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

“Ordinary goddess” called her writer Alexei Tolstoy. “A Man of Another Dimension” directed by Sergei Eisenstein. “Genius of Russian ballet” – composer Sergei Prokofiev. In the British TV series The Crown, there is an interesting episode when Queen Elizabeth II finds a photograph of Galina in her husband’s luggage, and then suffers for a long time and wonders if Philip cheated on her with a Russian ballerina or not. The version is interesting, but the museum does not share it.

(“These are absolute inventions!” – says Oksana Karnovich, head of the museum-apartment).

The ballerina moved to the famous Stalinist skyscraper in 1952.

The ballerina moved to the famous Stalinist skyscraper in 1952.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Ballerina moved to the famous Stalinist skyscraper in 1952. The list of the first tenants was approved by Lavrenty Beria himself and Ulanova got a three-ruble note, on the ninth floor. After more than thirty years, having made a complex exchange, the ballerina moved into a four-room apartment in the same building. It is here, in the last housing area of ​​one hundred and forty-five square meters, that the museum is located.

An apartment, like Ulanova's, costs about 150 million rubles.

An apartment, like Ulanova’s, costs about 150 million rubles.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Our photojournalist Vladimir Velengurin was very interested in the cost. Judging by the information on “Cyan”, such mansions cost about one hundred and fifty million rubles! The high-rise is a great public space. Recently, the house was restored, the panels in the corridor were updated and it became very good inside. The apartments have three-meter ceilings and such a view from the window that you can watch it for hours, like a TV. But, to tell the truth, the layout is not very successful. Narrow corridors, an awkwardly shaped small kitchen and a tiny bathroom. The fact that modern apartment dwellers strive to move and expand “wet spots” – in general, is not surprising. It’s a shame that the museum suffers from this.

It's amazing that a pink bidet was in the apartment from the very beginning!

It’s amazing that a pink bidet was in the apartment from the very beginning!

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Ballerina bed.

Ballerina bed.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

The museum managed to preserve the atmosphere that Galina Sergeevna had. In small rooms there is no feeling of cramped furniture, which, by the way, the ballerina brought with her from Leningrad, where she was born and studied. The situation to this day looks very dignified, which is not surprising: part of the furniture was bought in the Hermitage (there were times when the museum held sales and it was possible to get hold of antiques inexpensively).

Part of the furniture was bought in the Hermitage

Part of the furniture was bought in the Hermitage

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

True, some of the exhibits still turned out to be a surprise. For example, a pot-bellied wardrobe of the “eighteenth century”, filled with various trifles, turned out to be not antiques at all, but the products of an Armenian workshop. But the museum staff themselves learned about this relatively recently, during the restoration. You can write a separate article about the contents of this “Armenian exhibit”. For example, an awkwardly sculpted female face can be seen there. This is a gift from Anna Pavlova. In her free time, the ballerina took modeling lessons and relaxed by sculpting herself.

Anna Pavlova's gift

Anna Pavlova’s gift

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

There is an armchair in the room, which the ballerina used as a barre, performing exercises, next to the chair there is a footstool “with a surprise”: on the back there is an inscription of the actress Tatyana Piletskaya. And also – a huge mirror, in front of which the future ballerina practiced in childhood.

Footrest "with a surprise": on the back - a dedication inscription of the actress Tatyana Piletskaya.

Footstool “with a surprise”: on the back – a dedicatory inscription of the actress Tatyana Piletskaya.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

As one of the visitors to the museum, who once helped Galina Ulanova to transport things, said, he was amazed that when moving, the ballerina did not forget even a simple straw toy.

– Why is she here? he wondered.

– This is a gift! – answered Ulanova.

Galina Sergeevna was indifferent to everyday life, but attentive to the gifts of fans. One of these gifts, which does not fit well with the interior of the apartment, is a huge Mickey Mouse sitting on an old sofa. Another gift, this time from English fans, was poodle Bolshikwhich was delivered for the ballerina on a special royal plane.

Plush Mickey Mouse does not fit into the interior of the apartment.

Plush Mickey Mouse does not fit into the interior of the apartment.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

From the living room we get into a small room – the bedroom of Galina Sergeevna. A small bed, size thirty-five slippers, and a portrait of a girl on the wall. Visitors may think that this is a portrait of the ballerina herself as a child, but in fact this is a childish image of her friend and Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist Tatyana Agafonova.

Childhood photo of Tatyana Agafonova.

Childhood photo of Tatyana Agafonova.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Unusual friendship

What kind of nonsense is not being told about this union. But in the museum, Tatyana is tactfully called “companion, girlfriend, housekeeping assistant.”

It all started with an interview. Agafonova planned to write a book about the great ballerina. Being a punchy person, she immediately took the bull by the horns, and, without asking permission, entered Ulanova’s box during the concert. The next day, the ballerina invited the journalist to her home for photographs. Knowing that the ballerina does not know how to cook at all, the guest brought with her full bags of provisions: a delicious first course, a second course, and even cranberry jelly … This is how their friendship began. Soon Agafonova resigned from Komsomolskaya Pravda, and then the women exchanged apartments and moved in together.

Ulanova carefully kept the gifts.

Ulanova carefully kept the gifts.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Ulanova represented her as her adopted daughter. Two women lived together in the same apartment for twenty years. Agafonova’s death from cancer was one of the hardest blows for the ballerina. After her friend’s funeral, she spent a year in the hospital, and when she returned home, she put Tatyana’s photo on the TV and talked to her every day.

Photo by Tatyana Agafonova.

Photo by Tatyana Agafonova.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

In general, information about the role of Agafonova is very contradictory. Someone condemns the journalist for scaring people away from Ulanova and deciding for her who the ballerina will communicate with and with whom not. But the museum-apartment staff very delicately say that Galina Sergeevna really needed Agafonova.

– Galina Sergeevna herself could neither ask for anything, nor, moreover, demand, – says Oksana Karnovich. – For example, during trips, she had to sit in front, in the best places, and when she got on the bus, she went to the back rows, because she was embarrassed to ask. Tatyana did not allow this. She beat out all the best for Ulanova.

The cramped kitchen of Ulanova's apartment.

The cramped kitchen of Ulanova’s apartment.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

At the insistence of Agafonova, a Finnish kitchen set, fashionable for those times, appeared in the apartment, a technique that still works quite well today. “I was with her like behind a stone wall,” Ulanova admitted.

The museum shows a touching detail: a notebook of a journalist. Shortly before leaving, suffering from pain that did not relieve the drugs, Tatyana compiled detailed instructions for using the washing machine for Beloved Galina Sergeevna.

Tatyana carefully wrote to Ulanova how to use the washing machine.

Tatyana carefully wrote to Ulanova how to use the washing machine.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Two different apartments

The other day in the Bakhrushin Museum opened memorial apartment of Maya Plisetskaya .Both apartments of the ballerinas are as different as possible from each other, and if there is anything in common between them, it is perhaps the same light green refrigerator. (Apparently, brought from a tour in Japan).

– Well, Maya Mikhailovna is quite modest, – Bakhrushinsky’s employees say.

Ulanova's costumes.

Ulanova’s costumes.

A photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

But it’s not only that. At Plisetskaya, the guest becomes uneasy. It seems that the inhabitant of the apartment does not really want someone to walk around her house. This is felt by the staff (“Maya Mikhailovna has not yet allowed”) and Valery Gergiev, who came to the opening of the apartment. (The master’s voice trembled and he admitted that everything was as if it had happened yesterday).

Otherwise, Galina Ulanova. The apartment is quiet, thoughtful and very comfortable.

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