Visit Moscow's Versailles

MTThe elegant Bakrushin Museum houses theater and ballet memorabilia.
Alexei Bakhrushin was part of a well-known merchant family: His grandfather rose from rags to riches through his work in the leather and textile industry. They lived modestly and financed schools and hospitals in Moscow and Zaraisk, their hometown. Bakhrushin developed a weakness for theater and ballet, which eventually turned into an obsession. He amassed old photographs, autographs and pieces of attire for his personal collection, and turned it into a museum in 1913.

It is housed in a lovely gothic mansion, but the real surprise is the interior of the entrance hall, lavishly decorated with art covering even the ceiling. Before the revolution, the entire building also had a dark folklore feel to it and was referred to as "Versailles on Zatsepsky Square."

After the museum was nationalized, its employees heard a rumor that the mansion would be turned into an embassy and decided to rip most of the decorative elements out. When foreign representatives came on their visit, they weren't impressed.

To look at the collection today, you have to put on shoe covers, and not make sudden movements -- the museum workers have an uncompromising grip over their territory. Humor them and you can take a look at Anna Pavlova's ballet slippers, Shalyapin's costumes and photographs of actors grimacing wildly in pre-Stanislavskian performances.


Bakhrushin Museum, 31/12 Ul. Bakhrushina, M. Paveletskaya, 953-4470,, Open Wednesday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.