The Russian Way

In the Footsteps of Bulgakov in Moscow and Kiev


The first public Bulgakov Museum was established in March 2007 by the Moscow City Council in flat 50 at 10 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street. The writer’s first Moscow residence was in this building and the institute considers itself to be the first and only Bulgakov memorial museum in Moscow. In autumn 1921 Bulgakov moved into the building, but a different flat, with his first wife, Tatiana Lappa. He moved to no. 50 in 1924 and this is the one known from his The Master and Margareta. The Mikhail Bulgakov Foundation was established in 1990 with the aim of making no. 50 accessible to the public. The goal is to preserve the special atmosphere of the place, which relates to several periods of history – pre-revolutionary Russia, the Soviet era and the post-Soviet period alike. In the summer of 1924 the writer moved to a quieter flat on the fifth floor, no. 34, which appears in The Master and Margareta as no. 302. With that he ensured his wife’s residence, since the following year they were already divorced. He married his second wife, Lyubov Belozerskaya, in April 1925. At the time the building’s originally multi-room apartments had been divided up and were co-tenancies, as recalled in Bulgakov’s novel. Besides a continuous struggle with another museum on the ground floor, the institute has been troubled by internal contradictions, such that the day before the fifth anniversary of the museum’s foundation, on 14 May 2012, the city’s cultural authority dismissed the director and invited applications for a new one. Since autumn 2012 the Italian architect Gabriele Filippini has been the director. He presented an ambitious plan to the public and the funding authority, expressing the intention of working with everyone aiming to preserve the memory of Bulgakov, including the ground-floor memorial museum and the former director. The other Bulgakov Museum at 10 Bolshaya Sadovaya is called the Bulgakov House Museum-Theatre. The privately-owned institute was founded earlier than the state museum, being established in 2004, since when there has been constant rivalry between the two. In contrast with the official museum, this one has free entrance and its opening times are more visitor-friendly, from 1 pm to 11 pm, and on Saturday it can be visited until 1 am. Apart from its archive of documents relating to Bulgakov, there is also a children’s theatre. In Kiev, the Bulgakov Literary Memorial Museum is known as the Bulgakov House, or the Listovnichni House (after a later owner). It was renovated between 1989 and 1991, and it was ready and opened in time for the centenary of Bulgakov’s birth. It houses around 3000 objects: the writer’s personal effects, books, postcards, photographs and documents. Its furnishings echo the former atmosphere. It was here that Bulgakov lived when a school pupil and a medical student, when he was already a practising doctor and later a writer.