The Modernization of the Museum of Marc Chagall
Originally constructed as a home for the Chagall family by Marc Chagall’s father in the early 1900’s, this museum in Vitebsk (now in Belarus) is where Chagall conceived many of the themes and ideas that brought him future success. To preserve Chagall’s memory and work, his famous home was transformed into a museum that opened in 1997. People can visit the artist’s home, admire copies of his artwork, and walk through the city that stimulated his artistic talent. Today, further additions have been made not only to the museum, but also to the vicinity in order to entice more tourists to take a holiday trip and stay in the realm of the legendary artist.
The History of the City of Vitebsk
According to legend, Vitebsk was founded in 947 by Princess Olga of Kiev after a victory in the war over the Baltic tribe Jacviahi. However, according to historical records, Vitebsk was actually founded in 1021 when Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev awarded it to Bryachislav Ezyaslavovitch, the Duke of Polotsk. In 1320, Vitebsk was included in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569. In 1772, the city was officially taken over by the Russian Empire. Vitebsk was part of the Soviet Union from 1919 to 1991, but was controlled by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944. Much of the city was destroyed during the battles of World War II. Today, the city is famous for its annual international arts festival, the “Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk”, which dedicates itself primarily to Slavic music.
Originally a very small Jewish village that consisted of many wooden houses, Vitebsk has changed drastically since the 19th century when Chagall and his family first lived there. When arriving in modern Vitebsk, you will be able to see more than a few simple wooden huts. There is a lot to see in the small city where Chagall was born. Not only will you be able to visit the museum of Marc Chagall, but you will also be able to admire many of the area’s other attractions such as the Annunciation Church, the steel TV tower, the town hall, the Russian Governor’s Palace, and the famous obelisk that celebrates the anniversary of the Russian victory over Napoleon.
There will be no need to rush through the museum or the other fascinating sites in order to catch the next ride out of the city. A hotel will be available so that you can take your time and sightsee at your own pace. This hotel will feature a panoramic view of Marc Chagall’s house and its surroundings. The first floor of the hotel will be in brick while the second floor will be wooden; it will be fashioned to closely resemble the style of old 19th century houses. Not only will this structure be used as a hotel, but it will also serve as a tourist complex. You will find a café and a gift shop on the main floor and the inn on the second floor, where you will be awed by the spectacular view of the Chagall home.
Development of the Area Surrounding the Museum
Seeing as how Chagall is Vitebsk’s hometown hero, the directors and owners of the museum thought it would be a good idea to further expand and develop the museum’s surrounding area. Visitors will be able to find an entire block specifically dedicated to all of Chagall’s different works. The area will be transformed in order to appear the way it did in the 19th century when young Chagall and his family were living there. The modernization of the Marc Chagall Art Centre features an additional building where there is a library, children’s art school, modern exhibition halls, and museum amenities. In this centre, you will be able to view and admire various lithographs, woodcuts, aquatints, and etchings by the great Marc Chagall. Lots of things to do and sights to see when you make your way down to Pokrovskaia Street in Vitebsk.
The restoration and modernization of the Marc Chagall museum and the surrounding area was a formidable undertaking well-worth the estimated cost of 2.5 million dollars since the project will allow visitors to examine and appreciate the works of Chagall, all the while imagining what stirred his artistic abilities. Undoubtedly, it is a place that will inspire others to become the next Marc Chagall.
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About the Author
Julie Gladstone is an aspiring artist and avid Marc Chagall fan. She provides content for the Marc Chagall Paintings website.