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State Memorial History, Art and Natural Museum-Reserve of V.D. Polenov


Tula Oblast
301011, Tula region, Zaoksky district, p/o Strakhovo
Phones: +7 (48734) 3–38–38
Web site:
Visit the first People's Artist of Russia The artist Polenov is from a noble family, but despite this, the Soviet regime spared his estate, and himself. He died in 1927, during the Soviet era. Not only did no one encroach on the estate, but in 1926 Polenov was awarded the title of People's Artist of the Republic! The house and the rest of the buildings are perfectly preserved, and a visit to the museum is an unforgettable experience.


The basis of the exposition is the personal collection of Vasily Polenov and his family. Over the years, four generations of the Polenov family, among which were bibliographers, military leaders, historians and painters, contributed to the formation of this collection. In the house you can see the artist's personal belongings: the furniture (some of it made according to his sketches), photographs, archaeological collections, and collections of ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian art. There are also weapons, for example, the Winchester rifle, brought by Vasily Polenov from the Serbian-Turkish war, in which he served voluntarily. And, of course, an important part of the display by the artist himself and his friends from the Academy of Arts, including: Repin, Shishkin, Vasnetsov, and others, as well as his students Levitan, Korovin and Ostroukhov. Museum visitors can also see rare paintings brought by the artist from Europe. For example, the painting by Veronese entitled Jacob's Struggle with God is on display, which dates back to the 15th century. The large house has two floors, with rooms in an excellent condition showcasing the artist’s many paintings and collections. There are also huge windows with views of the garden and surroundings. The rest of the manor buildings are also open to the public. Exhibitions are held there. Nowadays, the territory of the museum also includes the church of St. Trinity, built based on the design by Vasily Polenov in 1906, the cemetery in Bekhovo, where the artist and his family are buried, as well as the Town of Craftsmen, the Tourist Center and the school of V.D. Polenov in Strakhov.


Once, on the way to Crimea, the artist Vasily Polenov saw the Oka river from the carriage window and was amazed by the beauty of these places. His encounter with these sites happened in 1887. The artist thought about how he would like to settle on the Oka. And in 1890, his dream came true. He became the owner of the land. The house of the future estate was built according to the original project of the artist himself, who was very interested in architecture. On October 2, 1892, the family moved to a new, still unplastered, resinous, large house on the hill. This is the date on which the museum considers itself to have been founded. Polenov was very fond of his estate, he not only worked there, but also willingly invited rural children to his place, studied with them, and developed their interests. He wanted the estate to become a "nest of artists". In the meantime, new outbuildings were being built around the estate, including the Cowshed, the Kuretnik, the Coach Barn, the Hay Barn and the Stable, a wooden one-story house for workers called the "Manager's House", and a half-timbered barn. This barn was built in 1895 from limestone (Tarusa marble). This once held the carpentry workshop of Ivan Mikhailovich Nikishin, who made boats for the Polenov flotilla according to Polenov's drawings. Another important building on the territory of the estate is the Abbey, a white brick building with a red roof. During Polenov's lifetime, it housed his workshop. After Vasily Polenov's death, his son became the director of the museum. In October 1937, he and his wife Anna Pavlovna were arrested and sent to camps for ten years, and the Committee for Arts ordered the museum to be liquidated within ten days. Yet, fortunately, the resolution was not given the go-ahead. Meanwhile, Polenov's daughters fought all this time for their brother and for the museum. And they won. The museum survived. In 1939, Polenov's heirs donated the estate to the state with all the artistic treasures in it. In 2014, the Vasily Polenov Museum-Reserve was recognized as a cultural heritage site of federal significance.

Interesting Facts

In 1892 the Polenov Museum became the first Russian art museum in the village, accessible to the widest circle of visitors. Perhaps that is why in May 1918 it became one of the first museums in the country, taken under state protection. As such it was not subject to confiscation and was declared a national treasure. In 1941, the front line passed through Polenovo. The exhibits were partially evacuated or partially hidden in basements. In May 1945, the museum was reopened to the public. After the death of the artist, the first director of the Vasily Polenov Museum was his son, Dmitry Vasilyevich. The museum has been passed down from generation to generation. Since 2012, it has been directed by the artist's great-granddaughter Natalya Fedorovna Polenova.