Add the Korolenko Museums to Your Itinerary
If you delve into the books of Ukrainian history, you will discover a man by the name of Vladimir Korolenko (1853-1921). Vladimir Korolenko was a Russian writer who was of Ukrainian-polish origin. He is known, not only for his literary works (short stories and journalistic writings), but also as a fierce human rights activist and a humanitarian. His most notable and courageous act was his efforts to protect all the people living in and around Poltava despite their political orientation during the civil war. He continued to fend for these people right up until his death.
There are many stories both about and by Korolenko that will amaze and astound you. As a strong critic of the Tsarist regime and later of the Bolsheviks, Korolenko quickly became unpopular among higher circles. Nevertheless he fiercely stood for what he believed in. Today many of his short stories are known for their harsh but true portrayal of nature. Many of these descriptions were based on what he observed during his time spent in exile in Siberia. Ultimately, it seems, it was his literature and the power of the written word which would be left behind as his legacy.
Two memorial museums now exist in Ukraine which are dedicated to the memory of this great Russian writer. The Korolenko Museum in Poltava is perhaps the more well-known of the two. The building it is housed in what was originally designed and built to be a public museum and it opened its doors in 1886 as the Kharkov Public Library. However in 1922 it was renamed in memory of the writer and by 1930 it had become a prominent tribute to the past. Today the museum in Poltava houses more than 8 000 items, including paintings, books manuscripts, photographs, letters from Mykhailo Kotsiubynksy and other personal belongings that were once owned by Korolenko. The museum is located at 11 Korolenka Street, Poltava.
The Korlenko Museum in Zhytomyr was opened in 1973 in the building in which the famous writer and activist was born. It also has a good collection that includes as many as 550 different items, including photographs, letters and some first editions of Korlenko’s famous literary works. The homestead has a very personal feel to it that many visitors find quite stirring. If you are interested in finding out more about this great writer of the past, you can do no better than to explore both museums during a visit to Ukraine.