Sticking to my roots as a lover of literature and literary museums I had to take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Bulgakov house during my short visit to Moscow. This was one of my must see locations in the Russian capital, and lucky for me I was able to visit the museum as part of an event arranged by SRAS.
The museum itself consists of two former communal apartments located within the same courtyard. One of the apartments is Bulgakov’s former apartment, preserved much as he left it, and the other is the first apartment on the right once you enter the courtyard, which is now a more traditional museum to the artist and his work.
The converted apartment immediately inside the courtyard houses photographs of Bulgakov, his friends and relatives, as well as information on Bulgakov’s life and works. This apartment is rather small, yet cozy, with five rooms connected by a hallway. One of the rooms is dedicated entirely to Master and Margarita, and another is a café with a modest selection of interesting souvenirs. One of the most interesting features of this part of the museum is in the Master and Margarita room, in which there is a telephone that can be used to call the devil himself! (or Behemoth, Korovyev, or Azezello).
As for the other part of the museum, Bulgakov’s former apartment is not packed with as much information, and does not take as long to see; however, for me seeing his personal apartment was the best part of the museum experience. The entrance and stairwell leading up to his 4th floor apartment is covered in graffiti—all dedications to the author and his literary works, a tradition that started after Bulgakov’s works were first published in the Soviet Union (in the mid-60s, in censored versions, after his death).
The apartment itself is simple and preserved with a select few artifacts that shed light on the life of Bulgakov. One room has a desk and collection of books that originally belonged to the author. We were allowed to hold the books and see notes made by Bulgakov himself. Then in another room newspapers and journals were on display in which some of Bulgakov’s works were originally published, and in this room you can also see the typewriter Bulgakov used.
After the museum, we visited Patriarch’s Ponds, just around the corner from the Bulgakov Museum, and the scene of one of the most famous scenes from Master and Margarita, which capped off the experience quite nicely!
Of course I would recommend going to the Bulgakov Museum when in Moscow; however, some of the students on the same tour felt that the museum was interesting, but difficult to fully appreciate if you have not read any of Bulgakov’s writing.
The museum is located in the Tverskaya District of Moscow along Sadovaya Street, and is approximately a 5 minute walk from the Mayakovskaya Metro Station. Both potions of the museum are free to students.