Sitting room in the Volkonsky house

Decembrists Museum: Volkonsky Mansion in Irkutsk

Published: December 17, 2011

Decembrists Museum: Volkonsky Mansion /
Музей декабристов: Дом-музей Волконских

пер. Волконского, 10  
Open from 10 am to 6 pm, closed Mondays
General admission: 200 Rubles, but many different discounts for elderly, students, and entry for college students is free

Located on a small street off of Timuryaeva, not far from the bus station, the Volkonsky Mansion of the Decembrists Museum is not the easiest to find, but worth the effort if you’re interested in Russian and Siberian history. The museum focuses on the Volkonsky’s, a socialite family who were exiled to Siberia after the Decembrist revolt. Maria Volkonsky, the youngest daughter of the family, was arguably one of Siberia’s most influential people. She was featured in poems by Pushkin and Eugene Onegin was dedicated to her.

Just inside the lavender gates is a large courtyard decorated with flower patches and an old well. The house itself is two floors and the rooms inside are arranged in a courtyard layout around a central staircase. The top floor houses the bedrooms and a private sitting room, as well as Maria Volkonskaya’s study, which contains the Volkonsky’s famous pyramidal piano. Near the back stairwell, which was used by the servants, is Maria Volkonskaya’s greenhouse, where the museum staff takes great pride in having been able to recreate the lemon plant which Volkonskaya managed to grow in Siberia’s harsh climate.

One of the interesting things about the Decembrists museum is the emphasis put on the wives of the Decembrists, who are represented in great detail throughout the museum. Their stories are inspiring to read. And the portraits of the women who chose to leave their Saint Petersburg homes and families behind to care for their husbands in a new and unfamiliar Siberian settlement are stiking. The Volkonsky Mansion is a view into their new life in Siberia and their adaptation to life in exile.

Out the gates of the Volkonsky Mansion and down a small path to the right is a statue erected in memory of the wives of the Decembrists, a very bold and powerful sculpture which should not be missed after your trip to the Volkonsky Mansion.

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About the author

Danya Spencer

Danya Spencer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages – Russian & Chinese from Lewis and Clark University. She is currently studying in the year-long Home and Abroad Program with The School of Russian and Asian Studies. This program combines study abroad in Russia, an intensive professional internship focusing on translation, research, and writing.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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