V. P. Sukachev Mansion / Усадьба В. П. Сукачёва
Ул. Декабрских Событий 112
Hours: Tues.-Sun. 10:00 – 17:30
Entrance: 100 rubles, free for students with Russian student ID.
Phone: 8(3952)53-12-24, Website: www.sukachoff.ru
The house-museum is a peculiarly Russian institution; in most Russian cities one can find small, underfunded museums preserving the apartments and possessions even of relatively unknown local notables. Some of these museums can offer fascinating glimpses into the lives of the erstwhile inhabitants of the region, while others can be extremely dry and pointless, serving mainly to provide pensions to the grumpy old women who so frequently act as guardians of these cultural institutions. The Sukachev Mansion (pronounced Sukachyov) stands apart from the many Russian house-museums due to its size, changing exhibits, and pretty grounds.
The Sukachev Mansion is the preserved home of a wealthy Siberian merchant family, consisting of a main house and several outbuildings as well as a sizeable garden surrounding the building. The buildings themselves are quite unique, constructed wholly out of wood but in a much more ornate, palatial style than most traditional Siberian wooden architecture. The main house in particular is highly decorated with scrollwork and wooden cutouts, looking somewhat like a carved wooden jewelry box, or perhaps a very small wooden version of Tsarskoe Selo in Saint-Petersburg. Outside the buildings, the small park is a very pretty place to stroll both in summer and winter, with pretty birch and pine trees as well as interesting plantings (one of the Sukachevs seems to have been quite a horticulturist).
The museum itself consists of several different sections: the main house holds the permanent exhibit, which consists mainly of memorabilia from the Sukachev family and from old Irkutsk in general. In particular, the Sukachevs were art collectors, and there is an interesting selection of paintings by Siberian artists of the late 19th century. The main building also has a ballroom which is occasionally used for special events. The three outbuildings are used to hold a wide variety of temporary exhibits. When I visited, there were exhibits of Buryat photography, Siberian porcelain, and sculpture and pottery of the native peoples of Siberia. Overall, the temporary exhibits generally focus on aspects of local Siberian culture, but seem to vary widely in subject.
Overall, the Sukachev Mansion is an interesting museum which most tourists don’t get to; just the spectacular house and grounds make it worth a visit and the exhibits can be quite intriguing as well. Wait till you get your student ID, and then go for free!