Art lovers visiting Moscow, should spend at least few hours in the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum. Indeed the museum displays the largest collection of foreign arts from ancient times to the present days in Russia.
Three commemorative plaques have been placed on the wall of the museum. The first one is dedicated to Иван Владимирович Цветаев (Ivan Vladimirovich Tsvetaev), professor of the Moscow University, founder of the museum. On the second one, you can read the name of the architect, Роман Иванович Клейн (Roman Ivanovich Klein), author of the project and supervisor during the construction of the museum. The third plaque is dedicated to Юрий Степанович Нечаев-Мальцов (Yury Stepanovich Nechaev-Maltsov), patron of the museum.
Марина Ивановна Цветаева (Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva), the great poetess and daughter of Ivan Vladimirovich, recalls в книге “Отец и его музей” (in her book “My father and his museum”) the years that preceded the creation of the museum:
“The bells rang, annunciating the death of the Emperor Alexander III, and at the same time and old woman from Moscow was passing away. Listening to the bells, she said: “- Хочу, чтобы оставшееся после меня состояние пошло на богоугодное заведение памяти почившего государя” (I want that what’s left after me goes to charitable institutions in memory of the deceased monarch).
The fortune was not much: only twenty thousand roubles. With those twenty thousand roubles from the old lady began the museum.
Вот в точности, слово в слово (this is precisely, word by word), the story I constantly heard since I was a child from my father Ivan Vladimir Tsvetaev, about the origin of the Museum of Fine Arts named after the Emperor Alexander III.
Но мечта о музее началась намного раньше (but the dream of the museum started much earlier), in a distant time when my father, сын бедного сельского священника (the son of a poor village priest) from Talitsy, in the province of Vladimir, was sent on a travelling scholarship abroad by the Kiev University. At that time he was a twenty-six year-old philologist and впервые вступил ногой на римский камень (set his foot for the first time on Roman stone).
Но я ошибаюсь (but I’m mistaken), at that moment was born the resolve to bring the museum into existence, the dream of the museum began, of course, before Rome, when still in the gardens of Kiev, and perhaps, even in the thickets of Talitsy, where he studied Latin and Greek by the light of a burning splinter. “- Вот бы глазами взглянуть!” (Now if I only could see with my own eyes!)
And later, when he had seen it: “- Вот бы другие могли глазами взглянуть!” (Now if only others could see it with their own eyes!)
The foundation of the museum started on August, 29th, 1898, and officially opened on July, 13th, 1912. The estimated cost was of one million roubles. Университет не мог дать Цветаеву таких денег (the university couldn’t give such a high budget to Tsvetaev). The government was quite indifferent to the idea of a museum.
Tsvetaev had to make many attempts before he could find the right patron. Но в итоге судьба наградила его (but finally his efforts were rewarded). One of the richest men in Russia, Yury Stepanovich Nechaev-Maltsov, got interested by the project. Он стал главным, а точнее – единственным жертвователем Музея (he became the main benefactor, or to be exact, the only one). He immediately offered half-million roubles for the museum.
Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva recalls: “He would never agree on some trivial things by persistent senility. But when in 1905, his factories started to decline and to loose money, he didn’t cut his donation to the museum. Нечаев-Мальцов дал на Музей три миллиона, Государь – триста тысяч (Nechaev-Maltsov provided three million roubles to the museum, and the government, three hundred thousand). I am certain of those numbers. The Museum has fourteen years of disinterested work from my father and three million from a disinterested Maltsov.”