Museum of Taras Shevchenko’s Stay in the Village of Moshny, a branch of Cherkasy Regional Local History Museum, was opened in early January in the village of Moshny, Cherkasy region. Uniquely, the museum is housed in an authentic mid-19th century rural house where Shevchenko lived in July 1859 after his arrest in Prokhorivka. In just two months, Lviv restorers renovated this house as well as stables, well and farmyard. However, some work is still ongoing. For example, they are reviving the fake well and repairing other small parts.
Shevchenko’s unfortunate stay in Moshny in 1859 was not his first time in the village. Journal entries, pictures, and folk tales which have been passed down through generations in Moshny all show that he loved this place. He was impressed by majestic views of the Dnipro River, Moshnohory and ancient groves as well as local people, including beautiful women. Finally, we should mention that Moshny was a progressive place for the time, not much inferior to Cherkasy and in some aspects even outstripping it, featuring a gorgeous “English park,” Torricelli’s edifices, Vorontsov’s Palace with a unique library and a collection of paintings, and advanced European technology. Moshny was then not just a town with 15,000 inhabitants and civil parish center in Cherkasy county of Kyiv province, but also the first steamboat port in the Russian Empire.
It was to Moshny that a “police oak,” that is, one-trunk oak boat, brought Shevchenko after his arrest in Prokhorivka, opposite Kaniv.
Shevchenko spent his first night in Moshny on the civil parish office’s premises, but was then transferred to the bailiff’s house. By the way, the town’s owner at that time was Semyon Vorontsov’s widow Elzbieta, nee Branicka, a daughter of Ksawery Branicki, known for suppressing the Haidamak rebellion called Koliivshchyna, executing Ivan Honta by quartering and sentencing Maksym Zalizniak.
However, the genius’s remaining time in Moshny saw better conditions due to efforts by his friends, including his second cousin Varfolomii Shevchenko (manager of the nearby estate of Prince Lopukhin in Korsun), well-known philanthropist and entrepreneur Platon Symyrenko, and Oleksii Khropal. Symyrenko was compadre of Ivan Yahnytsky, the estate manager of Moshny, and Shevchenko’s friends immediately arrived to Yahnytsky’s house. Then Shevchenko could move freely across Moshny and choose his own accommodation. Thus, he spent the night of July 14-15, 1859 at the Nahanovskys’ inn, that is, in the house which has recently been transformed into a museum.
Overall, Shevchenko stayed in Moshny from July 13 through 18 and then from July 21 through 27, when the police brought him from Cherkasy to Moshny and prepared to transfer him to Kyiv.
Moshny has highly appreciated and preserved the memory of Shevchenko. No wonder, then, that starting in the early 20th century, the village hosted very popular feasts devoted to Shevchenko’s stay in Moshny. Various amateur groups, choirs, intellectuals and common people gathered at the house, now museum, to commemorate these events.
Actually, as director of Cherkasy Regional Local History Museum Alla Kushnir recalled, local historians and residents postulated the need to establish a Shevchenko museum long ago. Finally, their appeals reached the presidency, resulting in the 2012 decree establishing just such a museum. At the end of 2012, the authorities bought out heirs of the Marynkovskys, the family which had owned the house since the early 20th century. The museum is housed at the former Nahanovskys’ inn, where travelers rested on their way from Cherkasy to Kaniv or Kyiv, or vice versa.
According to Kushnir, the organizers aimed to restore the spirit of Shevchenko’s time, and it took them a good deal of archival work with historical sources.
The museum has quite a lot of ethnographic material, such as cookware, clothing, and embroideries. Thanks to local resident and local historian Serhii Hrechukha’s efforts, the museum has acquired a mid-19th century bed, probably once belonging to the Nahanovskys’ inn. It is likely that the Bard of Ukraine once slept on this iron bed with painted headboards, which needed some restoration lately.
“The museum’s most valuable exhibit is the house itself, which brings to us the memory and the spirit of Shevchenko. Our visitors note that the house has a kind of special, very positive aura,” the regional museum’s director stated.
In addition, it has a well-preserved authentic oven, which has also been restored. The house’s last mistress used the oven to bake Easter cakes into the later days of her ownership.
Another exhibit is the Marynkovskys’ antique sideboard, while the museum’s walls are decorated with Cherkasy artists Viktor Kriuchkov, Ivan Bondar, Neonila and Lev Nedoseks’ paintings devoted to Shevchenko’s stay in Moshny.
The exhibition also includes copies of Shevchenko’s drawings and diary entries. One of the drawings pictures a gorgeous tree in Moshny.