Museum of Architecture and Ethnography

An amazing relic of bygone generations can be found in the village of Semenkovo located not far from the Vologda City (12 km off Vologda) on the right bank of the Vologda River. Vologda' s wooden architecture represents an entire epoch in the cultural history of the region. Here, with so many stretching forests, wood served as a natural means to put up dwellings, make furniture, household utensils and children's toys, and heat houses. No wonder that in the skillful hands of the craftsmen it would often be transmuted into a work of art conforming to the time-hallowed traditions and designs that only wood can suggest.

In 1992-1993 the wooden ensemble has become a base for the establishing of a museum of architecture and ethnography. The organizers of the open-air museum intended to reconstitute an image of a northern village dating back to the late 19th - early 20th centuries. Now the famous museum boasts the most notable specimens of wooden architecture from all over the region - from the districts of Tot'ma, Nyuksenitsa and Tarnoga. It consits of a number of peasant houses initially put up in the above-mentioned regions.

The museum takes an area of 12.7 hectares. Currently more than 20 exhibit constructions can be found there: a mansion, 12 houses, 6 barns, an ice storage room, a bath-house and chapel (modern replica). All of them were built in the second half of the 19th-early 20th century on the territory of the Vologda Oblast.

One of the most interesting specimens is a peasant house that belonged to the Bolotov family (the district of Nyuksenitsa). The House of the Bolotovs (early 20th century), rich in ornament with embossed sculptures can be found in the centre of the village. It is notable for small windows and doors that kept the house warm in severe Russian winters. The balcony is adorned with intricate carved patterns. The decor of the posts and the interior of the house feature an original element - wooden heads of horses. The interior of the peasant house with an authentic Russian stove, an icon - case, wooden benches and household utensils reconstruct the life-style of a peasant family. Near the house there is a barn for storing up corns and cereals. One could judge a man's well-being by the storage in his bins.

The exhibitions dedicated to different kinds of peasant work are presented here: "Main and secondary peasant activities", "Flax processing" and "Carpenter and woodman crafts".

Another point of interest historically is Kochkin's house brought from the district of Tarnoga. It was heated by a stove without a chimney and a splinter lit up the house. One of the monuments of folk wooden architecture houses an exposition devoted to the Russian wedding, its traditions and customs. There is also a hunter's house displaying a man's trophies, a whole gallery of stuffed beasts and birds, fishing and hunting gear. A weaver's house with a loom and specimens of weaving tells the story of the development of weaving in our region, paying particular attention to people's way of life in the preceding generations.

In 2008-2009 new expositions were opened in the museum - "Tree of life", "Felt boot museum" and "Museum of butter".

The complex "Vologda Fair" with fairground and shopping stalls, swings and carrousel is also a part of the museum. It is a venue for ethno and folklore fairs, festivals and stage shows.

The Museum of Architecture and Ethnography is also a venue for master-classes on traditional handicrafts (hand weaving, clay modelling, carving, painting, birch bark handicrafts).

A large number of tourists flock to Semenkovo to admire the splendid artistry of the craftsmen who built this wonder in wood.

Contact information:

Phone: (8172) 75-80-53, (8172) 52-54-51

E-mail: admin@semenkovo.ru

Internet: www.semenkovo.ru

Days-off: Monday, Tuesday