The museum has been established at School No. 135 of Kyiv as a private initiative of its teachers, students, and their parents. This is the capital’s first museum project associated with the name of one of the most popular writers of the last century. Paustovsky, “Muscovite by birth but Kyivite at heart,” lived in Ukraine for more than 20 years all in all. It was here that he developed as a journalist and writer, and he repeatedly acknowledged it in his autobiographical prose. For instance, he wrote in the preface to the Ukrainian edition of his novel Golden Rose in 1957: “Books of nearly every writer reflect, through a thin sunny haze, the image of their native land with its boundless sky and calm fields, its thoughtful forests and language of the people. I have been generally lucky with it, as I grew up in Ukraine. Its lyricism created many facets of my prose. I have kept the image at my heart for many years.”
Journalist Valerii Druzhbynsky who was Paustovsky’s literary secretary in 1965-68 wrote in his memoirs Paustovsky as I Remember Him: “It sounds strange, but he managed to survive the time when everyone was madly praising Stalin and never write a single word about ‘the greatest leader of all times and nations.’ He managed to go about without ever joining the party, or signing any defamatory letter or appeal. He did everything to keep true to himself and succeeded.”
“We started working on the creation of the museum in 2012, the writer’s 120th anniversary,” said Olena Artamonova, the administrator of the museum. “The exhibition displays documents and materials on Paustovsky’s works and life. It occupies a school room furnished with museum stands and memorabilia from Paustovsky’s Kyiv period. Admission is free by prior arrangement with the school’s administration. The museum’s temporary website is www.paustkiev.io.ua.”
In the future, the museum will supplement its activities by holding tours of Kyiv, where Paustovsky lived since age six and studied at the 1st Kyiv Classical Gymnasium (also known as Emperor Alexander Gymnasium) and St. Vladimir University. His life and first literary experiences involved a lot of Kyiv streets: Tarasa Shevchenka Boulevard, Luteranska, Stritenska, Bohdana Khmelnytskoho, Ivana Franka, and Bahhovutivska.
Paustovsky’s Ukraine connections go beyond his own life into his family history, starting with his great-grandfather who lived on the river Ros near Bila Tserkva. Moreover, his paternal ancestors were related to the hetman of Zaporizhia Petro Sahaidachny. The writer’s family members were buried in Ukraine, with his father’s tomb in Horodyshche village of Bila Tserkva district, and his mother and sister’s in Kyiv’s Baikove Cemetery.
Modern Ukraine established Odesa Paustovsky Memorial Museum (a branch of Odesa Literary Museum) and Paustovsky House Museum in Stary Krym.
Kyiv museum of the writer is located at School No. 135 at 12b Kotsiubynskoho Street. Its building, now registered as a historical monument, housed the 2nd Kyiv Realschule, replaced by the 7th Kyiv Gymnasium in 1909. Its students included future celebrities, such as sculptors Alexander Archipenko and Ivan Kavaleridze, pianist Vladimir Horowitz, researcher Volodymyr Symyrenko, cartoonist Boris Yefimov, and composer Lev Revutsky.
The museum’s opening ceremony attendees included journalist Valerii Druzhbynsky, great-niece of the writer Liubov Chyrak, great-grandson of mathematics teacher at the 1st Kyiv Classical Gymnasium, where Paustovsky studied, Yurii Ivanov, and representatives of the Austrian Embassy in Ukraine (the embassy’s current home, located next to the school, once housed the author’s family).