The Museum of merchant life in the village of Epifan
The interior of the house is typical of a provincial townhouse at the turn of the 19th/20th century. The drawing room features a divan for guests and a gramophone. In the basement is a cellar where provisions were stored for the winter. Nowadays the granaries stock goods made from the museum orchard: sweet-smelling jams, cucumbers in brine, medicinal herbs for making tea. You can have a taste of all of this at one of our special merchant lunches here at the museum.
An important part of your visit is the merchant’s shop, where the lavish range of goods is something to behold. This is a place where negotiation was the name of the game; our experienced guide will tell you all the tricks that wily Russian merchants got up to and how our forebears conducted their trade – whether measuring out lengths of calico or acquiring a pound of raisins or a new door latch and hooks. The museum’s souvenir shop is also located here.
The Museum at Epifan has a private area: a bedroom with a huge bed, a pile of cushions and the owner’s office.
Our tour of the museum is called “At home with Baibakov the merchant.” We’ll show you around the house, although tradition demands that we keep some of its secrets to ourselves. Visitors are often interested in the office; this was a special place, a little world where strangers were not welcome. This is where Baibakov did all of his accounting, keeping his papers and securities in a hidden recess. It is also where he whiled away the evenings playing chess. Baibakov was interested in photography: an ancient camera and some old photographs of Epifan and its inhabitants create the atmosphere of days gone by.
The philistine living room
In the living room of the apartment house of the middle-class Baibakovs, the life of Epiphans of middle-income at the beginning of the 20th century is represented. The combination of traditional foundations and newfangled trends is reflected in the decoration of the living room. Old furniture and dishes, guitar and gramophone, watches and credentials - all merged into one, without any attention to the style. Such was the world of material and spiritual needs of the Russian philistine of that time - a figure that became common in national history and literature.
The merchant's office
The office often combined the function of a bedroom for a long time staying behind business or reading fresh owner's newspapers. By the end of the 19th century a new formation of merchants arose - educated and intelligent entrepreneurs, often enthusiastic about art, collecting old books, icons, paintings, many engaged in charity.
AE Baibakov, being a merchant of the 2 nd guild, kept a petty shop. His room gives an idea not only about the traditional situation of the merchant's office and the working days of the owner, but also tells about his hobbies and preferences. Here, a desk and an armchair, a secret box and a portable safe, writing supplies and a merchant's seal, as well as a sofa and a red corner, a camera and checkers, books and newspapers found their place.
The female half shows the corner of the cozy family life of the Epiphans in the early 20th century. Traditional icons with a towel in a red corner, a bed with a hill of pillows, characteristic for the sleeping rooms of households of any age, organically combined with the "children's world" - toys, textbooks, children's things.
Kitchen - a special room in the house, served for cooking. It was always separated by a corridor, so that the children from the stove did not spoil the air in the living rooms.
In the kitchen equipment there is nothing superfluous. Near the oven - simple wooden furniture - tables, benches, stools. On open shelves - kitchen utensils, a variety of dishes.
In the kitchen there is a traditional tea-drinking during the interactive session "To visit the merchant Baibakov". Its participants will learn about the traditions of merchant tea drinking, Tula gingerbread and samovars, table greetings.
The exposition of the merchant shop reveals the role of trade, its features and significance for the regional cities of Central Russia. Eclectic assortment of goods is a reflection of the material and spiritual needs of the inhabitants of a small town in the late XIX - early XX century. Hardware, food, dishes, souvenirs, haberdashery, harness and much more - all merged in the bright, festive world of the shop of that era. In addition to the product range, the exposition acquaints us with the monetary units of that time, with commodity prices, with measuring devices, and also discloses trade relations between cities.
The basement of a merchant's shop (an exhibition of tare, weights and measures)
The basement of the shop of merchants of Baibakovs is an exhibition of tare, measures and weights of the late XIX - early XX century. The exhibition introduces a variety of storage tanks for liquid, solid and bulk products, as well as storage and canning methods. Weight measurement systems, different types of weights (changeless, rocker scales and others) reveal an interesting and little-known page of Russian material culture.