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The echoes of Underwood’s key buttons. St. Petersburg hosted the Iosif Brodsky’s “One and a half room” exhibition for one day


Residents of St. Petersburg spent hours in a cue to get into the museum. The line of people stretched from Liteinyi Prospekt to Korolenko Street. And the flow did not recede after dark. The museum was forced to extend working hours. Alexander Brius was also lucky to witness the exhibition.


She doesn’t speak a word of Russian. Iosif Brodsky’s youngest daughter speaks through an interpreter with those who ask her for a signature. Anna Alexandra Maria has come to Russia for the first time – to witness the opening of the museum to her father. She was impressed.

Anna Alexandra Maria Brodskaya, daughter of Iosif Brodsky: “I have managed to meet everyone who fulfilled this project. I have to say this is a special experience for a person who didn’t have the joy of talking to her father and knowing him. Now I’m here and I see the work that has been done. And how my much my father matters to these people”

The poet’s close friend – art expert Mikhail Milchik – used to be a frequent guest at the Brodsky’s. He remembers “one and a half rooms” in the slightest detail. In June 1972, straight after Brodsky emigrated, Milchik returned to the apartment at Liteinyi and made 30 photographs. These shots became the basis for the restoration work.

Mikhail Milchik, chairman of Iosif Brodsky Literature Museum Fund: “We all came back, sat down with the parents and told how we said goodbyes. When everyone left, I stayed and took detailed photos – wide shots and details of this room, which had a pre-leaving mess in it”

The furniture and belongings of Brodsky which had been left behind were taken to storage for the time of the renovation works. The walls of the communal apartment have fungus spores on the, which is detrimental to the items. It will be cleared in the fall, meanwhile the atmosphere is maintained through the photographs. The cloth – covering the poet’s parents room – contains shadows from the past – a heavy cupboard, an old TV set and a large low-standing lamp. And here’s the real rarity – two pianos in the middle.

Tatyana Pozdnyakova, head researcher of Anna Akhmatova Museum: “Behind that wall, at the neighbors, this instrument used to stand. The neighbors’ daughter used to play it – hardly enjoyable feat for one’s ears. This piano played here and Brodsky’s voice must sound here too”

Tapping on Underwood’s key buttons, he was never concerned put off by the music. He created a designated corner for himself from book shelves and cupboards – the most precious 10 square meters for the poet. Lines from his poems are written all over it.

Despite a lot of work which has been done, it is far from finished. It’s only renovated on the outside. Lack of money and legal issues hamper the process. Even the matter of entrance is not resolved yet – you have to enter through the inner yard. But this was not an obstacle for the visitors. 

Alexander Brius, reporter: “The line of those willing to get inside Brodsky’s apartment stretched from Korolenko Street to Liteinyi Prospekt. It takes a lot of waiting – only groups of 10-15 people are allowed inside, the room just cannot hold more. The opening of the museum has already been postponed several times and even the latest announced date – end of 2015 – could hardly be considered as the final one”