RECONSTRUCTION OF HISTORICAL LOOK
All Russians know, what croissant, ciabatta and pizza are, but sifted-flour bread, bread rolls and festive bread are already unfamiliar to us. However, all of those are parts of Russian traditional cuisine. Thus, living in big cities, we see skyscrapers, business centres and loft-style flats, but Russian national architecture is completely forgotten. Having said that, wooden cultural heritage is being demolished by fire and excavators.
Natalia Nikitina, CEO of Museum-City Centre in Kolomna and project manager Kolomenskaya Pastila museum has been reconstructing Kolomna’s historical look for 9 years already. Two friends of hers, an art restorer and an economist, help her. Natalia herself is a cultural scientist and art expert. Three of them have been exploring the limits of the city to find names and labels to develop the project. United by a common goal, they have become a really successful team.
Since 2009, they have opened 4 museums and launched 3 minor enterprises. Thus, new working places were created and quality of local life was improved. Kolomna’s pastille was also popularised. According to Natalia Nikitina, “Chocolate is common in many countries, but white foamy pastille is exclusively from Kolomna, so we can call it the real Russian national product”.
Natalia rents a building of a city to reconstruct it. The architectural monument is often at the 4th degree of destruction. Natalia said, that not a single person would work with such ruins. However, they do. With the help of outside investments and their own funds, they begin the reconstruction.
Nowadays people prefer old buildings to the comfortable modern ones, as, for example, plastic windows are noiseproof. However, quality wooden windows are healthier and even more noiseproof. Natalia Nikitina assured that such myth appeared in Soviet times, when there were no good machine tools and the production was quantitative, not qualitative.
However, plastic windows make all houses look similar. The city’s historical look makes it different. Natalia is sure: “If we learn to appreciate our cultural identity, we will get a kind of creative economy. The point is, that window surrounds have to be developed. That way, the art industries will rise and work for their territories”.
Museum-City is now renting a 1735 tavern in Kolomna. It is the oldest building in the Kolomna trading quarter. It is now in critical condition, but its reconstruction will give birth to several projects. As it is a tavern, it will brew old-fashioned cider. Cider production needs apples, so the garden will be set up on tavern’s territory. The specialists will design historically true recipes.
Natalia’s team is planning to open a special club in Kolomna where grown-ups will communicate the crafts to children. Natalia Nikitina said: “What is non-material heritage? That is knowledge and skills, scents and flavours, the way of speaking, cultural living, national dances, everything that cannot be put in a museum”.
Citizens of Kolomna are now proud of the place they live in, thanks to the work done. Kolomna is already internationally famous. That is one more example stating that Moscow and St. Petersburg are not the only cities of Russia.
For those who will want to reconstruct their own city, Natalia recommends the following. Firstly, get to know everything about the town or find the specialist, as independent action here is unacceptable. Secondly, love your city and search for associates. Nothing is impossible.
Agata Korovina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Boykov