Rodens et Spatium
11th International Conference on Rodent Biology Rodens et Spatium
Myshkin (Russia) 2428 July 2008

Brief history of Myshkin


It happened that time when Russia existed as a number of large and small states (principalities) headed by Princes. The region was covered with dense forests. There is a legend that the Prince of Yukhotsk principality has lain dawn to have a rest on the high bank of the Volga after his successful hunt. He slept for a few hours but was awakened by a mouse scampering over his face. The prince was angry at first but at the moment he saw a snake slithering towards him. He realized that the mouse had saved his life. In honour of this event the town has received its name (The Little Mouse Town - Myshkin in Russian) and the picture on its coat-of-arms.

The hill on the bank of the Volga opposite the mouth of the Yukhot river was an ideal place for a mediaeval Russian settlement. The first chronicle references to Myshkin date back to 1238 when it was razed to the ground by Tartar Khan Batu. Later it was rebuilt as a large village. In 1551, the legendary fortress of Sviyazhsk was built not far from Myshkin. It played a key role in the defeat of the Khanate of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible.

The expansion of the Volga trading route promoted the development of settlements on it also. Myshkin benefited from being close to the Volga rapids that made it difficult for vessels to pass this spot. The enterprising Myshkiners mastered the art of navigation and earned their living by guiding ships over the rapids.

In 1777, due to Catherine the Great Myshkin has got a town status, a coat-of-arms and a regular street plan that has survived to this day for the most part. In the 19th century Myshkin developed most rapidly thanks to the increased trade in textiles and grain even outstripping its neighbour Uglich. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a great deal of cultural activities in Myshkin. In the 1920s, the town had a teacher training college, a drama theatre, a meteorological station, an art gallery, one of the first country's sports clubs and a local newspaper.

The town growth shifted into low gear mostly because of a fault of Myshkin merchants. They refused to build a railway through Myshkin undervaluing its significance for industry and trade development. When they realised their mistake and were ready to correct it the First World War began, then came Revolutions. In the 1940s, during the construction of the Rybinsk reservoir Myshkin lost a third of its territory when large areas were flooded. By that time it had been already deprived of town status and turned into the village Myshkino. A struggle of Myshkin citizens against the letter "o" at the end of their town's name is the next legendary page in Myshkin history. Thanks to their enthusiasm and allegiance to their town they won and turned Myshkin into a notable cultural and tourist centre of the region.

Museums of Myshkin

People's Ethnographic Museum
This unique museum founded by local enthusiasts is most impressive one. Nearly everybody in the town has helped to put together its collection. It's in fact a number of independent museums:
*Local History Museum
Icons, clocks, mirrors, chairs, crockery, wickerwork ...everything what surrounded private life of Myshkin people during two last centuries. There is also a real open-air museum of wooden architecture, or provincial peasant culture, as it might be called. Or you can go into a real smithy and for a small fee the blacksmith will forge you a souvenir from red-hot iron.
*Museum of Old Machinery
Collection of the museum consists of more than 40 old cars and agricultural machinery. Some of them are unique and roadworthiness.
*Mouse Museum
A nice little museum with more good humour than historic-cultural significance. Numerous figures of mice made of different material.
*Museum of Russian Vodka
The creator of Russian table wine No.21 (i.e., "Smirnovka", as it is affectionately called), Pyotr Smirnov was born in Myshkin and spent his childhood and youth here. In the Museum you will see old family photographs, labels, bottles and glasses of all shapes and sizes.

The Valenki Museum
The valenki (woolen felt high boots) is national Russian footwear for winter time. You will learn how to make such boots and see a lot of funny exhibits connected with the valenki. You can also buy here this health-giving natural footwear for you and your friends. We used such a boot for our LOGO.
Flax Museum
Linen was the main cloth in old Russia. This is the museum of linen production and use.
Mill Museum
Here you will learn how a flour was made in Myshkin in the 19th century and meet a fine miller and his visitors.
Picture Gallery
There are exhibitions of works by local artists and masters from Yaroslavl and Rybinsk in this museum.
Opochinin Library
A working library that issues books. It was founded in 1875 by Fyodor Opochinin, a member of the local nobility. Today it is housed in the fine three-storyed mansion of the Chistov merchant family (1830s). The mansion is also used for amateur dramatics and concerts of folk and classical music.
Artisan House
Here under the direction of a craftsman you can make a souvenir from red-hot iron, clay or glass yourself. Or just observe how they do it.

For detailed information see web-site: http://www.myshkin.ru