Later the house was used for several different purposes. Before it reopened as a museum, it was also used as an apartment housing for up to thirty families.
In 1984, “Shamil House” was given to Literacy Museum of Gabdulla Tuqay. And two years later, right on time for poet’s 100th anniversary of birth, the museum reopened its doors.
There is no concrete proof that G. Tuqay had been to “Shamil House” in his lifetime. According to the historian Bulat Sultanbekov, in the mid 1890s Mohammedshahi’s son from first marriage Mohammedzahid was often seen visiting the family at this house. Intelligent and educated guy quickly gained the sympathy and love of young Tatar people. He was first to organize Muslim charitable society and start theater performances in the Tatar language. Its quite possible, that over the years, when “Shamil House” became a gathering spot for progressive Tatar youth, Tuqay could have been among them too.
The museum has four exhibit halls with installations about the life and work of Tuqay. Young Apush’s orphan childhood images come to life in the first hall. The second hall is dedicated to the future poet’s life in Uralsk. “Motygiya Madrassah”s teacher Kamil Tukhvatullin’s personal belongings and some books from the extensive library that belonged to Gaziza and Galiaskar Gosmanovs allows you to experience the environment where Tuqay was formed as a public persona. In the exhibition dedicated to the period his life in Kazan you can see performance programs of troupe “Sayyar”, invitation tickets, musical instruments from club “Shareq’and personal belongings of poet’s friends F. Amirkhan, G. Kulakhmetov, Kh. Yamashev.
The Museum has some personal belongings of the poet too. His pictures that were taken in 1908 and 1912, his tubetey made from black velvet fabric, the iron pencil container that he brought from St. Petersburg as a souvenir, an old travel basket, a ceramic box that he bought for his aunt Gaziza with his first paycheck, cuff links.
The mask that was designed after the poet’s death is very impressive. When you see it, you realize that before becoming a legend Tuqay was a real man, and behind that heroic pathos there were real actions too. But ode to Tuqay remains only in the words. The proof is the fact that his only literary museum isn’t reorganized and exhibits are not brought to higher modern standards. Kazan residents and quests of our capital would come visit this majestic, mysterious European style castle in the center of Kazan with more eagerness if we do our due diligence. We can add sculptures of characters from poet’s fairytales to the adjacent garden, bring it to life with fountains, a café and a small stage for performances, and organize interactive games – it would be a gathering spot for kids all summer long. Overall, we should preserve each path, each house in Old Tatar Sloboda that tells the story of Tuqay.
Translated by Gulgena McCall