“Vepsian House”: a museum of Vepsian culture and way of life (“Vepsoiden Pert’ “)


(Private collection of V.A. Kiprushkin and V.V. Shvedov)

This unique museum compound is located in the village of Sarozero (Kipriyanovskaya), Podporozhsky district of Leningrad region, 33 kilometers away from the volost center which is the settlement of Vinnitsa, itself 330 kilometers away from Saint Petersburg. It is the only museum in Russia that completely and fully depicts the Oyat Vepsian culture and way of life within their natural living environment. Also it is the biggest and the most renowned museum in Podporozhsky district of Leningrad region, respected and appreciated by the local inhabitants and is famous for being the most exciting cultural site of Podporozshky district.


Located on the outskirts of one of the most distant and small villages of Leningrad region, the museum nevertheless finds itself in the middle of spiritual and cultural life of the region, assisting in preservation of the cultural heritage the local dwellers possess, forming and developing its national self-identity. It is relevant that the museum speaks about the life and the destiny of many locals, who perceive it very personally and in quite an exalted way, as if it were a family album. It already has a destiny in itself.


The museum collection is based on a private gathering of cultural and everyday items used by the Oyat Veps people in Podporozhsky district of Leningrad region.


The collection was actively formed in late 1980’s — early 2000’s by A.E. Finchenko, PhD in History, senior research fellow at the Department of Eastern Slavonic Studies and Ethnography of the peoples of European Russia of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of Russian Academy of Sciences. Initially, the museum was located in the village of Kuznetsi, later was moved to the village of Ladva and in 2014 it was finally settled in the village of Sarozero. Today the collection is replenished by owners’ donations and by means of gifts from the locals.


The museum collection is a full assortment of items used in traditional Oyat Vepsian culture of the second half of XVII — middle XX centuries: the entire decoration complex of a household and utility buildings, furniture, clothing, footwear, needlecraft, domestic utensils, household and professional tools, music instruments, items of religious and magic practice, as well as needlework, knitting, footwear, cooperage, carpentry, joinery, fishing, hunting, bathing and food item complexes. An important part of the collection comprises documents and photographic materials on history of the area and biographies of its inhabitants.


The local inhabitants and founders of the museum are proud that the museum collection features items that are unique in their cultural and historical significance and cannot be found even in collections of large ethnographic museums.


Among the latest significant acquisitions the most prominent one is the hunting and fishing item complex dating back to second half of XIX century, giving a picture of peculiarities in organization and conduction of various types of hunting and fishing activities of the local inhabitants.


The museum founders strived toward the goal of making the exposition recreate the indoor decoration of a residential household, the way of life an Oyat Veps family led, among with specific features of a farm homestead. The residential compound is accompanied by hunting and fishing winter quarters and two sheds located within the museum premises. Part of the exposition is found in the open air.


The visitors gain an impression of being guests in a residential household. It is a fully interactive exposition where you can sit behind a festive table prepared for a wedding celebration, try out garments to the sound of a phonograph, work a weaving loom, rock the cradles, hold the kitchen utensils and any other items.


The «Vepsian House» museum represents monuments of the traditional Vepsian culture within the original environment of their existence, forming a unified live complex with the surrounding nature and culture; it is perceived as an original part of the modern Vepsian culture.


The guests of the «Vepsian House» can see that which was lost and is leaving our lives permanently, but is still preserved in human memory and forgotten things, which means a deeper understanding and feeling of the beauty and history of Vepsian land and helps one discover the soul of its people.


The museum was set up and opened for public in 2008. Visits are organized only by prior arrangement.


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