The Varlam Shalamov Museum is located in the very center of the city near St. Sophia Cathedral and Vologda Kremlin Park. On the ground floor there are collections of the Varlam Shalamov Memorial Museum, it is also called the Shalamovsky House. On the second floor there is a collection of Vologda Art Gallery. Here you can see Russian and Western European paintings.
The stone two-storey mansion near St. Sophia Cathedral was built in 1844. It belonged to the Vologda diocese and the priests who served in the cathedral lived in it. The exposition of the Varlam Shalamov Museum is dedicated to one of the most controversial stages in the history of Russia – the reign of Joseph Stalin.
The famous Soviet writer Varlam Shalamov was born in 1907 in this house, in the family of a priest. He lived here until his departure to Moscow in 1924. Varlam Shalamov was close to Trotsky`s ideas in his political views. As Stalin`s power strengthened, all Trotsky`s followers became his most ardent enemies. Varlam Shalamov also became such.
The first time Varlam Shalamov was arrested for Trotskyism in 1929. He served exile for three years in the Vishersky camp near Perm. After being released from prison, he returned to Moscow, continued to write poetry and prose. However, in 1937, the era of the most extensive Stalinist repressions began. You can learn more about these events at the Gulag History Museum in Moscow. Shalamov was re-arrested in 1937, and after that he spent 16 years in the camps on Kolyma.
Shalamov was released in 1951, two years before Stalin`s death. He returned to Moscow, wrote various poems, prose and at the same time worked on his most important work: "Kolyma Stories". In those years there was no chance of their publication. Varlam Shalamov died in 1982, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kolyma Stories were published and brought Varlam Shalamov worldwide fame.