Saint-Petersburg Nabokov Museum news
#949, Friday, March 5, 2004
Reprieve for Nabokov Museum
By Irina Titova
St. Petersburg Arbitration Court on Monday postponed until April 12 issuing a ruling on a claim by City Hall's property committee, or KUGI, against the Nabokov Museum for 5 years of unpaid rent.
"The court gave us time to try to reach an out-of-court settlement with KUGI," Tatyana Ponomoryova, director of the museum, said Wednesday.
The world's only museum dedicated to Vladimir Nabokov, one of the 20th century's greatest writers, was taken to court by KUGI in January and told to pay rent arrears totaling $23,000 owed under an agreement signed by the museum's management in 1998.
The agreement determined the rent at $500 month for the 345-square meter area occupied by the museum on the ground floor of a building at 57 Bolshaya Morskaya, where Nabokov spent the first18 years of his life.
The museum has not been able to pay the rental from its own funds. Its only income is from ticket sales and small private donations.
"We hope that KUGI will consider restructuring the debt, let us pay it in installments, or at least halve the debt," Ponomaryova said. "Even then it will be hard for us."
No museum can operate purely from ticket sales, she said. Tickets to the Nabokov museum cost 20 rubles ($0.70). The museum gets from five to 100 visitors daily, depending on the season.
The best solution for the museum could be for the City Hall to grant
the museum the status of a state-run
"The museum was bound to have such problems organized the way it was," said Ponomaryova, who took over the museum in 2002.
Dmitry Nabokov, the writer's son who lives in the Switzerland helped the museum by sending items that had belonged to Vladimir Nabokov, some of which are displayed at the museum, she said.
As for a financial assistance, she said, Nabokov takes the position that the house belonged to the family and was taken from them illegally by the Soviets, so the government should look after the financing of the museum.
He agreed to transfer to the museum money he receives as payments for publishing rights, but Russian publishers consider copyright does not apply to Nabokov's works because they were written before 1973, she said.
Even if royalties were paid, they would not be large amounts, she added.
Before 1917 Nabokov's family occupied all three floors of the building, A dining room, hall and library were located on the ground floor, a living area for parents was on the first floor and children's rooms were on the third floor.
While the young writer lived there the house was frequently visited by famous figures, including singer Fyodor Chaliapin and Sergei Kusevitsky, a conductor and pianist who gave the future writer music lessons.
The first and second floors are currently occupied by Nevskoye Vremya newspaper, while the ground floor is frequently visited by those interested in exile Russian literature.
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