The exhibition dedicated to 150birth anniversary of a revolutionary, a politician and a diplomat opened at the museum.
Photographs and letters, posters and brochures, newspaper articles and documents tell us about her participation in the revolutionary movement, her contribute to “women`s issue”, state and diplomatic work. To dive deep in the worries of heroine, will help diary notes, excerpts from my memoirs, personal correspondence. The exhibition will also feature items from Kollontai's closet, gifted to the museum in the 1960s by her grandson, Vladimir Mikhailovich Kollontai.
Opening the exhibition, deputy director of the State Museum of Political History of Russia Elena Lysenko said that Alexandra Kollontai is a figure best understood by studying her writings: “In the quotes that have been chosen for the exhibition one can feel the romance of the moment, the unique literary style of this woman. There are many letters and diary entries involved in the exhibition. The museum has repeatedly referred to the personality of Kollontai, but such a large-scale project dedicated to her has been prepared for the first time”.
Irina Yukina, a historian of the women's movement and a candidate of sociological sciences recalled that for Soviet scholars Kollontai was known as a revolutionary and the first woman diplomat. For her foreign colleagues she was primarily a Marxist feminist theorist: “Kollontai's duality with regard to the “women's issue” was expressed in the fact that, from one hand, as a Marxist she actively opposed “bourgeois feminism” and advocated a women's movement led by the proletariat. On the other hand, she shared the ideas of “equal rights” about the necessity of freedom for women in their self-realization, education and private life”. As People's Commissar for Social Welfare in the first Soviet government, Kollontai did much to improve the status of women. The abolition of church marriage and its replacement by civil marriage, the right to divorce, to abortion, to have a child out of wedlock - all this has become possible with an active participation of Kollontai.
By birth, Kollontai belonged to the upper classes, but she rejected the prosperous life, tying her fate to the revolutionary movement. Recognition among Russian and European social democracy had brought to Kollontai by her works on the position of women in society, protection of motherhood, love and marriage. From 1905, Kollontai joined the Mensheviks, but after the outbreak of World War I, the only revolutionary force in her eyes remained Bolshevism. A talented agitator, she became a valuable ally of Lenin, but she had never been recognized as a “true” Bolshevik.
After the October coup, Kollontai became the first female member of the government in history. In the early 1920s, her attempts to change the course of the party leadership under the banner of “the workers’ opposition” led to disgrace. Kollontai's new passion was diplomatic activity. She worked in Norway, Mexico, and Sweden. Her talent even had been recognized by the USSR’s enemies. Kollontai played an important role in the conclusion of peace between the USSR and Finland.
Underlining her loyalty to Stalin and defending his policies in the international arena, Kollontai retained the ability to think critically about what was happening in the USSR. The repression of 1937-1938 and the deaths of her relatives and comrades in revolutionary work were the hardest blow to her. However, Kollontai continued to believe that despite all the difficulties and mistakes, her dreams about justice society would have been implemented in the USSR.
The exhibition will run until the end of June 2022.