Museum of Folk Life – House Museum of Semyon Lozhkar, Semyonov
Museum of Folk Life - House Museum of Semyon Lozhkar opened in conjunction with the Golden Khokhloma Factory and Museum in 2013. A small but creative initiative, it includes historic exhibits, guided tours and workshops which celebrate the family who is first credited with creating Russia’s famous hand carved wooden spoons.
House Museum of Semyon Lozhkar commemorates the Lozhkar family who is believed to have lived in the area from at least the 12th-16th centuries. Their talented creation of wooden spoons and other household items is purportedly the impetus for the unique Khokhloma craft which later developed in the region. This belief is supported by a commentary which was written in regard to the settlement of the region: “... Semyon Lozhkar lived in a spacious black hut ... with his wife Katerina and daughter Avdotka. The three of them managed to make maple and birch spoons ... which were so nice and dexterous ... and their fame spread through the forests, cities and villages of Semyov of the Volga Region.”
The secrets of the craft were passed from father to son for generations until production of spoons (now called “lozhka” in Russian) increased in the mid-17th century to an industrial level. In 1811, a spoon-making shop was opened, and by the end of the 19th century, around seven thousand people in the Semyonov vicinity were engaged in the carving and painting of up to 3 million spoons a year.
By the early 20th century, Semyonov had become the main manufacturer of wooden spoons, but its output began to decline after World War II. As wooden spoons were replaced by metal ones, the historic item evolved from a necessary household utensil into a souvenir. Today, the vision of the Lozhkar family to create beauty from the mundane has been preserved in the small museum which is named in their honor and dedicated to ordinary spoons made extraordinary.
Museum of Folk Life - House Museum of Semyon Lozhkar is situated in a large log cabin which resembles an 18th-century artisan’s dwelling and is decorated with traditional Nizhny Novgorod paintings. The courtyard contains a large collection of archaic household items, while a field with wooden characters from famous fairy tales and a linden alley planted by local celebrities brings a special atmosphere to the place. The main exhibit, of course, is the collection of 600 spoons in a variety of shapes, designs and colors. Once household items, the spoons are now regarded as valuable examples of historic national art. Guided tours provide insight into 18th-century family life and the use of now-obsolete items. Visitors are also treated to folk music and are given the opportunity to participate in wood carving and canvas weaving workshops as they experience everyday peasant life.