Museum of Feodor Chaliapin was open on April 11, 1975 in his last flat in St Petersburg
Here, at Aptekarsky island, 2–B Permskaya street (now Graftio St.), the great singer lived from 1915 to 1922, when he left this country for good. The flat and property he had left in the care of his secretary and loyal friend I. Dvorishchin.
In 1927 the Communist government had accused the singer in supporting of the white émigrés, he was stripped of his title of People's Artist and authorities prohibited him the entry to the Soviet Russia. The flat became communal and the property was given to the new owners. Fortunately, Dvorishchin was able to store the most of the things in his rooms, former boudoir and sleeping room of Chaliapin. During the first months of the Second World War the dwellers of the flat, Dvorishchin's family among them, were evacuated while Isay Grigorievich decided to stay. In the winter of 1942 he had starved to death, yet he saved the great part of Chaliapin's belongings. After his death the personnel of the museum have taken the archive and some small items and the rest of property was sealed in the flat. After the war Dvorishchin's heirs gave to the museum the furniture, paintings and other things.
Later fate of the apartment was dramatic. It was a depressing spectacle, like most of Leningrad communal flats: blackened ceilings, deep burns in hardwood floor, dirty wallpaper lagging off the walls, endless row of individual electric meters.
In 1960 it was decided to turn the communal flat into the memorial apartment. Staff of the Museum of Theatre and Music was eager to start their work. The original interiors were restored. Chaliapin’s former housekeeper Polina Khvostova and her husband Nikolay, the cook, remembered in detail “how it was” and helped to arrange furniture, paintings and things properly. Collection of the museum grew quickly. Letters, photographs, paraphernalia, a number of paintings were acquired from children of Feodor Ivanovich and Leningrad theatres gave to the collection some costumes, show bills and furnishings from Chaliapin’s dressing–room. In 1975 the exhibition was ready for opening. Still, during the Soviet regime the name of Chaliapin was absent at the signboard of the memorial apartment, officially it was called «Department of Russian opera theatre». The museum received its current name only in times of perestroika thanks to Raisa Maximovna Gorbacheva.
In February of the 1998, the year of the 125th anniversary of F. Chaliapin, the museum has opened its doors to the wide audience once again after seven years of restoration and reconstruction. In the course of their work the specialists have restored the hallway, dining and sleeping rooms, big and small sitting–rooms; interior of Chaliapin’s dressing room in Mariinsky theatre was also re–created in his former apartment. Letters and photos, show bills and programmes, personal belongings and houseware, paintings and drawings, theatre costumes and set designs of Chaliapin's performances tell about the main events of life and career of the great singer. The museum also stores collection of weapons, which Maxim Gorky presented to Chaliapin.
Of particular interest are paintings of renowned artists A. Golovin, K. Korovin and A. Yakovlev depicting Chaliapin in ordinary life and on stage. Here one also can see the famous portrait by B. Kustodiev (1921). Chaliapin was fond of that work and took it with him abroad. His daughters Marfa and Marina had given the portrait to the Museum in 1968.