AFRICAN DIARY. A CENTURY-LONG EXPEDITION
The project tells about the results of the expedition of N. S. Gumilev made in 1913. Two routes are intertwined in it.
For the first time, the project presents in detail (with photographs, objects and comments by modern scientists) the results of N. S. Gumilev's Abyssinian expedition made in 1913. Then it was passed by Nikolai Gumilev and Nikolai Sverchkov; the other one was passed by the staff of the MAE RAS in 2008, when they went on an Ethiopian expedition "in Gumilev's footsteps".
The main components of the project were: - an interactive map with four geographical points, around which subject and photo collections from the MAE RAS funds collected during two expeditions are grouped; - an article by the project supervisor Yu. K. Chistov summarizing most of the available data on the Gumilev's expedition; - multimedia materials: fragments of the African Diary and poems from the Marquee collection performed by St. Petersburg actor Alexei Nilov illustrated with video materials shot in 2008. The project was implemented in the year of the 135th anniversary of the birth and the 100th anniversary of the death of Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev. When talking about his short and bright life, three definitions are usually used: "poet", "traveller", "warrior". And for the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev is also one of the important collectors of museum collections, a man who discovered East Africa for Russian science at the beginning of the 20th century.
His large expedition to Abyssinia in 1913 was supported by the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (MAE). Nikolai Stepanovich carefully prepared for it; in Abyssinia he strictly followed the rules of field work, which were introduced to him by the outstanding ethnographer Lev Sternberg who was the MAE assistant director at that time. It was thanks to the "MAE school" that the poet and his expedition colleague, Nikolai Sverchkov, even in the most difficult conditions, managed to collect interesting ethnographic collections, make a series of photographs (250 glass negatives), record the folklore of local tribes. However, just like Gumilev's poetic legacy, his ethnographic studies remained "banned" for a long time and were poorly studied. In 2021, the MAE RAS restores justice and convincingly introduces another definition that characterizes Gumilev's life and work: "scientist-ethnographer".