To Tula – without samovar, but for gingerbread

There is a 500-year-old Kremlin, a huge museum of weapons in the shape of a helmet, and a machine tool museum at a factory converted into an art cluster. Oktava and Machine Tool Museum in the material "Vedomosti"

Oktava Art Cluster and Machine Tool Museum

Another museum for those who like to understand how everything works is located in the creative industrial cluster Oktava. The Oktava music equipment manufacturing plant was taken over by Rostec Corporation in 2017. The vacant and no longer needed for modern production premises of the plant decided to turn into a creative cluster – for the youth of the city and all comers. Mikhail Shelkov, the majority shareholder of VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation, the world’s largest titanium producer, became a private investor in the project.

When you enter the territory of the plant, you see young people: some are skateboarding, some are discussing the exhibition or going to a master class. In Oktava young “connoisseurs” play “What, Where, When?”, and budding artists mold from sculptural plasticine. Tula directors and actors hold classes on speech technique and teach stage fencing, the English conversation club welcomes adults to discuss soft skills and ethical behavior in work chats, and film lovers study world masterpieces in the film club. Some of the classes are paid, but most are for a voluntary fee. You can rent a recording studio to record your own song or podcast. All the microphones still produced by the Oktava factory are represented there. Different models were used by Vladimir Vysotsky and the British band Radiohead to record their songs. And in the miniature microphone “Oktava” DEMSH, built into a spacesuit, Yuri Gagarin said his historic “Let’s go!”

Going up to the second floor of the building, you find the very heart of the former factory – the Machine Tool Museum. The employee of the museum turns off the light and informs you that the excursion here is conducted by virtual guides: Masha Robotova and her assistant, a round robot Snowbird. And indeed, computer pictures appear on the transparent screen: Masha Robotova shows schemes, photos, tells about the history of Tula, its factories and masters, starting with the fairy-tale hero Levsha, who forged a flea, and ending with modern engineers, and the silent Snowfinch just jumps on the pictures and adds interactivity. Real machines can also be seen, moving from screen to screen behind the guide: they are spectacularly illuminated in the dark with different colors.

There is also a more “grown-up” excursion – “History of Industry”, where the main milestones of industrialization of the world and Russia are told by the voices of famous actors – Sergei Chonishvili and Veniamin Smekhov. And Alisa Grebenshchikova, Alexander Baluev and Irina Pegova read out fragments from the diaries of workers, engineers and writers.

According to Oktava Cluster CEO Dmitry Barsenkov, the Machine Tool Museum was visited by one and a half times more people last year than the year before: 50,000 people in 2022 compared to 31,000 in 2021.

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