An Edgy Museum

The village of Cherny Otrog has been an agricultural community since its foundation.

Project geography

Village of Cherny Otrog, Orenburg region (south of the Ural Mountains). Located 80 km from the administrative centre of the region, the town of Orenburg, and 1,571 km from Moscow. Founded in 1827; population – 1,671 people.

Project Lead
Victoria Kandybina

Project lead

Project Description

The village of Cherny Otrog has been an agricultural community since its foundation. Farming defines the cultural identity of the place: its crafts, customs, traditions, and folk festivities. The first phase of the project, successfully implemented in 2017, was aimed at engaging the community with local history. It addressed the absence of a social and cultural centre in the village or its surrounding areas. The Memorial Museum of v. S. Chernomyrdin, a famous Russian politician who was born in the village, has taken up the role of a community hub. The museum has organized and fitted out a model-making studio for children, developed an extensive public learning programme, and launched a youth opportunity fund, which offers support to young people and connects them to the community. Village residents have taken an active part in the research and development of a temporary exhibition «The People of the Field: Children about Grandfathers», exploring personal stories of workers from the local farming cooperative «Kolos». This fantastic learning experience brought a new perspective on the village’s daily routines.

Objectives of the next phase

The implemented project has empowered a group of local residents to take an active role in the community and accept responsibility for improving their living environment. The aim of the next phase is to use this experience to develop tourism potential in the area, encourage a sense of ownership and pride in the community, and engage local residents to be equal partners in the project. There are plans for the community to develop tourist trails and tours around the village, to make improvements to the high street and main square, to arrange street displays exploring the history of the place and its people and to launch a course in project planning and management.

Cherny Otrog is a recognized centre in the region for the production of finely knit, down-hair lace for shawls. Increased tourism would mean additional income for local craftsmen. With the planned restoration of the historic market square, the village will have a dedicated space for the sale of handmade souvenirs and traditional crafts.

The project aims to build a robust network of partners, who can disseminate the experience to neighbouring territories. A competitive support scheme for social and cultural projects, initiated by local partners (community centres, village councils, clubs and residents’ associations, etc.) will be launched to encourage community self-organization and the emergence of NPOs, of which there are currently none. These will contribute to the long-term objective of turning the village into a tourist centre for the South Urals and improving quality of life in the area through community engagement, coordinated by the museum.


Project team

Project lead
Victoria Kandybina