The largest museum of Taras Shevchenko, outside of Ukraine, is located in the small town of Fort-Shevchenko, Mangyshlak, Kazakhstan. The city was named after the famous Ukrainian poet, who was exiled here in 1850-1857. Taras Shevchenko was sent to Mangyshlak after his arrest in Orenburg. The poet was forbidden to write and draw for seven years under the strict supervision. Despite the ban and the lack of paper, Taras created more than 200 works: sketches, drawings, drafts, in which he depicted landscapes, monuments, simple life of local people.
Great Kobzar became a teacher for many generations of Ukrainians and Kazakhs, and he is considered as the son of two people. He was the first, who offered to build a bridge of friendship between Kazakhstan and Ukraine by his poetry and painting.
Museum of Shevchenko is located at the summer residence of fortress' commandant Irakli Uskov. This building is 150 years old. The exiled poet worked in the park, which is located near the museum. Here are trees, which were planted by Taras Shevchenko. A monument of the great Shevchenko was installed here. Next to the monument of the poet is the dugout.
There is a well on one of the park paths, which was dug by Shevchenko. According to legend, in this place, Taras and his fellow soldiers reached fresh water on the seven-meter depth. There was a fierce drought at that time. The well saved the whole village from death. People call it "Shevchenko well".
The museum exposition is quite different from original design, all rooms start with milestones, and measured residence time of Taras Shevchenko in Mangystau.
The first hall is about the arrival, first years of the poet's life in Mangystau, and here presented his first works. On racks and stands presented copies of many documents, which relate to the passage of military service in Novopetrovsky fortress, among them - the disposal of the commandant Uskov, who vacated the "soldier Shevchenko" from drill, and put him to his summer residence for house work.
In another room are collected drawings of Karatau expedition, where Taras Shevchenko attended. During expedition, he created art, graphic series of works about the Karatau, which consists of 18 completed works and about 60 sketches, drawings, drafts of landscapes, buildings, monuments and other attractions, and everyday life, ethnography inhabitants of this area, the camp of the expedition and other experiences of the artist. He wrote how he was impressed by nature of the boundless steppes in his book: "nowhere to stop looking". One of the most striking works of that time was the picture "Fire in the desert". Great Kobzar wondered: what can burn on the bare ground?
The third hall presents layout of Novopetrovsk wall, where the exiled poet was a soldier. Historians have calculated that Taras stood as a guard 63 times for seven years. Most of the exhibits were collected very long. The museum staff went through the ruins of the fortress and found antiques, which were restored later.
The most famous painting in the museum is - "Kazakh Katya". Here it is called "Prayer for the Dead". Here what Nursulu Suin says, a curator of the museum:
- This woman was a servant in the family of the commandant Uskov. Taras often visited him in the garden. He painted female type of Kazakh women with Katya. But we decided to name it differently. It depicts a ritual that lives today. At sunset, you can go to the graves of ancestors, and to light a candle and talk about own aspirations. Taras Shevchenko memorized the woman as at that moment.
The last self-portrait of the great Kobzyr occupies the central part of the museum.
In 2012, the Museum of Taras Shevchenko celebrated its 80th anniversary. A large delegation of guests from Ukraine arrived to this celebration. Arrived guests noted that it is the only museum of Taras Shevchenko outside his homeland, where totally represented the memory of Ukrainian poet and artist.