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Ibrai Altynsarin Museum

Ibrahim Altynsarin museumIbrai (also Ibrahim or Ybiray) Altynsarin, who was born in 1841 in present-day Kostanai Region, was a Kazakh educator, whose varied accomplishments included the establishment of many Kazakh-Russian schools, the use of Western-style educational techniques, and the introduction of a Cyrillic alphabet for written Kazakh. The museum was established in 1991, to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. The museum building stands close to the site of one of the schools founded by Altynsarin, now occupied by a boarding school for gifted children bearing the name of the educator. A bust of the somewhat wild-haired Alytnsarin is nearby.

The ground floor of the domed pavilion offers displays on Altynsarin's life and work. They trace his life from early childhood with his grandfather, his father having died young, through schooling in Orenburg, to his work as an inspector of schools in the former Turgai Region. There is a model on display of the first Kazakh-Russian school he established, in the settlement of Turgai in 1864. Among the educational establishments he set up were the first schools for Kazakh girls. A bust of Altynsarin on display shows him holding up a book bearing the 42 letters of his Kazakh Cyrillic alphabet. Textbooks written by Altynsarin are also on display. The museum is rather light on personal items, but one of the only two photographs of the educator known to exist is an interesting item, which shows Altynsarin in front of his home. A yurt is pitched in the garden. Apparently he welcomed European guests in his home, Kazakh ones in the yurt, an arrangement, as with his career, which demonstrated his determination to take the positive from both the Russian and Kazakh worlds. He died in 1889, aged just 47.

Upstairs, the displays in the gallery are devoted to poetess Mariam Khakimzhanova, related to Ibray Altynsarin (she was a great-granddaughter of Altynsarin's grandfather, if that makes any sense). Her life spanned most of the 20th century. Her membership card of the Union of Writers of the USSR was signed off by Maksim Gorky. Her work included a poem in honour of Manshuk Mametova, a Kazakh woman posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for her wartime bravery. A photograph shows Khakimzhanova with Mametova's mother. Museum guides will play a recording of Khakimzhanova reciting her Kazakh- language poetry. Objects on display include a briefcase, given to Khakimzhanova by Nazarbaev. A book she was reading is eerily left open at the page she had reached on her death in 1995.