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Historical museums of Russia

In every Russian city there are historical museums, which are more often called "Local history museums". Museums in small towns are most often devoted to the history and nature of their region, however, in Moscow and St. Petersburg there are very interesting historical and ethnographic museums where you can get acquainted with the history of development and the peoples of all of Russia.

In this review on the Geomerid portal, you can get acquainted with the largest ethnographic and local history museums in Russia:

  1. Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg
  2. Kuntskamera in St. Petersburg
  3. Historical Museum in Moscow
  4. Novgorod Historical Museum
  5. Local History Museum in Rostov-on-Don
  6. Pogankiny chambers in Pskov
  7. Tomsk Museum of Local Lore
  8. Local History Museum of Krasnoyarsk
  9. National Museum in Kazan
  10. Local History Museum of Yekaterinburg
  11. Local History Museum of Samara
  12. Historical and Architectural Museum of Verkhoturye
  13. Provincial Museum in Tobolsk
  14. Historical Museum of Vladimir
  15. Omsk Museum of Local History

Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg

The Russian Ethnography Museum is near the Mikhailovsky Palace, or the Russian Museum, which is daily visited by hundreds of people coming there to look at its pictures.  The Russian Ethnography Museum was opened in 1895 as a part of the Russian Museum. But later the museums were separated and now it is one of the largest ethnography museums in Europe.

The main halls of the museum strike by their size. According to the architectural design, they had to correspond to the scale of the Russian Empire. Over 7000 m² were alloted for permanent exhibitions and expositions, and another 2000 square meters – for temporal expositions. The building of the Ethnography Museum is even bigger than that of the Russian Museum. The main part of the expositions is devoted to the Russian culture of 19-20 centuries and the peoples, which inhabited the country

Kuntskamera in St. Petersburg

Almost immediately after the foundation of Petersburg, in 1718, the tsar Peter the Great wanted to create a museum in the new capital. Thus, the Kunstkamera museum appeared, which became the first museum in Russia. Today it is called Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Peter the Great gave an order to either buy in Europe or create collections of «fishes, insects and reptiles in bottles». Even more actively there was created the «collection of monsters and monstrosities». For the most part, these were preserved in alcohol infants with various physical anomalies. The base of the collection was laid down in 1717, when Peter the Great bought for 30 thousand guldens two thousand anatomical exhibits of the collection of the anatomist Frederick Ruysch, which was known all over Europe.

Historical Museum in Moscow

The State Historical Museum of Moscow is on the northern side of the Red Square, opposite St. Basil`s Cathedral. It is the largest national museum of Russian history and culture, its exhibitions covering all periods in the history of Russia, from ancient times to 20 century. 

A great number of exhibits (over 4,5 million) was gathered in 39 halls of the museum. The halls are arranged in a chronological order. In the first halls you can see the artifacts brought from the diggings of the early man sites, which were conducted on the territory of Russia. Then you can have a look at the exhibits of the Bronze Age (dolmens, idols and cult objects) and the early period of the ancient Russian state. Separate halls are assigned for an interesting exposition of articles and decorations from gold and precious stones. 

Novgorod Historical Museum

The Novgorod Historical Museum was founded in 1865 and is one of the oldest museum centers in Russia. It includes nearly all museums and churches opened for visiting in Novgorod the Great and its environs. Its most interesting expositions are in the center of the Novgorod Kremlin, in the building of public offices.

Several museum rooms are devoted to artifacts found on the territory of the ancient Novgorod Republic, as well as the history of Novgorod the Great since the time of its foundation by prince Rurik. There are a lot of interesting exhibits at the museum: stones with petroglyphs carved by ancient people, birchbark manuscripts, stone crosses of the early Middle Ages, weapons, utensils and many other things. Some rooms of the museum are devoted to the exposition «Russian Icon» where you can see the works of Novgorod icon painters of 11-19 centuries. 

Local History Museum in Rostov-on-Don

The local history museum of Rostov-on-Don is on 79, Bolshaya Sadovaya St. The museum building is at the back of the yard beyond the arch with columns. The museum has very curious expositions on the history of Rostov land.

Now at the museum one can see the vast collections of artifacts discovered during the archaeological excavations in the Don steppes. There one can see weapons, earthenware, and household items from the gorodishches (sites of ancient settlements) of peoples that inhabited these lands in ancient times. In the exhibition «The Treasures of Don Steppes» you can see the golden articles, which belonged to the tsars and nobility of Hellenic, Scythian and Sarmatian periods of history. 

Pogankiny chambers in Pskov

Pogankin Chambers were built by Sergey Pogankin, a very rich and influential Pskov merchant, in 1670. This successful merchant controlled the mint and customs of Pskov. There are several legends about the origin of his surname. The most wide-spread legend related it to his active trade with foreigners, who were then called «pagans».

Several rooms are alloted for the collection of ancient icons of the Pskov school dating back to 14-17 century. It also houses an interesting collection of silverware, including that from the Pskov treasures, expositions of the local applied arts and crafts, a picture gallery and the exhibition «1100-year Pskov in the history of Russia». It will be interesting to have a look at the sword of the 13 century, which is called the «sword of the prince Dovmont». 

Tomsk Museum of Local history

Several permanent and temporary expositions of the Tomsk local history museum are on the two floors of the large mansion: «The Rush for Gold», «The Great Tea Route», «The storm of 1812», «The willed and unwilled Siberians», «Tomsk-Narym Golgotha». 

By the items of the permanent expositions one can trace the history of the Tomsk land starting from the Bronze Age. There one can see the archaeological findings from the ancient man sites in the Tomsk region, the ethnographic collections of the native peoples of Siberia, the collections of ancient manuscripts. As to the modern exhibits, one can see the collections of furniture, ceramics and many other things.

Local History Museum of Krasnoyarsk

The Krasnoyarsk local history museum is considered one of the oldest museums in Siberia. And indeed, approaching this building you understand that it stands out among the great number of local history museums you can find in nearly each city.

In the center of the museum you can see a huge model of a boat used by the Cossacks to explore the spaces of Siberia. The central area of the museum is surrounded by different rooms with various expositions: archaeology, palaeontology, religion and fine arts. All of them are interesting enough. There you can see the complete skeleton of mammoth, as well as the only Russian skeleton of stegosaurus.

National Museum in Kazan

The building of the National Museum of Tatarstan is opposite the Spasskaya (Savior) Tower of the Kazan Kremlin. The expositions related to the history, culture and everyday life of Tatarstan from the ancient times to our days are held at the museum. The museum was created on the initiative of the university professors at the end of the 19th century. 

Now the large collections of the national museum are on display in the building of the former Gostiny Dvor. The expositions of artifacts discovered during the diggings on the territory of Tatarstan are in the first halls of the museum. Further on are the expositions devoted to the Russian period in the history of Tatarstan. Among the other things, one can see the famous carriage of Empress Catherine II in those halls. 

Local History Museum of Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg Local History museum is on Malyshev street near the Iset river. The local history museum was founded in 1870, about the same time as the Ural Society of the Lovers of Natural History. Presently, the main museum expositions are located in the house of the Ural entrepreneur Alfonse Fomich Poklevsky-Kosell. But some theme expositions are in several other buildings.

ou must visit the permanent exposition called «Twentieth-century history of Russia in gifts.» It is a very large and most interesting collection of gifts given at different times to the leaders of Russia and the Soviet Union: Nicholas II, Stalin, Kalinin, Brezhnev and Gorbachev, as well as the Communist Party and the Soviet people as a whole.

Local History Museum of Samara

The Alabin Samara Local History Museum is one of the oldest museums in the Volga Region. It was founded in 1886 on initiative of the city head Pyotr Vladimirovich Alabin, who suggested to the City Duma to create the first regional museum devoted to various spheres of life of the Samara province.

The today museum building was constructed not far from the museum house of Lenin in 1989, as it was already impossible to store the vast museum collections in the former buildings. Now the collections on archaeology, paleontology and the other natural sciences are stored on the first floor. The museum has interesting collections of mineral resources extracted in the Samara region. Several museum rooms are devoted to the history of the Samara region from the Early Middle Ages to our days. 

Historical and Architectural Museum of Verkhoturye

The permanent exhibition of the State Historical and Architectural Museum of Verkhoturye where you can learn the history of the Ural Region is located in the building of the Sovereign Barns at the Verkhoturye Kremlin. The museum has two main exposition: «Verkhoturye. The history of the town and uyezd. 1598-1917» and «Babinov Road».The exposition «Babinov Road» is devoted to the history of the key trade route that connected the European part of Russia with Siberia, which made it possible to develop the whole country. 

The first museum rooms are devoted to the Mansi people and the ancient settlement Neromkar on a rock rising 26 meters above the Tura. It was just there that ostrog was built for a voivode and the Streltsy who guarded the trade route. The other museum rooms are devoted to the heyday of Verkhoturye at the beginning of 18 century, when the town rapidly developed at the expense of customs duties levied. 

Governor Museum in Tobolsk

The Tobolsk Governor Historical and Architectural Museum is located on the Red Square near Nikolsky Vzvoz St. (a steep descent) leading from the Alafeyevskaya Mountain to the Nizhny Posad) in the historical part of Tobolsk.

The museum was founded in 1870. It is the oldest museum in Siberia. The secretary of the provincial statistical committee I.Yushenkov who was also a well-known expert on the history and ethnography of Siberia took the lead in its foundation.
By 1890 the museum already had the provincial status and was headed by V. Troynitsky himself, the then governor of Tobolsk province. And in 1891 the museum was visited by the prince Nicholas on his way back from the journey round the world. He put his autograph on a mammoth plaque and took the museum under his personal protection. Today in the rooms of the museum one can see a lot of exhibits related to archaeology, ethnography and paleontology. 

Historical Museum of Vladimir

Vladimir history museum was created in 1854. The exhibits on the ground floor of the museum are devoted to the history of Vladimir region from pre-historic times to the end of 17 century. Of a particular value are the artifacts discovered during the diggings of the archaeological site at the Sungir River, on the eastern outskirts of Vladimir, in 1956. There were found over 70 thousand various artifacts dated back to about 30 thousand years ago. 

In the center of the hall you can see an authentic stone cross of 12 century, as well as a wooden element of the defensive ramparts of the same time. As a whole, most of the exhibits on the ground floor of the museum are related to 12-13 centuries in the history of the Grand Duchy of Vladimir. The expositions devoted to the history of Vladimir region from the Time of Troubles to 1917 are on the first floor of the museum. 

Omsk Museum of Local History

Omsk Museum of local history is one of the largest and oldest in Siberia. It was founded in 1878 by the West Siberian Department of the Russian Imperial geographical society. Here you can get acquainted with the culture and history of the Siberian region.

The exhibition "Archeology and nature of the Omsk and Irtysh river" presents exhibits of archaeological and paleontological expeditions. Then, in three halls, you can view the exhibition «Siberian City of tsar Petr I», which describes in detail the events of the Foundation and development of Omsk, as an important fortress in the Siberian region. In 1717, Omsk was founded by order of Tsar Peter I during the expedition of Ivan Buchholz.