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 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.
The Kunstkamera was and is an integral part of the Academy of Sciences, which building was erected on the nearby Vasilievsky Island in 1724. Even before the building was finished there were moved the library and the large Gottorf Globe from the Kikin Hall. It is believed, and not without reason, that the Kunstkamera houses one of the richest collections on the human history, as well as traditional cultures of the world. Besides, it is one of oldest ethnography in the world.
But surely, the Kunstkamera became famous not for its ethnography expositions. Almost everyone when mentioning «Kunstkamera» begin to recall the items from the room of the «early natural-science collections of Peter I», which the tsar Peter I began to collect during his first travels to Europe with the Grand Embassy of 1697 when he saw the oversea «rooms of oddities and curiosities».
On his return Peter the Great gave an order to either buy in Europe or create collections of «fishes, insects and reptiles in bottles». And in early 1716 Peter the Great even spent 15 000 guldens to buy for the museum a collection of the specimen of various exotic animals, fishes, reptiles and insects showing the variety of the fauna of the Earth from a Dutch pharmacist and collector Albertus Seba.
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.
At the room of the early natural-science collections you can also see the items, which are related to the hobbies of Peter the Great. For example, the tsar was fond of extracting bad (as well as good) teeth and the room you can see the tools and the collection of teeth extracted by Peter the Great.
There you can also see the skeletons of dwarves and child`s skeleton with two heads, as well as the famous skeleton of the giant Bourgeois. His height was 2.27 meters, and for a long time he was the man-servant of the emperor. After his death his skeleton was placed among the exhibits of the Kunstkamera.