The most visited museums in Russia are located in two capitals: Moscow and St. Petersburg. This review on the Geomerid online guide lists historical museums and art galleries. Palaces and manors were not included in this review. Two museums are dedicated to the events of the World War II.

TOP 10 Museums in Russia:

1.    The Hermitage (Saint Petersburg)
2.    Armory Chamber (Moscow)
3.    Kunstkamera (St.Petersburg)
4.    Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow)
5.    Russian Museum (Saint Petersburg)
6.    Pushkin Museum (Moscow)
7.    New Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow)
8.    Historical Museum (Moscow)
9.    Museum of the World Ocean (Kaliningrad)
10.    Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad (Volgograd)

Click on the hyperlinks to read in detail about each museum and see a large number of photos

1.    Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg

For several centuries the Winter Palace was the main grand residence of Russian emperors, and now it is the largest museum in Russia and one of the largest and best museums in the world. Later there appeared the second name - Hermitage (from the French word ‘ermitage’ meaning ‘retreat’), which was originally given to several secluded chambers of Catherine II. 

The Hermitage, as museum, was founded in 1764, when Catherine II purchased a collection of 225 canvases from the merchant Gotskovskiy in Berlin. The art collections are exhibited at the residence of Russian emperors, therefore it will be interesting to visit the Hermitage not only because of its pictures or sculptures.

2.    Armory Chamber in Moscow

The Kremlin Armory is one of the most famous museums in Russia. The first museum in Russia is the Kuntskamera. It was founded in St. Petersburg by Tsar Peter I in 1714. However, in terms of the value of the collection and the historical importance of the exhibits, the Armory Chamber in the Moscow Kremlin has no equal. 

The Armory contains valuables that for several centuries belonged to the Russian tsars. These are state regalia, coronation robes, carriages, armor, and much more. Previously, they were kept in the Royal Treasury and were not available to the public. The collection is based on the works of the masters of the Moscow Armory Order, as well as gifts from foreign rulers, which were presented to the Russian tsars. 

3.    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 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.

4.    Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow

The Tretyakov Gallery has very narrow specialization – there kept a huge collection of Russian painting from the first portraitists of the beginning of XVIII century to the painters of the Soviet period.

It was called after the merchant Paul Tretyakov who gave to Moscow his collection of Russian painting in 1892. At the gallery one can see both small pictures and portraits and vast canvases of the famous Russian painters: Surikov, Repin, Brulov, Aivazovsky, Ivanov, Vasnetsov, Shishkin, Vereshchagin and many others.

5.    Russian Museum in St. Petersburg

The largest museum of Russian art was opened in St. Petersburg in 1896 and called «Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III». The main exposition of Russian Museum is located at the building of Mikhailovsky Palace, which was built by the great Russian architect Charles Rossi in 1819-1825.

In spite of the world big fame of the Tretyakov Gallery, as the storage of Russian painting, by the value of its collection Russian Museum is equivalent to and even surpass it. There`s kept the significant part of the most famous pictures of Repin, Perov, Aivazovsky, Brulov, Vasnetsov, Serov, Surikov, and Levitan. 

6.    Pushkin Museum in Moscow

The formal name of the museum is the State Pushkin Art Museum, but it is commonly called just the Pushkin Museum. It is located in the center of Moscow near the Temple of Christ the Savior. The museum has one of the largest Russian collections of world art.

Of special interest can be collection of French impressionists: Renoir, C. Monet, Degas, Cezanne, as well as post-impressionists: Van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse. Besides seeing these pictures one should visit the halls where the Priam Treasure is exhibited, which was discovered by Henry Schliemann during the diggings on the site ancient Troy 

7.    New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow

The New Tretyakov Gallery is located in a spacious building located in Muzeon Park, on the embankment of the Moscow River. The building was built in 1983 in the style of Soviet constructivism by architects Nikolai Sukoyan and Yuri Sheverdyaev. The park area around the art gallery is of great interest. 

In the New Tretyakov Gallery, you can see the art collections of modern art dating back to the period of the 20th and 21st centuries. The gallery building will be closed for a complete renovation from 2023 to 2028. During this period, her collections can be viewed in Kommunarka. 

8.    Historical Museum in Moscow

The State Historical Museum is located 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. 

9.    Museum of the World Ocean in Kaliningrad

World Ocean Museum in Kaliningrad was opened in 1990 but its collections were significantly increased in recent years. The museum is located on the bank of the Pregel river, near Kant Island, and is the most interesting museum in the city.

Three ships and a submarine are moored at the embankment, and on the bank of the Pregel river there several museum buildings where one can see collections related with oceanography, as well as expositions devoted to the history of Königsberg. The museum «Marine Königsberg-Kaliningrad» is located In the building of a port warehouse (packhouse). Opposite it a giant vessel Cosmonaut Patsaev with plate-antenna is moored. It is one of the vessels ensuring the communication with spacecraft. 

10.    Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad in Volgograd

After the liberation of Stalingrad there remained no intact building in the city, however, the restoration began almost immediately. And only Gergardt`s Mill was left unchanged, as a remembrance of that battle, and it was there that the State Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad was created. Every guest of the city should visit this museum.

The Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad, with the panorama of the battle and street exhibits, is very big, but the first thing to see is the ruins of Gergardt`s Mill. The Mill, which is close to the Volga embankment, and Pavlov`s House located 500 meters away, became the most important centers of Stalingrad defense. Of greater strategic value was only Mamayev Kurgan. Here are eight exposition halls at the museum properly. The first halls house the maps of all stages of the Battle of Stalingrad.