State Historical Museum

Moscow, Russia

The State Historical Museum is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of prehistoric tribes that lived on the territory of present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty. The total number of objects in the museum's collection comes to millions.

The place where the museum now stands was formerly occupied by the Principal Medicine Store, built by order of Peter the Great in the Moscow baroque style. Several rooms in that building housed royal collections of antiquities. Other rooms were occupied by the Moscow University, founded by Mikhail Lomonosov in 1755.

The museum was founded in 1872 by Ivan Zabelin, Aleksey Uvarov and several other Slavophiles interested in promoting Russian history and national self-awareness. The board of trustees, composed of Sergey Solovyov, Vasily Klyuchevsky, Uvarov and other leading historians, presided over the construction of the museum building. After a prolonged competition the project was handed over to Vladimir Osipovich Shervud (or Sherwood, 1833–97).

The present structure was built based on Sherwood's neo-Russian design between 1875 and 1881. The first 11 exhibit halls officially opened in 1883 during a visit from the Tsar and his wife. Then in 1894 Tsar Alexander III became the honorary president of the museum and the following year, 1895, the museum was renamed the Tsar Alexander III Imperial Russian History Museum. Its interiors were intricately decorated in the Russian Revival style by such artists as Viktor Vasnetsov, Henrik Semiradsky, and Ivan Aivazovsky. During the Soviet period the murals were proclaimed gaudy and were plastered over. The museum went through a painstaking restoration of its original appearance between 1986 and 1997.

Notable items include a longboat excavated from the banks of the Volga River, gold artifacts of the Scythians, birch-bark scrolls of Novgorod, manuscripts going back to the sixth century, Russian folk ceramics, and wooden objects. The library boasts the manuscripts of the Chludov Psalter (860s), Svyatoslav's Miscellanies (1073), Mstislav Gospel (1117), Yuriev Gospel (1119), and Halych Gospel (1144). The museum's coin collection alone includes 1.7 million coins, making it the largest in Russia.

A branch of the museum is housed in the Romanov Chambers Zaryadye and Saint Basil's Cathedral. In 1934 The Museum of Women's Emancipation at the Novodevichy Convent became part of the State Historical Museum. Some of the churches and other monastic buildings are still affiliated with the State Historical Museum.

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Category: Museums in Russia

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Alexander Potapov (3 years ago)
The museum gives 100 percent great experience to every visitor. Your age, gender, social group, educational level are not significant in that everyone receives unique and peculiar emotions inside, so you just should buy the ticket and enjoy history itself. There are always several independent exhibitions; therefore, the choice is huge.
Nenad Obradovic (3 years ago)
I was in there only 2h. I liked the show, unfortunately I did not have more time. Here one can see Russia that we know little about. The history of Russia is incredible. Who wants to get to know Russia a little bit better must visit this museum. The ticket for the museum is also for Saint Basil's Cathedral...
VillagePlayer (3 years ago)
Awesome. Must see in Moscow. Just go here you will find something you are interested in. Mine favourite is Lenins Rolls-Royce.
Melchisedec Pelizer (3 years ago)
I really think it is one of the best places in the world to learn about Russian history. If you want to get a real glimpse of the whole museum, reserve around 4 good hours (an entire afternoon should make it). They offer audio guides at the gallery entrance and they were of big help to us, despite the fact that there are some places where some information in English is offered. Nevertheless, they happen to be inexpensive and very helpful, though. My favourite part was the Viking and Medieval section, well explained and rich in details. If you are in Moscow, don't miss out this amazing place!
Ömer Engin FIRAT (3 years ago)
The best museum in Moscow with its architectural structure and enormous content. You should spare at least few hours for visiting the whole museum. Its closed on Tuesdays and every first Monday of the month. So don't forget to check again before your visit.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

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The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.