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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