MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES IN MOSCOW
In Moscow there are more than 200 museums, galleries, and places with connection literature, music and science. Ticket prices for foreigners are generally significantly higher than ticket prices for Russians. Among the lesser-known ones that are worth checking out are the Museum of Decorative & Folk Art (Inner North, Tsventnoy Bulvar Metro Station), which has a good collection of Palekh objects and 18th- and 19th-century miniatures; the Museum of Oriental Art (Inner Southwest, Arbatskaya Metro Station), with a fine collection of Asian and African art; the Vasnetov House Museum (13 Vasnetsova Pereulk), a fairy cottage set between concrete apartments, with many 19th century painter’s works. Museum of Moscow History (City Center, Novaya pl. 1-2, Lubyanka Metro Station) contains more than 300,000 displays showing the city's history. The Film Museum was founded in 1996 and houses 400,000 items. A vodka museum opened in Moscow in 2003.
All-Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art (Delegatskaya St., 3, Outside the Garden Ring, near Mayakovskaya Metro) has a superb collections of Russian decorative and applied artworks from the 18th to 20th centuries. It contains metal artworks (including jewelry of leading Russian firms of the 19th and early 20th centuries), rare samovars and art castings, Russian art made with varnishes and enamels, porcelain and glass made by Imperial and private plants and works of famous modern artists of decorative and applied art. The collection of decorative and applied artworks of Russian modern style includes works by Vrubel, Golovin, Malyutin, Konenkov and Andreev. There is also an assemblage of Soviet art of 1920s to 1950s that includes agitation porcelain and fabrics. In recent the museum collection has been bolstered by fantastic works of modern artists such as V. I. Mukhina, B. A. Smirnov and V. S. Muratov. The collection of the rare books is kept in museum library along with unique hand-written materials placed in a special archive. The museum is usually open 10:00am to 8:00pm.
State Museum of Oriental Art (Inner Southwest, Arbatskaya Metro Station) has a fine collection of Asian and Middle Eastern art, Officially known as the Federal State Establishment of Culture the State Museum of Oriental Art, it occupies the “Luniny's House” and was founded in 1918. It is one of the world’s largest cultural and educational centers, with works from the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia, Caucasus, Transcaucasia, Kazakhstan, Buryatia and Chukotka. The collection includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, decorative and applied art from Japan, China, Korea, Iran, India, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia and many other countries. There are unique samples of ancient and medieval sculpture, including Buddhist sculptures; classical and modern paintings; and lacquerware, textiles, jewelry, wood and bone carvings, miniature sculpture, arms and everyday items. Temporary exhibitions on a variety of different subjects are regularly held.
See Separate Article on the Kremlin
Museums in Red Square
State History Museum (north end of Red Square) is located in a delightful, Russian-style, red-brick building built between 1878 and 1883. It was reopened in 1997 after 11 years of repairs and restoration work. Before the restoration it housed a large, dreary collections of coins, costumes and artifacts and served as an attic of the Kremlin museums.
The new museum is more upbeat and interesting, covering Russian history from the Stone Age to the present, with displays relating to tsars and other important historical figures. Among them more contains gold plated death mask of Peter the Great and other tsars. Some objects in the museum before the restoration have claimed by churches and other organizations.
About 22,000 items are presented in the State Historical Museum in an area of 4,000 square meters. The cover the entire museum one has to walk about three kilometers. If you spent one minute at each exhibit you would need 360 hours to absorb everything. In 2006, work on the Historical Museum permanent exposition was finished. It covers the history of Russia from the most ancient times to the beginning of 20th century on two levels in 39 halls. Information materials — quite a lot of it in English — is provided in the halls. A large great number of screens and monitors are put to use. Some of them show items that are not on display.
Central Lenin Museum (next to the State History Museum in Red Square) was closed by a decree from Yeltsin after the 1993 assault in the White House. It housed Lenin's coat, study, Rolls Royce and letters and showed films of Lenin getting crowds riled up with his fiery speeches. It also contained Stalin's war medals and Brezhnev's hunting rifles, along with a half million other relics dating back to the Soviet period. The red brick building that contained the museum has been given to the State Historical Museum which is next door.
Kremlin Armory (part of the Great Kremlin Place) houses many important Russian historical treasures and a mind-numbing collection of opulent objects. A separate tickets is necessary to enter the armory. The lines to get in are often long. During the summer tourist season, people are required to enter prescribed times that are posted at the ticket office outside the Kremlin.
The armory collection is housed in nine rooms. Nos. 1 to 5 are upstairs. Nos. 6 to 9 are downstairs. The most crowded rooms include No. 3, with its collection of Fabrage eggs and No 6 with its display of thrones and royal regalia. Individual visitors to the treasury museum use their phones as electronic guides. To find out more about the online version of the electronic guide of the Armoury Chamber visit their website.
The Armoury Chamber is located in the building constructed in 1851 by architect Konstantin Ton. It home to ancient state regalia, ceremonial tsar’s vestments and coronation dress, vestments of the Russian Orthodox Church’es hierarchs, the largest collection of gold and silverware by Russian craftsmen, West European artistic silver, ceremonial weapons and arms, carriages, horse ceremonial harness.
The museum collection consists primarily of treasures and objects created in the Kremlin workshop and items received as gifts from embassies and leaders of foreign states. Many items were kept for centuries in the tsar’s treasury and the Patriarch's sacristy. The museum is named after one of the oldest Kremlin treasury vaults. The museum displays around 4,000 artefacts of decorative and folk-art from the 4th to the early 20th centuries from Russia and countries of Europe and Asia. They have a very high artistic level and historical and cultural value.
Objects in the Kremlin Armory
Among the over 100,000 objects kept in the Kremlin Armory are gold and silver vessels, enamelled saddles, silver bridles, antique weaponry, gem-encrusted vestments, thrones, crowns, gifts from ambassadors, and splendid examples of Russian needlework. Everything the tsars owned seemed to encrusted with jewels even their bibles.
Catherine the Great's coronation dress, embroidered with golden eagles, is displayed next to a tapestry, portraying her as a kindly old grandmother. You can also see her wedding dress. In the collection of carriages you can see Catherine the Great's gold carriages. One carriage has a sculpture of St. George and the Dragon on the axle and another that was a gift from one of Catherine’s lovers.
Also check out the two Persian war masks, which give you some idea of how far the Russian empire spread; decorated breastplates, each featuring a lion sucking on a cannon, the symbol of the tsars's artillery unit; the collection of 300 antique guns with their theatrically designed flints; and the display of gold-framed ivory buttons, which are said to have been carved by Peter the Great himself for his own coat.
Added in the late 1990s and early 2000s are 299 pieces of the 13th century silver jewelry which were discovered in a wooden box by a workman digging a hole in a basement snack bar under the Savior Tower. Among the pieces are bracelets decorated with human-head creatures, breast plates with angels, a jeweled gold ring with Arabic inscriptions, heavy star-shaped pendants covered with thousands of silver granules and silver money bars. One of the museum curators believe the cache belonged to Prince Vladimir himself. "Only the wealthiest family could own such objects," she said. Another old piece is a 13th century helmet discovered in 1808.
Thrones, Faberge Eggs and Royal Regalia in the Kremlin Armory
The thrones in the Kremlin Armory include the joint coronation throne used by Peter the Great and his half brother Ivan. Both seats contain secret compartment used by Peter's manipulative mother, the Regent Sophia, to prompt them. You can also see the throne used by Peter father, Tsar Alexey. It is made from solid ivory and adorned with 800 hundreds of diamonds.
The Cap of Monamakh was used to crown the tsars between 1498 and 1682. It is made of two pounds of gold, jewels and sable, and shaped like a fur-lined yamaka. The jewel imbedded Cap of Kazan commemorates Ivan the Terrible's defeat of the Tatars in Kazan in 1552. Crowning the Cap of Peter the Great is a diamond cross supported by a ruby. The are several sable-trimmed crowns. The three middle bands alone of the Orb of Tsar Alexis boast 36 diamonds and 136 rubies;
Usually only some of the ten jewel-and-enamel Fabergé eggs in the collection are displayed at one time. One opens up like a clamshell, revealing a gold- plated globe inside. Decorated with tiny portraits of the Romonav family, this tiny work of art was a gift from Nicholas II to his wife Alexandra in 1913. Another one made from jade, rubies and diamonds open to a gold model of the Alexander Palace, the favorite home of the royal family. Another open to reveal a gold Trans Siberian train with a platinum engine and a ruby headlamp.
Ivan the Terrible Objects in the Armory include a ruby and sapphire book of Gospels given to the Annunciation Cathedral by Ivan the Terrible; The Measure Icon was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to celebrate the birth of his son Ivan. The 18-inch icon — depicting John of the Ladder, the boy's patron saint — is the same length as the boy when he was an infant. Ivan was eventually murdered by his father.
A beautiful jewel encrusted golden chalice that was presented to the Archangel Cathedral upon his death by Ivan the Terrible's wife Tsarina Irina is also on display. A likeness of the real Dmitri (impersonated by the imposter known as the false Dmitriis) decorates a 14th century tomb cover also in the museum.
Diamond Fund Exhibit and the Russian Crown Jewels
Diamond Fund Exhibit is a unique collection, based on the Royal Crown jewels. It includes a dazzling array of diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire and pearl jewelry once worn by the tsars and their families as well as objects dug up in Siberian mines. This exhibit has been set up for foreign citizens only and requires a separate ticket.
The magnificent Russian Imperial Crown, designed for Catherine the Great in 1762, features 4,936 diamonds, topped by a 399-carat spinel (not a ruby) supported on a jewel encrusted arch and framed by pearls.
The 189.62-carat Orloff diamond is a blue gem reputed stolen from the statue of a Hindu God in India and eventually given to Catherine the Great by her lover Girgory Orloff. The diamond is now sits below the double eagle in the Imperial Scepter.
The 88.7-carat Shah is a yellow diamond once own by the builder of the Taj Mahal. It was taken out of India during a Persian invasion and later given to tsar Nicholas I in 1829 as a peace offering from the Persian shah.
The collection also contains some the largest diamonds in the world. The 232-carat Star of Yakutia and the 342-carat 26th Party Congress (a joking reference to the fact the diamond is "huge and formless") may not be sold. Both gems were taken from massive open-pit Mirny (Peace) and Udanchni (Lucky) diamond mine in Yakutia, Siberia.
The collection also houses gold and platinum jewelry; one of the world's largest blue sapphires; several emeralds more than 100 carats each; and rubies of 18 and 40 carats. You can also see a huge gold nugget in the shape of horses' head, several rough diamonds (the largest, nearly 106 carats), a huge piece of emerald ore almost half a foot high.
Before World War I the Russian crown jewels were kept in the Winter Palace (present-day Hermitage) in St. Petersburg. When the World War I started they were moved to the Kremlin. Their whereabouts was lost during the Bolshevik Revolution. In the 1922, they were discovered in some crates in the Armory basement. Lenin ordered that they be used to back the Soviet currency. Trotsky ordered the objects catalogued and suggested all the objects be sold off. More than 100 lots were auctioned off in 1927 when the Communist government was desperate for cash. Other auctions in 1931 and 1932 reduced the collection to two thirds of what it once was.
Pushkin Fine Arts Museum
Pushkin Fine Arts Museum (Inner Southwest, Volkhonka 12, Kropotkinskaya Metro Station) is Moscow's premier foreign art museum. It contains a first rate collection of art including Greek and Roman sculpture and amphorae, Egyptian statuettes and reliefs (many are copies), and paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Delacroix, Monet, Gaugin, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, Degas, Rousseau, Picasso and other artists from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. There are 11 works by Monet and six by Rembrandt.
The collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art is one of the finest outside of France. The collection in the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum used to be part of the collection of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg but Soviet Government divided it between the two museums. The museum also copies of famous works of art. The Pushkin secretly held a lot of art looted from Germany at the end of World War II, including gold from ancient Troy. The museum is so rich in Rembrandts it loaned some to a museum in Houston in exchange for a Goya still life. During the exchange one Rembrandt was damaged while it was being transported to the United States.
The A. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1898 and opened in 1912. The main part of the collection was formed in the 1920s and 30s works by foreign artists at the former Rumyantsev Museum and the collections of S. Tretyakov, Yusupov, Shuvalov, G. Brokar, D. Shchukin and other collectors were united. From the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the museum received works by Boticelli, Rembrandt, Van Dyke, Rubens, Poussin, Murilo and Kanaletto. In 1932 the Fine Arts Museum was renamed into the State Museum of Fine Arts. In 1937 it obtained its old name — the A. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts — again.
In 1948, the collection at the Pushkin was enlarged again when it received works of artists from collection of former Museum of New Western Art in Moscow. Among the there were paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Sisley, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Marquet, Rouault, Picasso and others works owned by the Russian collectors S. Shchukin and I. Morozov. There is also a significant collection of original West European sculpture and applied art at the museum.
Museum of Private Collections, also known as the Rerikh Museum, opened in some beautiful old mansions in Pushkin State Museum of Arts area in 1994. Inspired by an idea of Ilya Zilbershtein (1905-1988), a famous Moscow collector and critic, museum houses about 7,000 works of Russian and West European art from the 15th to 20th centuries. There are paintings, drawings, sculptures, applied art and photos. The Collections include Russian realistic painting of the second half of 19th century by S. V. Solovyov, Russian painting at the turn of 19th-20th centuries by A. N. Ramm, small animal sculptures of the 19th century by E. Y. Stepanov, art glass by E. P. Lemkul, theater decoration drawings from the beginning of 20th century by Nikita and Nina Lobanov-Rostovky and drawings of Alexander Benua from collection of S. V. Papkov. There are also works by outstanding 20th century artists such as Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, David Shternberg, Georgy and Orest Vereisky, Vladimir Weisberg and Alexander Tyshler.
Tretyakov Gallery (Inner South, Lavrushinsky oer 2, Tretyakovskaya Metro Station) is said by many to be the best museum in Moscow. Opened in 1994 after 10-year, US$50 million restoration, it houses the world's finest collection of Russian painting and sculpture, and is particularly renowned for its medieval icons and modern Russian art.
The gallery is housed in a mansion owned by the Tretyakov brothers, merchants who founded the museum in 1856 and bequeathed it to the city of Moscow in 1892. The most outstanding feature of the building itself is its stunning facade designed by the artist is Viktor Vasnetov in 1901. It has a churchlike portal and an image of St. George slaying the dragon.
The restoration enlarged and spruced up the museum and added marble floors, and a handsome museum shop. Some of the churches are currently in the process of trying to retrieve icons and other objects that were taken during the Soviet era and placed in the museum. The gallery is part of a huge modernist complex called the Central House of Artists on the Moscow River. It contains works by 20th century artists such as Chagall and Kandinsky.
There are 61 rooms in the museum's two floors, including seven with icons, seven with 18th century art, 23 for 19th century art and 12 for 20th century art. The rooms are more less organized chronically, with exception of the icons which are in rooms 55 to 62. The paintings are labeled in both Russian and English. Unfortunately the icons only have Russian captions.
The museum’s main building in Lavrushinsky side-street contains the heart of the collection, including Russian icons from the 12th century to the works of masters from the 1910s. There are over 1,300 exhibits in total, with works by Repin, Serov, Shishkin, Bryullov, Vasnetsov, and many others. In addition to the historical building on Lavrushinky Lane, the Tretyakov Gallery also includes: an engineering building that hosts temporary exhibitions; a building on Krymsky Val, where 20th-century art is exhibited; the Museum-Church of St. Nicholas on Maly Tolmachevsky Lane; and the museums dedicated toam Vasnetsov, V.M. Vasnetsov, A.S. Golubkin, and P.D. Korin. The gallery offers tours for adults and children. In the new building are a lecture hall and a creative workshop . A ticket costs 500 rubles.
History of the Tretyakov Gallery
The history of the gallery dates back to 1856, when Pavel Tretyakov acquired two paintings by Russian artists. This was the first step toward the creation of a legendary collection. The collection grew steadily and in 1867, the Moscow City Gallery of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov received its first visitors.
The most important event occurred in 1892, when Pavel Tretyakov donated his art gallery to the city of Moscow. At that moment the gallery consisted of 1287 paintings and 518 graphic works by Russian artists, 75 paintings and 8 drawings by European artists, 15 sculptures, and a collection of icons.
Tretyakov collected pieces of art according to his taste. Time has shown how well he understood art and its importance not only in the cultural but also in the social and political life of society. He was able see the artistic merits of a piece of art even if it was controversially received by critics and people at large, or if its author was a young man unknown to everybody.
Tretyakov Gallery Collection
Tretyakov Gallery Collection includes 60,000 works of art: everything from 11th century icons to 19th century portraits of famous Russian writers. It is particularly strong in medieval icons, historical painting, traditional folk art and modern Russian art. The museum combines a huge exhibition space and advanced technology with an intimate, cozy atmosphere. Only about a third of the collection is shown at one time, with works of art changing on a rotating basis.
Among the most famous works in the museum is the 12th century Byzantine masterpiece, “Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God”, the most valued icon in Russia and an inspiration for icon makers all over Russia for centuries. Equally famous is the “Old Testament Trinity” (1402) by Andrei Rublyev (1360-1430), regarded as the greatest artist and an icon painter in medieval Russia. There also famous icons by Diobysius and Theophanes the Greek,
Paintings by great Russian artists like I.E. Repin, V.G. Perov, I.N. Kramskoy, I.I. Shishkin, V.M. Vasnetsov, I.I. Levitan, A.K. Savrasov, V.D. Polenov, V.I. Surikov, V.A. Serov, meters.A. Vrubel, B.M. Kustodiev, N.K. Roerich, I.E. Grabar, A.A Deineka, P.P. Konchalovsky, V.I Mukhina, Y.I. Pimenov, T.N. Yablonskaya are the pride of the collection.
There are a number of paintings by people from the 19th-century Peredvizniki School: Valentin Serov, Vasily Surikov and Ilya Repin. Famous painting here include Kipresnsky's portrait of Pushkin; Repin's “Portrait of Turgenev” and “A Religious procession through Kursk” and “Ivan the Terrible and His Son”; Stepanov's “The Cranes Are Flinging”; and Kuznettsov's portraits of Tchaikovsky and Chekhov.
One room is devoted to the works of the Russian symbolist Mikhail Vrubel. The showcase piece is his massive Princess Gryoza. There are also works by Kandinsky, Popova, Filonov and Chagall. Statues of Stalin, Brezhnev, Lenin, Marx and KGB-founder Dzerzhinsky were torn down and placed on the lawn beside the State Tretyakov Gallery, where children used them as slides.
Andrey Rublyev Museum and Andronikov Monastery
Andrey Rublyev Museum and Andronikov Monastery (Inner Southeast, Andronievskaya pl. 10, Ploshchad Iicha Metro Station) contain a collection of 14th to 19th centuries icons from the Moscow, Rostov and Novgorod schools but nothing by Rublyov himself. Rublyov was a monk at the monastery and is buried here but nobody is sure where. The small Savior's Cathedral, built in 1427, is the oldest stone building in Moscow. It is made of white stone, an incredible luxury for that time. From white stone only the richest churches and palaces were built. It was totally reconstructed during 1950s after careful study of stones for clues on its construction.
Rublyev is credited with launching the development of the unique Russian style of icon-making. Before he came along Russian icon artists mostly studied and copied works by Greek artists and Greek Orthodox art. Rublyev developed icons with a distinctive Russian character and other artist followed his example. Rublev lived for many years at the Monastery of Our Saviour and St. Andronicus here and became a master and passed away here. During the Soviet era, until 1950, the Monastery kept records for the Committee for State Security (KGB). At this time Andrey Rublev was recognized as a great artist and the KGB handed over the building to the museum and the Museum of Ancient Russian Culture was established within the walls of the monastery. The museum opened in 1947 during the 800th anniversary of the founding of Moscow.
After the museum was established an effort was made to collect samples of great Russian medieval art. Frescos, icons, fragments and whole compositions were brought to the museum. Because the museum was under Communist control, works were judged on their artistry and historical importance and representation of traditional Russian life not their religious content. In addition to icons and painting there are also medieval handmade clothes, jewelry and metal goods and other interesting items.
Museum of the Russian Icon
The Museum of Russian Icon (in Shvivaya Gorka on Goncharnaya Sloboda, accessible from the Taganskaya and Marksistskaya Metro Stations) contains the largest private collection of Eastern Christian art in Russia. Housed in two 19th- early 20th century town-houses in one of the historic quarters of Moscow, the museum contains almost 4,500 museum-quality pieces. There is an admission price. Tours, concerts and lectures, which take place at the museum, are free.
The Museum of Russian Icon was founded by the businessman and benefactor Mikhail Abramov in 2006. Initially, the Museum was located in one of the halls of the “Vereiskaya Plaza” business center. The new museum complex in the Taganka district opened in January 2011. Two 19th-early 20th century town-houses in the Goncharnaya street in Shvivaya Gorka on Goncharnaya Sloboda (The Tailor’s Hill in the Potter’s Suburb) were reconstructed and equipped for the housing and exhibition of the museum’s collection.
The museum contains interactive exhibitions, such as the reconstructed Icon painter’s workshop (with a real iconographer working at the museum); a genuine Old Believer’s chapel, with a fully reconstructed interior (made in accordance with the traditions of the Priestless strain of the Old Believer movement); and a reconstruction of an Orthodox Christian altar, with an authentic Greek iconostasis, dating back to the end of the 17th century (a monument unique among Russian collections). The collection includes samples of Late Roman art; Early Christian and Byzantine antiquities of the 6th-14th centuries; monuments of Greek iconography; and large museum of Ethiopian Christian art, with over 2,400 works.
The cornerstone of the Museum is the collection of Russian iconography, which includes almost 1,000 icons. The display os organized chronologically, principles, which allows the visitor to examine the styles of diverse iconographic centers, as they developed during the course of several centuries – from the birth of the national iconographic style in the 14th century up to the time of the re-discovery of ancient iconographic traditions in the early 20th century. Among the most treasured pieces are Old Russian art from the 14th-16thcenturies; Pskov icons of the 16th and 17th centuries; painted icons made by masters from Moscow and the Volga Region; and works by Moscow’s Armoury school, including pieces by Simon Ushakov. The Museum Among the works from renowned 19th and early 20th century iconographic centers are pieces by masters from Palekh, Mstyora and Yaroslavl as well as the Old Believer schools of Vyg, Nevyansk and Romanov-Borisoglebsk.
Due to its large size the collection of Ethiopian art basically forms its own stand-alone, full-scale museum. It includes a wide range of crosses of all possible shapes, sizes and types: from small silver or brass baptismal and pectoral crosses to grand processional ones, used during the solemn church services. The predominance of the crosses in the museum’s Ethiopian hall (the exhibition numbers over 1,700) is no mere chance; this Christian symbol always held a special, revered place in Ethiopian culture. The Museum’s Ethiopian collection also includes numerous pieces of artwork – icons, diptychs and triptychs, religious and secular paintings, a series of manuscript books and scrolls illustrated with various miniatures. There are also different pieces of ethnographic, folk crafts – pottery, wickerwork, woodcarving, painting on skins, popular prints, and folk art. The collection of silver filigree pendants of various shapes and sizes are rare in their beauty and quality, Many were made in the royal workshop of Emperor Menelik II.
Museum of Cosmonautics
Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics (northeast Moscow, Prospekt Mira 111 in the VDNH Exhibition area. VDNKh Metro Station) is also known as the Memorial Museum of Astronautics, or Memorial Museum of Space Exploration. Dedicated to space exploration and is located within the base of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, the museum contains a wide variety of Soviet and Russian space-related exhibits and models related to the history of flight, astronomy, space exploration, space technology and space in the arts. According to the Russian tourist board, the museum's collection holds approximately 85,000 different items and receives approximately 300,000 visitors yearly.
Museum of Cosmonautics is the Russian version of the Air an Space Museum. It is very interesting and very popular. Here you can see models of the spacecraft used by Gagarin; the U.S and U.S.S.R. spacecraft that linked together during the 1975 Soyuz-Apollo mission; and interplanetary probes that have gone to Venus and Mars. The Alley of the Cosmonauts (part of the All-Russia Exhibition) is marked by a 328-foot curving, triangular titanium obelisk representing exhaust from a silver rocket that tops it. It was built in 1964. There are visages of famous cosmonauts and space heros such as Yuri Gagarin, Valendtina Tershkova, Pavel Belyaev, Alexei Leonva a Vladimir Komarov.
The Museum of Space Exploration is one of the biggest museums dedicated to science and technology. Located in VDNKh (the Russian acronym for the All-Union Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy), it has exhibits on cosmonaut number one — Yuri Gagarin — the first human being in space, the space dogs Belka and Strelka, and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. The shining arrow-like Monument to the Conquerors of Space was erected in 1964. The Museum of Cosmonautic was opened in the monument in 1981. In 2009 after massive renovation was finished, the museum reopened and more space, new exhibition halls and high-tech exhibits.
The museum government detailed and accurate models of the first satellites, the first Soviet and American spacesuits, rockets, space carfts, technology used for exploration of the Moon and nearest planets of the solar system, exhibits on modern achievements in space technologies and examples of food eaten by cosmonauts such as tubes with puree or tiny loafs of bread. “House on the Orbit” describes the daily life of cosmonauts. “Cosmonautics to the Humanity” demonstrates how space technologies provides us with mobile and internet communications. In the Museum cam be seen everything connected to the space: from space meals to carrier rockets.
Museums in Moscow Related to War and Revolution
Museum of the Revolution (Inner Northwest, near Pushkin square on Tverskaya ulitsa 21, Tverskaya and Puskinskaya Metro Station) has displays related to both sides of the Communist Revolution: propaganda pictures of happy workers and heroism in World War II as well as photos from labor camps, the repression of artists and writers, the riot at Stalin's funeral, and horrors of collectivization. In the forecourt of the museum is a trolleybus that got blasted during 1991 protests in Moscow when it was used as a barricade. Guided tours in English are offered on Saturday and Sunday. There is a shop that sells Communist memorabilia such as Stain busts, Lenin pins and propaganda posters. Some of the collectors stuff sells for several thousand dollars. Another shop sells Lego sets, baseball cards and stuff Mickey Mouses.
Museum of the War of 1812 (Revolution Square, in Tverskoy District, northwest of Red Square) is officially known as the New Moscow Museum of 1812. Using touch-screens, light projectors, animated maps, multimedia exhibits and interactive battlefields, it brings to life Russia’s war against Napoleon in great detail. Part Russian Revival, part neo-Renaissance, the red-brick building that houses the museum was built in the 1890s as the Moscow City Hall and later served as the Central Lenin Museum. It was converted into the War of 1812 Museum in honour of the war's 200-year anniversary. Artwork, documents, weapons and uniforms are also on display. Exhibits provide detailed, chronological coverage of all phases of the war, with good signage in English. There are also film depictions of various battles to enhance your understanding of events. Highlights include a series of paintings by Vasily Verechshagin entitled 1812, old film footage of Nicholas II at Borodino and Napoleon's getaway sleigh.
Borodino Panorama (Kutuzovsky Prospekt in the Outer West, Kutuzovskaya Metro Station) is the home of a panorama painting (a 360̊ painting viewed from the inside of a cylinder) called “The Battle of Borodino.” It depicts the famous battle between Russians and Napoleon's army in 1812 in which 100,000 died. The painting was restored during the 1950s, features battlefield sound effect and draws millions of visitors. A new panorama painting, “Defense of Leningrad,” was unveiled in the 1990s. The museum is officially known as the Museum-Panorama the Borodino Battle. The Panorama “Borodino” is 115 meters long and 15 meters tall. It shows the events which took place on the field of battle around noon on August 26, 1812. The panorama was unveiled in wooden pavilion at Chistye Prudy in 1912, which fell into disrepair by 1918. The second life of the panorama began in 1962 when the new building on Kutuzovsky Prospekt was built for 150th anniversary of the victory in the Patriotic War.
Victory Museum (on Poklonnaya Gora in Victory Park, Minskaya Metro Station) is a reportedly devoted to World War II officially called the Moscow Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945. Located and at the centre of Victory Memorial Complex and opened in 1995, it contains military, historical and artistic expositions. There are six dioramas devoted to major battles as well as audio-visual venues showing original wartime documentary films, rare photos and cartographical and archive materials. The museum is equipped with an automated system — called the “Book of Memory” — for searching data on those who died in days in the war.. In Victory Park, you can see military hardware and engineering fortification of World War II.
Museum of Armed Forces (Inner North, Novoslobodskaya Metro Station) contains tanks, artillery, planes, captured Nazi standards, parts from the U-2 spy plane shot down in 1960 and a Kalishnakov used by a North Vietnamese soldier to kill 78 Americans. Officially known as The Central Museum of Armed Forces, it is devoted to military and historical subjects and contains nearly 800,000 objects, including fighting and trophy banners of the Civil and Second World War periods, documents, artworks, photos, collections, weapons, awards and personal items belong to military personnel. There about 150 pieces of large military hardware exhibited in the museum’s outdoor area. Among these are artillery pieces, armoured vehicles, tanks and missiles. There is aviation materiel, naval engineering and armament that includes gunnery and tanks used in the Russian Civil War in the 1910s and 20s and modern operational, tactical and strategic missiles, missile-carrying aircrafts and air defense facilities.
Lubyanka KGB Headquarters (Dzerzhinsky Square, about one kilometer northeast of Red Square) is now the headquarters of KGB's successor, the FSB. Beginning in 1991, it began offering tours. Sometimes foreigners are let in for invitation-only tours organized through travel agents or the government. Visitors are not allowed to visit the torture chambers and interrogation and execution cells in the basement below the Lubyanka building but they can see displays that were intended to inspire new agents: photographs of wives of U.S. diplomats throwing secret messages out car windows, microscopic clues in the corner of National Geographic magazines, holed out shoes and concealed listening devices.
Dzerzhinsky Square (about one kilometer northeast of Red Square is flanked on one side by the huge Children's World store and the other side by the Lubyanka. Dzerzhinsky Ploshchad is the old name of the square. The new name is Lubyanskaya Ploshchad. Felix Dzerzhinsky was the name of the man who founded the Cheka, the forerunner of the KGB. A large statue of Dzerzhinsky that once dominated the square was torn down after the coup attempt in 1991. A simple wooden cross sits on the statue's pedestal. Nearby is the small Memorial of the Victims of Totalitarianism, honoring the "millions of victims of the totalitarian regime."
Andrey Rublyev Museum and Andronikov Monastery (Inner Southeast, Andronievskaya pl. 10, Ploshchad Iicha Metro Station) contain a the small Savior's Cathedral, built in 1427, the oldest stone building in Moscow. During the Soviet era, until 1950, the Monastery kept records for the Committee for State Security (KGB). At this time Andrey Rublev was recognized as a great artist and the KGB handed over the building to the museum and the Museum of Ancient Russian Culture was established within the walls of the monastery. The museum opened in 1947 during the 800th anniversary of the founding of Moscow.
KGB Museum (next to Lubyanka KGB headquarters, 100 meters from Sporlova Metro Station) was founded in 1984 by Yuri Andropov. It concentrates primarily on the history of the KGB, the Cheka (the KGB's predecessor) and the FSB (the KGB's successor) and counter intelligence successes during the Cold War. Visitors are led through the exhibits by former KGB officers, who feel at liberty to dish out anti-American statements. The guide for a couple of Washington Post reporters informed them, "Murder, killing, drug trafficking — that's American-style democracy."
The official name of the museum is the Historical Showroom (or Demonstrative Hall) of Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia. It is often called the “museum” of the State Security Committee (KGB), The museum is small, only four rooms, and was set as a professional training and education facility for KGB employees, young trainees and prospective agents. Among the 2,000 or so items on display are grisly photographs of World War II shootings, James-Bon-style spy gadgets, a tiny key-chain camera that can take 44 photographs, a listening device placed by a submarine on a Soviet telephone cable and vintage machine guns.
Among those honored in "heroes of the Soviet Union" section are the British spy Kim Philby from the Cambridge Five and Klaus Fuchs, the spy who provided the Soviet Union with instructions on how to build atomic weapons. Putin's picture and a brief resume is included on the list of former agents. There are no photos of Andrei Sakharov or Alexander Solzhenitsyn and few references to the horrors committed under Stalin.
Since 1989, the KGB museum has allowed non-KGB and non-military visitors in with special permission. The applications tours can take several weeks. For permission one has to submit passport data. The duration of the guided tour is from two to six hours. The guide is generally an FSB employee of sub-colonel rank. His traditional name is “Ivanov Ivan Ivanovich”. His assistant’s name is also “Ivanov Ivan Ivanovich”. Visitors have to disable their mobile phones. Taking photographs is allowed only in designated small areas and can nver show the face of Ivanov Ivan Ivanovich. It is not clear if tours of the KGB Museum are happening now.
Visiting the KGB Museum
According to tour2moscow.com: “The exposition starts with the display of documents connected with the beginning of the intelligence and counter intelligence activities in the Russian State. The following serves a good example: “in 1380 thanks to Boyarin Zachary Tyutchev, who was the head of the embassy of the Great Moscow Prince Dmitry in Golden Horde, the Mamay hordes were smashed. Tyutchev misinformed Mamay about the Russian forces, and also obtained valuable information of the place and time Mamay was to meet Lithuanian Pronce Yagailo and Ryazan Prince Oleg, who were supported to make arrangements for uniting their troops.” There are a number of documents going backPeter the Great and Catherine the Great and documents from wars from 1812 to 1914. There are also papers, telling about the victories and mistakes of Russian special services in their fight with espionage, terrorism and also the work, connected with political parties of the 1917 revolution. [Source: http://tour2moscow.com]
The main hall exhibition covers the history of the Russian counter-intelligence from 1918, when the Cheka was created to 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, formally ending the history of the KGB. After that Russian intelligence and secret service was divided into counterintelligence, or FSB, and the Foreign Intelligence Service (ex. PGU KGB = SVR, located in Yasenevo restricted area in Moscow aka “Les” – Wood), which manages a network of the agents abroad. The halls visted by the tourist are still used by the Russian intelligence services as a meeting place and a place to enjoy a traditional table of food, vodka and cognac.
The tour starts at a large white bust of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka. A great number of documents devoted to the creation and development of Soviet Secret Services are represented in the museum. In the historic hall, which was formerly known as “Chekist Hall KGB”, new FSB officers take an oath on the Russian Constitution. One display here are uniforms of employees of the Cheka-OGPU-NKVD-MGB (mostly replicas) and the uniforms of the current FSB officers. A separate Hall is dedicated to the activities of NKVD ( People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs) and the Soviet Intelligence (SMERCH) during World War II (the Great Patriotic War). There are a few displays that cover the events connected with repressions that took place in the 1930s and 40s under Stalin.
From the Cold War period there is a display on Cary Powers, the pilot of the U-2 US spy plane shot down in 1960 who was imprisoned in Lubyanka prison. He was traded in 1962 for the Soviet spy, US Colonel William Fischer, known as Rudolf Abel. The display shows items from the U-2 plane, including photographic equipment and a short-wave radio. Other items from the Cold War period include spy devices such as the tube, smoked by Kim Philby, a famous double agent and employee of Britain’s MI-6 and devices taken from CIA agents captured in Russia . The guide shows how an ordinary-looking backpack can be transformed into a mini-helicopter in less than minute. The vinyl records that carry secret messages that can be seen when “looking backwards from the center.” There are also microphones embedded in cigarette packs, micro-cameras, and microfilms that could be hidden in eyeglass frames. In the last room is an exhibit from the 90s, including weapons confiscated from terrorists..
Museums Devoted to Soviet Era Repression and Politics
State Museum of the Gulag (outside the Garden Ring in northern Moscow, accessibley by the Dostoevskaya and Novoslobodskaya Metro stations) contains a collection comprised of documentary archive, letters and memoirs by former GULAG prisoners, their personal belongings and a collection of artworks by former GULAG inmates and contemporary artists offering their own vision of the subject. Gulags were Soviet forced-labour camps.
The Soviet labor camp system was a big part of the Soviet state machinery from the 1930s to the 1950s. The exhibition room displays personal cases of individuals who were victims of Soviet repressive policies and were sentenced to labor camp imprisonment. One of the most important sections of the exhibition is a reconstruction of labor camp facilities, such as a prisoners barrack, a punishment cell, an authorized operative officer’s room and a watchtower (in a courtyard). The museum staff offers guided tours in Russian and English.
Sakharov Peace, Progress and Human Rights Museum is devoted to the life of the dissident Andrei Sakharov and his human right activities. It is housed in an elegant old building that was once a police station. Founded in 1996, it embraces exhibits such as “Totalitarian Past”, “The Life and Activities of Andrei Sakharov” and “Modern Problems of Russia” which are also important topic of its research and public activities. The mission of the museum is to “contribute to the preservation of the historic memory of tens of millions of victims of the political repressions and crimes of the Soviet regime.”
Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center (inside the Third Ring Road, accessible by Marina Roscha Metro Station) opened in 2012 and It is located in the Bahmetevskogo garage building — a monument of constructivism designed by K. Melnikov and Vladimir Shukhov and erected in 1927. The permanent exhibition tells about the culture and traditions of the Jewish people throughout the history of Russia — from the reign of Catherine the Great to the present day. It is divided into 12 themed spaces, each corresponding a period of Russian and world history. There are photo and video archives, documents, interviews, films and interactive displays. Among the displays of real objects related to Jewish life are objects that come to life when you touch them. "The Beginning" is a 4D-film devoted to the events of biblical and ancient history of the Jewish people. There is also a museum shop as well as programs for children. Audio guides are available in Russian, English and Hebrew.
Offbeat Museums in Moscow
Offbeat Museums include the Optical Illusions Museum, a branch of Museum of the History of Vodka and the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines. The latter has a unique collection of arcade machines made by the USSR beginning in the mid 1970s. Among them are Sea Rider, Air Battle, the Sniper and Basketball. others. Also you can try an original Soviet soda or milkshake prepared in a Soviet-era Voronezh-2 blender.
Moscow Psychiatric Hospital No. 1 Museum (Zagorodnoye Shosse, Psikhiatricheskaya Metro Station) is museum made from the most famous psychiatric hospital in Russia. Officially known as Museum of History of Moscow City Psychiatric Hospital. N.A.alekseeva and more commonly known as Kashchenko or Kanatchikov Dacha, it contains old histories, records, reports, photographs, portraits of the hospital staff, their biographies, information about the patrons, participants of the Great Patriotic War, veterans of labor, products of occupational therapy workshops. The hospital was founded by N.A. Alexeev (1885-1893) and the physician P.P. Kashchenko, whose name is attached to the facility. Some of Russia’s most outstanding psychiatrists P.B. Gannushkina, G.E. Sukharev, V.A. Giljarovsky and A.V. Snezhnensky worked here.
Museum of Ice in Sokolniki (Sokolniki Park, Rizhskaya Metro Station) is equipped with powerful freezers, maintain the necessary temperature so that its ice sculptures — of characters from fairy tales, Pushkin poems, Krylov's fables and cartoons — can be seen the year round. One can also see Russia’s best ice sculptors, designers and artists at work. For its of international competitions and festivals more than 90 tons of ice is used. Many designs utilize a LED lights.
Matryoshka Museum is the first Museum of Matryoshka nesting dolls, covering the dolls as Russian folk crafts, and touching on their regional production and artists and craftsmen. In 2000, the Russian Fund of Folk Arts and Crafts held an exhibition dedicated to the centennial of the first Russian nesting dolls. From this exhibition a permanent museum was created that opened in 2001. In the museum you can see the so-called "faceless" dolls, story painting which goes over the entire surface as a canvas for painting.
Russian first detachable doll named Matrona or matryoshka, emerged in the late 19th century mansion on Leontief Lane, d. 7 in a workshop-store named AI Mammoth ("Infant Education"). In 1900, matryoshka was sent to the World Trade and Industrial Exhibition in Paris, where she was awarded a bronze medal for the best embodiment of the idea of preservation and family reunification. Matryoshka becomes known throughout the world and pervraschaetsya in one of the national symbols of Russia. In 1902 the mansion was bought by Sergei Timofeevich Morozov for Handicraft museum of dolls production moved to Sergiev Posad. Due to the popularity of Sergiev Posad matryoshka began to emerge new centers for manufacturing and painting in places of traditional folk crafts.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website russiatourism.ru ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.
Updated in September 2020