Orlov Museum of Palaeontology, Moscow

The History of the Orlov Museum of Palaeontology

  • Far from the tourist trails, by the side of an unassuming motorway in Moscow’s suburbia, a monster of a building juts out of the ground. Its imposing gates, wrought into reptilian forms, forebode of the sights that lie within. The origins of the Orlov Museum of Palaeontology are rather noble. Kunstkamera, the first museum in Russia, pioneered fossil collecting at the beginning of the 18th-century. The ice age mammals and Precambrian fossils excavated in Siberia by the order of Peter the Great laid the foundations for the current collections of the Orlov museum.
  • When the fossil collections of Kunstkamera and other museums were merged in the 1930s to form Moscow’s Paleontological museum, it became apparent that one museum was hardly sufficient to display even a fraction of Russia’s antediluvian remains. This, of course, shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sub-zero temperatures make Russia and especially Siberia, ideal for preserving bones. Expeditions during the USSR continued to reap a trove of artefacts, overwhelming the museum to such an extent that in 1954 it was closed down.
  • The director at the time, Yuri Orlov, spent the next decade lobbying for the construction of a new museum. Thanks to his persistence, generations of Russian school children have been wowed by the terrifying beasts and otherworldly bugs on display in one of only three museums dedicated to dinos in Russia.

Orlov Museum of Palaeontology

Photo from https://www.paleo.ru/

What can you see in the Orlov Museum of Palaeontology today?

Ice-Age Beasts

Old or young, the mere sight of the fearsome creatures that once roamed Russia is guaranteed to induce goose bumps. The skull of a sabre-tooth tiger is unnervingly life-like— its intact canines seem to glisten with saliva— even the skeleton of an extinct species of moose is positively hair- raising in all its 4.5 meters from hoof to antler-tip. Naturally, the museum has its stock of Siberian woolly mammoths, and a giant rhino adds an exotic twist to the otherwise distinctly Russian collection.

Orlov Museum of Palaeontology

Photo from https://www.paleo.ru/

Bona-fide Dinosaurs and Life-Size Casts

BIG seems the only apt word to describe the Orlov Palaeontological Museum’s dinosaur exhibition. The variety and sheer size of the skeletons and casts sprawling through the halls will set even the heads of dino-experts spinning. With giant therizinosaurus claws, 11 ton saurolophus skeletons, juvenile tarbosaurus skulls, therapsids from Perm, otherworldly fossilized eggs and a 21 metre diplodocus cast presented to the last Tsar, Moscow’s most overlooked museum could rival the likes of London’s Natural History Museum.

Orlov Museum of Palaeontology

Photo from https://www.paleo.ru/

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