Located on the banks of the Neva in the centre of St. Petersburg, the Kunstkammer, or officially named as Peter the Great’s Museum of Anthropology and Etymology, has been the symbol of the Russian Academy of Sciences since the early 18th century. The museum opened to the public in 1714 mainly exhibiting the tsar’s personal collection. Its purpose was to collect and examine natural and human curiosities and rarities.
Originally the museum was free for all to enter and to witness the natural mysteries in order to broaden human knowledge of this type of phenomena. What started as a personal collection of nit bits collected whilst abroad, soon turned into a vast collection with donations from all sorts of scientific academies from all over the world. The collections contain almost two million artefacts from all over the world and all periods of history. They reflect the diversity of traditional cultures in the Old and New World.
This museum is definitely not for the faint-hearted, young or pregnant! Deformed foetuses in jars are the most popular attraction, but the etymological exhibits with cultural artefacts from the Americas, Oceania, Asia and Africa aren’t to be missed.
Today, collections of Peter the Great’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography are among the most complete and interesting in the world. (As well as some of the strangest!)