- The Russian Museum of Ethnography
The Russian Museum of Ethnography is one of the largest ethnographic museums in the world. Consisting of approximately half a million exhibits, the collections are devoted to the culture and everyday life of the people of the former Russian Empire and Soviet Union. The museum celebrates the national treasures and the ranging cultural dynamics of such a vast territory. There are artefacts on display from the Far East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Siberia.
The museum began to acquire its first collections from the mid-1890s as part of the Ethnographic Department of the Russian Museum. The museum opened in 1924 to the public and in 1934 it became an independent institution, renamed the State Museum of the Ethnography of the Peoples of the USSR in 1948. It acquired its current title in 1992.
The tools, domestic items, folk costumes, utensils and objects of ritual that are exhibited in the 24 halls of the museum, give an idea about the occupations of the population, their dwellings, holidays, rites and religious beliefs. There is a unique photographic library and a scientific archive.
Most of the exhibits illustrating the domestic culture of the various peoples of Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries are presented in the form of life-size models. The exhibitions on Transcaucasia and Central Asia are particularly fascinating with full-sized tents which are examples of what their living spaces would have been like.
The focal point of the museum is its Special Storeroom which contains a great variety of national ornaments, weaponry and devotional objects, made of precious metals, pearl and precious and semiprecious stones. Many of these artefacts are the only ones of their kind and the art of their production has long been forgotten.