State Darwin Museum - Ever Expanding

Alexander Kots, a professor at Moscow’s Higher Women’s College, founded the State Darwin Museum in 1907. The State Darwin Museum, the first museum of evolution in the world, had one basic purpose: educate the public in the field of evolution, as well as the ecology, theory, biological diversity and conservation of natural history.

The Darwin State Museum had its humble beginnings in Moscow. In 1913, the building of the former Higher Women’s College was given to the museum, but the conditions proved unsafe for the exhibits, and in 1984 the museum was closed to the public. The valuable collections were saved due to the devotion of the museum staff. The Darwin State Museum had to wait eighty years for their new building to be built. Alexander Kots passed away in 1964, and did not witness the start of construction in 1974, even though the construction decree of the new building was issued in 1926. The construction of the new museum building took twenty years to complete, and the State Darwin Museum moved to Vavilova Street in 1994.

The first permanent exhibit was opened in September 1995, and the complete exhibition was opened on the 90th anniversary of the museum in 1997. By 2000, the State Darwin Museum boasted a 5000 square meter exhibition area, three floors and over 5000 specimens, which increased to 33 000 specimens. The Moscow museum also features the biggest aberrant mammal and bird collection in the world, including 800 of the rarest specimens and 34 pure albino specimens. The museum's largest collection is the bird collection, with many exotic birds, and extinct birds such as the Dodo, Passenger Pigeon, Majestic Huia and the Great Auk. The State Darwin Museum also has the largest wildlife art collection in Russia. The museum exhibits the evolution of animals, man’s theorectical origins and relationship with nature and the diversity of life on earth.

During the period of 1996 and 2000 the museum had displayed 79 exhibitions and computerized all their permanent exhibits. The museum has shown statistics of 1 200 000 visitors to the museum and 100 000 internet users have logged onto their website. They also developed a Personal Training Guide booklet, enabling visitors to educate and guide themselves around the exhibits.

Once again the Darwin State Museum in Moscow has run out of space. With their ever growing collections and research, the building has become too small. The Moscow Government has approved the construction of an additional building, but construction is yet to start. So for the time being, parts of collections are to be stored in a hangar. The new building brings promise of two new exhibition halls, lecture halls, cafés and cloakrooms.


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