Kunstkammer Museum - The Chamber of Curiosities

Situated in St Petersburg is the Kunstkammer (meaning “Chamber of Curiosities”). It was founded in 1718, making the Kunstkammer the first museum in St Petersburg, and construction took place between 1718 and 1737. Peter I was a collector of rarities, and the Kunstkammer Museum was intended to be a library to exhibit all the pieces. Today the museum is home to a collection of Ethnography, gathered by Peter the Great (founder of Saint Petersburg), and the Museum of Anthropology. Several architects were involved in the construction of the museum, namely G. Kiaveri, N. Gerbel, and others, and the interior was done according to Zemtsov’s design. Devastation struck this beautiful building in 1747, when fire caused so much destruction that only the walls were left standing. S. Tchevakinsky started restoration on the Kunstkammer, but did not include the tower’s upper circle. The upper circle was only restored by R. Kaplan-Ingel after World War II.

The Kunstkammer of Saint Petersburg is located on the Neva River bank and can therefore be seen from great distances. Peter the Great wanted the Kunstkammer to represent the importance of science, and for the museum to reflect this when the public looked at the building. The collections of Peter the Great were transmitted from the home of the disgraced Kikin to the Kunstkammer in 1727. Adding to the Ethnography and Museum of Anthropology collections of Peter the Great, the Kunstkammer opened the Museum of M. Lomonosov at the end of World War II. This collection displays objects and original documentation of M. Lomonosov’s time. Also to be viewed are books, prints, scientific tools and other items that belonged to and were used by Lomonosov.

The collections in the Kunstkammer museum has been growing constantly, especially with contributions made by famous travelers, donating treasures found on their overseas travels. The permanent exhibits in the Kunstkammer Museum are the ethnography of various countries such as Africa, Australia, China and others, and the Anatomical Rarities exhibition. The Ethnography exhibits display houses, traditional clothing, domestic utensils, musical instruments and various religious and traditional items relating to each country. The unique Globe – Planetarium of Gottorp was created in the 17th century in Germany, and presented to Peter the Great. The globe is 3.1 meters in diameter, on the outside of the globe, known seas, rivers and continents were featured, and on the inside was the world’s first planetarium. This Globe exhibit is the most famous and extraordinary exhibit hosted by the Kunstkammer Museum in St Petersburg.


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