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Ukraine National Academy of Sciences, Zoological Museum, National Museum of Natural History of Ukraine (Kiev)

15 Bogdana Khmelnitskogo Street, Kiev (tel.: +38 044 235-62-66), Metro stations: "Teatralnaya", "Zolotyye Vorota".


The National Museum of Natural History at the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences (the Museum, for short) is one of the world's largest museums of its kind. It was created in 1966 as a joint exhibition complex consisting of several museums: the Museum of Geology, the Museum of Palaeontology, the Museum of Zoology, the Museum of Botany and the Museum of Archaeology.

The Museum is situated in the very centre of Kiev. With a total area of 8,000 square metres (86,000 square feet), the 24 rooms of the museum contain over 30,000 exhibits that tell visitors about the origin, the structure and the evolution of the Earth, about its flora and fauna, about its past and present and about the history of the material culture of the peoples that inhabited the territory of Ukraine. The most important part of the museum is a complex of thirty dioramas dedicated to landscape and biology.

The Museum of Geology.

The Museum of Geology was founded in 1927, and in 1967 it joined the National Museum of Natural History. The holdings of the museum were based on collections amassed by the outstanding geologists Pavel Tutkovsky, Nikolay Bezborodko, and Vladimir Luchitsky. The collection of the museum contains over 50,000 samples of rocks, minerals, fossil flora and fauna. This material tells us about the material composition of the Earth's crust, about the structure, the origin and the development of our planet, about the complex phenomena and processes of its surface and depths.

The exhibitions of the Museum, which occupy 7 rooms, start from the Origin and Development of the Solar System stand and a stand that presents the meteorites of Ukraine and Russia.

The General Geological Processes room contains 22 display cases that systematically present exhibits and information about the internal and external processes that shape the appearance of the Earth and the structure of its lithosphere. One part of the room's exhibition is dedicated to the internal processes (tectonic movements, earthquakes, magma, volcanoes and rock metamorphism). The other part presents the external processes, which destroy land, change landscape and lead to new sediment depositions caused by the activities of the atmosphere, rivers, lakes, seas, underground waters, wind, ice and organisms.

The Geological History of the Ukraine's Territory room. Nineteen display cases contain the exhibits dedicated to 4 billion years of the geological history of the Ukraine's territory. The exhibition systematically shows how the territory of the country has been changing during all the geological periods, how the seas and the land have been changing, what were the flora and the fauna like. The room presents a unique sample of the huge club moss extracted from a mine of the Donbass region: a sigillaria that lived during the Carboniferous Period, over 300 million years ago. The Mineralogy section contains around 9,000 samples from fields of many various countries including 150 minerals from Ukraine.

The Petrography room has on display rocks, which is the main source of information about the geological past of the Earth. This room houses a collection of pre-Cambrian Ukrainian rocks dated using radioisotope methods.

The Useful Minerals of Ukraine room demonstrates minerals, rocks and energy sources that are used in industry and the most important Ukraine's fields that contain them.

The Sea Geological Research section introduces visitors to the material composition and the useful minerals from the beds of the Azov and Black Seas as well as from the beds of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. This section contains iron-manganese and phosphate concretions from ocean beds, chunks of mantle material raised from a depth of 5,700 metres (18,700 feet), models and maps that explain the structure of sea and ocean beds.

The museum also keeps unique collections of fossil invertebrate animals and plants; these materials are on display in the Monographical Palaeontology Collections room.

The Museum of Palaeontology.

The collection of fossil materials for this museum had been forming since as early as 1919, and in 1935 Academician Ivan Pidoplichko created the first small palaeontology exhibition in the Museum of Zoology.

The exhibitions of the Museum of Palaeontology illustrate the development of life on the Earth from its origin to our days. The rooms of the museum contain over 2,000 original exhibits; the greatest part of them was found on the territory of Ukraine. The overall holdings of the museum consist of over 1 million items.

The museum has 106 display cases, 5 artistic dioramas, and two structures out of mammoth bones.

During the Mesozoic Era, virtually all the territory of Ukraine was covered by the ancient Tethys Ocean; for this reason, the museum has very few remains of dinosaurs, but instead it has many skeletons of Palaeozoic fish and Neogene mammals. Specifically, the museum keeps a unique skeleton of Steller's sea cow; in the whole world, there exist only 25 such skeletons. Another unique exhibit is the two structures out of mammoth bones found near Mezhirich Village and Mizino Village; these are creations of Cro-Magnon people who lived on the territory of Ukraine 15,000–20,000 years ago. Reconstructed by Pidoplichko, these structures were many times put on display in Japan and Western Europe. Other interesting exhibits are skeletons of the prehistoric elephant (deinotherium), giraffa and whale, of the primeval bull (auroch) and of the mammoth. Rooms of the museum are "decorated" with imprints of plants and invertebrate animals, with shells, petrified tree trunks and small pieces of amber that contain insects.

The Museum of Zoology.

The Museum of Zoology is one of the oldest museums that constitute the National Museum of Natural History. It was founded in 1919, and in 1966 it joined the Central Museum of Natural History at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. The Museum of Zoology occupies the entire second floor of the building; its exhibitions are placed in two large rooms (the room of mammals and the room of birds) and a long gallery. The museum contains around 5,000 exhibits of animals that belong to 4,000 species. The exhibits are complemented with landscape dioramas that reconstruct most biomes (ecosystems) of the Earth.

The exhibitions of the Museum of Zoology start from the invertebrate animals (protists, sponges, coelenterata, various worms, molluscs, etc.), which is the largest (by the number of species) group of animals. The first things that attract attention of visitors are skeletons of glass sponges as well as Neptune's cup, truly a cup-like sponge. Further on, visitors get introduced to the varied world of corrals; their skeletons differ in shape and as well as in colour: white, blue, black and red. There are also lobsters and, finally, the giant Japanese crab, which is the planet's largest arthropod. A display case for arachnids presents, apart from spiders, another group of the most ancient animals that have preserved till our days, namely, xiphosura. An exhibition of insects continues the introduction to the animal kingdom. This exhibition features giant spiders and tropical butterflies. The tridacna clam, which is the largest bivalve mollusc, is on display in the entrance hall of the room. To the right of the entrance hall, there are display cases for echinoderms. The starfish, the sea lilies and the sea cucumbers resemble more plants than animals. Shells from various parts of the World Ocean are placed inside horizontal display cases, which stretch all the way to the end of the gallery. Further on, there are fish, amphibians and reptiles. Among the fish, one's attention is most attracted by the large sharks, the sturgeons and the ocean sunfish placed on walls of the museum. Among the amphibians, it is worth paying one's attention to the Chinese giant salamander that may reach a length of 180 centimetres (5.9 feet) and to the miniature Cuban whistling frog, around 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) in size. In order for visitors to be able to better see it, a special magnifying glass was installed.

One of the most interesting exhibits of the reptile exhibition is the tuatara, which is a "living fossil", a three-eyed lizard that is found only in one of the natural reserve islands of New Zealand. The representatives of all the modern groups of reptiles such as turtles, lizards, snakes and crocodiles always attract attention of visitors.

The room of birds features unique animals that may not be found on the territory of Ukraine: the lyrebird, the silver pheasant, the hummingbird, the cassowary and others. One of the display cases presents various species of the crane, which are rapidly disappearing from our planet.

Most dioramas of the Museum of Zoology are situated in the room of birds; these dioramas show various corners of Ukraine and the world: the Polesia region, the Steppes, the subtropical coast of the Crimea, the mountain valleys of the Carpathians; desert, mountain and antarctic landscapes. The largest diorama of the museum, Bird Colony, is situated in this room.

The room of mammals contains the oldest exhibit of the Museum: a wisent made over 200 years ago. This wisent was hunted down in 1780–1800 in the estate of Count Pototsky. The polar bear, the sea cow, the snow leopard as well as many rare mammals are also part of the animal exhibition.

The Museum of Botany.

The Museum of Botany was founded by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences as early as in 1921; it had been housed by the Kholodny Institute of Botany until 1966 when it joined the National Museum of Natural History. The museum's five large rooms of a total area of 1,400 square metres (15,000 square feet) contain the following exhibitions: Botany Science in Ukraine, Main Groups of the Plant World, Cell Structure and Morphology of the Flowering Plants, System and Evolution of the Flowering Plants, Plants in Human's Life, Protection of Nature, Plant World of Ukraine, Plant World of Eurasia, and Plant World of the Planet.

The museum has on display 4,000 natural exhibits, 550 photographs and 1,000 colour diagrams, drawings and maps of habitats. The Botany museum features wonderful panoramic, three-dimensional dioramas that depict many interesting things: landscapes of the Subpolar Urals; the original, special beauty of Bathyz Natural Reserve, Turkmenistan; a general appearance of the African savanna at the beginning of the dry season; a coast of a Pacific tropical island, with coconut palms and mango trees; vast steppes of South Ukraine, the high-mountain area of the Carpathians and the exotic south coast of the Crimea. Employees of the museum developed a unique technology of volume drying that allows preserving the natural form of the plants.

The Museum of Archaeology.

The Museum of Archaeology was established in 1966. The four rooms of the Museum contain over 7,000 exhibits that are related to main stages of the human's development: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Early Iron Age and the Middle Ages. The earliest materials belong to the time of the advent of humans (for example, the site of Korolevo in Transcarpathia, which is over 800 thousands years old), and the latest exhibits come from the Late Middle Ages, the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.

Most of the exhibits are unique objects of history and art. These are tools used by our ancestors from the site of Korolevo a set of painted mammoth bones interpreted as ancient musical instruments dated 15,000 years ago (the Upper Old Stone Age) from the site of Mizino, a large collection of objects (ceramics, clay sculpture, everyday-life objects of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture) that belonged to the first crop and cattle farmers on the territory of Ukraine.

The Bronze Age, when non-ferrous metallurgy developed widely, is represented by materials excavated at barrows and settlements: ceramics, bone and bronze decorations, ritual objects, including a reconstructed skull.

The materials of the Early Iron Age exhibition are dedicated to the history of people that inhabited Ukraine from the early first millennium BCE to the first centuries CE. It is this exhibition that introduces visitors to the monuments of the Cimmerian, Scythian and Sarmatian cultures. An interesting page of Ukraine's history is connected with the Greek colonisation of the north coast of the Black Sea. This period is illustrated by materials from a Greek settlement on the Berezan Island and from the cities of Olbia and Tyras.

Materials from settlements and barrows are on display in the section of the Museum dedicated to the history of ancient Slaves and Kievan Rus. The exhibition is complemented by many reconstructions, models and unique dioramas: Grave of a Noble Scythian, Kievan Russian Town of Chuchin and Kiev, the City of Grand Prince Vladimir.

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Ukraine National Academy of Sciences, Zoological Museum, National Museum of Natural History of Ukraine