The Zoological Museum of Moscow University is the oldest and largest Moscow museum, where visitors can learn about diversity of animal species of our planet, while professional zoologists can find the richest research collections. It started its history in 1791 as a Cabinet of the Natural History at Moscow University, where animals and plants, minerals and coins were collected, and the Museum became the zoological as such since the beginning of the 19th century. In 1902, the construction of the museum building in Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street was completed; this building housed all museum collections and its staff. Since 1911 to the present day, the museum display is held for the public in this building.
The Zoological Museum of Moscow University is one of the two largest and oldest natural history museums in Russia, and the amount of its research collections makes it one of ten major collections of such type in the world. The Museum history is full of scientific discoveries, acquisitions of collections, activities of the outstanding scientists and major scientific publications. Three main fields of activity have arisen gradually:
– gathering and storage of zoological collections, the unique research materials, forming a part of the country national wealth;
– research activities in the various fields of zoology: systematics and faunistic research, evolution and taxonomy, morphology and environment protection;
– education, namely, pre-school, school and university teaching, popularization of scientific knowledge in zoology and ecology, publication of the corresponding popular scientific books and study guides.
There are nearly 10,000 items exhibited in the Museum exposition, starting from the single-celled animals shown with artificial models to crocodiles, tigers, and wisents. The main display shows the diversity of the planet fauna according to the classic systematic principle: from the protozoa to the vertebrates, class after class, and order after order. The exclusion is a small but colourfully arranged new exhibition introducing the unique deep-sea ecosystems, existing owing to the chemosynthesis ("The Lower Hall" on the ground floor of the Museum). The exhibition subject of the comparative anatomy hall ("The Bony Hall", the first floor of the Museum) is the evolutionary transformations of morphological structures.
There are works of the outstanding Russian animal painters in the foyer and halls of the Museum. Here exhibitions take place regularly.
The Museum research library contains about 200,000 items including specimen from memorial book gatherings of many famous Russian zoologists. These are books, periodicals and reprints in Russian and foreign languages essential for the professional zoologists in their research work and available for schoolchildren, students and other readers who need scientific, popular science and illustrated zoological publications.
The experienced guides can help visiting groups of schoolchildren and students to study the Museum exhibition. Every year, 180,000–200,000 people visit the Museum; nearly 1,700 excursions are run covering the diverse subjects.
There are a biological hobby group for senior schoolchildren and an education centre Planetarium in the Museum. The lecturers are scientists, professionals in biology, history, arts, and architecture.
The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics (the Museum, for short) was ceremonially opened on 10th April 1981 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin. The Museum occupies the base of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, one of the most famous Moscow monuments.
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