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Historical Museum of Dnepropetrovsk, Historical Museum named after D. I. Yavornytsky (Dnepropetrovsk)

16 Karla Marksa Avenue, Dnepropetrovsk (tel.: +38 056 246-34-22), Metro station: "Vokzalnaya".

Map

http://www.museum.dp.ua

The Public Museum of Yekaterinoslav Governorate was founded in February of 1849, in Yekaterinoslav (the contemporary name of Dnepropetrovsk), at the initiative of Yakov Grakhov, the director of a local gymnasium, and with the support of the governor A. Fabr; it was the first museum in the region, and it was situated in the Potyomkin Palace, which belonged to the Nobility Assembly of Yekaterinoslav Governorate. At that time, according to contemporaries, Yekaterinoslav was a peculiar small town on the high, right bank of the Dnieper River; the town had straight, wide streets, a monument to Catherine the Great near a beautiful, steeple-roofed cathedral and multiple stone and wooden structures.

However, the town dwellers led an extremely boring life, typical of Russia's periphery. This is why the ethnographer and archaeologist Aleksandr Tereshchenko, while travelling around the Novorossiya region in 1852, was so surprised to discover a museum in Yekaterinoslav that possessed an amazing collection of ancient objects.

During the Crimean War, when the Potyomkin Palace was occupied by a military hospital, the museum was situated in the building of Yekaterinoslav Classical Gymnasium for Boys (later, the block of the Medical Academy in Oktyabrskaya Square), which housed it on the permanent basis until the early 20th century.

Alongside archaeological finds, stone statues and local antiques, the museum displayed relics of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, coins of Russian and other countries as well as samples of various rocks and palaeontological remains. A mummy of an Egyptian woman with a child was considered the most important exhibit; according to a legend, this mummy (which is still kept at the museum) had been brought from Egypt by the governor Fabr.

The best times for the Public Museum of Yekaterinoslav Governorate was its first decade when, enthusiastic about the new idea, town dwellers were interested in history and antiques, were bringing objects to the Museum and were donating money for equipping showcases and for other acquisitions. However, during the following years (1860–1900), the museum did not receive any financial support from authorities and led a wretched existence, resembling a cabinet of an educational institution. At the same time, in Yekaterinoslav Governorate, some of the nobility, merchants and intelligentsia (for example, teachers and doctors), cabinets of zemstvo institutions (a form of local self-government) and educational institutions possessed interesting and varied collections of historical and natural antiques and rarities, of numismatics and painting.

One of the largest and most famous such collection was the collection of Aleksandr Pol, an honorary citizen of Yekaterinoslav, that amounted to 4,770 items. In 1887, Pol opened the first city's private museum, which occupied 4 rooms of his own house in Sobornaya Square (later renamed Oktyabrskaya Square; in 1998, a commemorative plaque was installed at the former Pol's house). Pol's museum, which even employed a special curator and guide, consisted of 7 departments. A significant part of materials comprised archaeological finds that Pol had discovered in barrows and other burial grounds in Yekaterinoslav Governorate, in particular in the Krivorozhye region. Contemporaries were amazed by relics of the Zaporozhian Cossacks; Pol maintainted special attitude towards these relics, because Pavel Polubotok, a hetman (head) of the autonomous Zaporozhian Host, was his ancestor in the maternal line. The museum also possessed Egyptian antiques, cult objects and coins of all the countries in the world from various times (i.e., it was a kind of small kunstkammer). After Pol died in 1890, the community of Yekaterinoslav proposed to create a governorate-level museum named after him, a kind of monument to Pol. This issue was very important, because Pol's relatives did not have money to maintain the unique collection and started selling items from it. Even when Paul, the owner, was still alive, the value of the collection was estimated at 200,000 silver roubles.

The authors of the proposal had to spend almost a decade in order to convince the local authorities and the community of the nobility that it was necessary to found the museum; they also had to spend that time to get the research and academic community as well as the community of Yekaterinoslav interested in this good deed. Finally, the Pol Museum of the Region (the Museum, for short) was solemnly opened on 6th May 1902, in the building of the School of Commerce; the Museum would soon move to the building of the Potyomkin Palace. Gradually, many new collections joined the Museum such as the collections of the Public Museum of Yekaterinoslav Governorate (kept in the Classical Gymnasium), of Pol's private museum, of Dmitry Yavornitsky (the director of the museum in 1902–1933), Yekaterina Melnik-Antonovich, Vladimir Antonovich, S. Broditsky, I. Akinfiyev, S. Suchkov, A. Sinyavsky, G. Alekseyev, Peter von Hahn, V. Levensohn, P. Pronin and many others.

In 1905, a new building was constructed for the Museum, under supervision of the architects G. Sandetsky and G. Panafutin; the building was modelled on Hoffmann's house in Berlin. By the end of its first decade, the Museum had grown from a small collection of 300 items to a large holding of almost 10,000 items (divided into 9 departments) containing archaeological finds of various time periods and cultures; relics of the Zaporozhian Cossacks; church antiques; ethnographic, numismatic and painting objects; products of folk decorative art; books, documents and photographic materials.

It it during this period of time that the Museum, headed by Yavornitsky, became a bright gem, a real treasury of historical and natural riches that contained monuments of the region and the world culture. As Vladimir Gilyarovsky wrote: "This museum is the beauty of entire Ukraine..." In 1905 and 1910, Yavornitsky published two catalogues of museum collections and several reports on activities of the Museum.

In 1917–1923 (having been renamed the first People's Museum of the Yekaterinoslav Region), the holdings of the Museum were enlarged with many private collections, objects from homes of the nobility, zemstvo institutions, while the director made maximum effort to preserve the museum's holdings and buildings from destruction and looting.

The Museum (then called the Historical and Archaeological Museum of Dnepropetrovsk Region) enriched significantly in 1927–1932, when Yavornitsky headed the archaeological expedition of Dneprostroy, a large construction company. The museum received 40,000 archaeological objects discovered on a huge area, where it was planned to construct the DneproGES (Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Station) and to set up an artificial sea. However, the Museum did not manage to scientifically process and register the objects before the Second World War; this was to a large extent due to the fact that in 1933 Yavornitsky and many other archaeology experts and historians were fired from the museum after having been accused of "counter-revolutionary activities" and the "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism". Only in 1940, after Yavornitsky had died, his name was "given back" to the Museum, which was renamed the Yavornitsky Historical Museum of Dnepropetrovsk.

During the Nazi German occupation, the Museum suffered enormous losses. The building of the Museum was occupied by Klostermann, the Stadtkommisar of the city, while exhibits (in bad, rainy weather) were moved to a dilapidated building of the Museum of Art (at 21 Shevchenko Street); the museum objects that had been evacuated to the east were almost all lost, and those that had remained in the city were taken by the Germans. Only a small part of the materials was saved by M. Bely and P. Duz, technicians of the Museum.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Museum underwent a real renaissance: in 1975, the Battle of the Dnieper diorama was opened; in May of 1977, a new exhibition on the history of the region from the ancient to the modern times was opened in December of 1977, an exhibition of a museum of religion and atheism was opened (in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration); in 1982, the department of literature was established; in 1988, works on creation of the Museum of Literary Transnistria started in the Inzov House (64 Karla Marksa Avenue); in November 1988, the Memorial House Museum of Academician Yavornitsky was opened to the public.

In 1979, a creative team was awarded the Shevchenko State Prize of the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic for the complex of the Battle of the Dnieper diorama and for the rooms of the Museum; the team consisted of A. Vatchenko, the director of the Museum; V. Zuyev, an architect; N. But and N. Ovechkina, artists at the Grekov Studio of Military Artists; V. Proskudo, a chief research assistant at the Museum; V. Rivin and V. Korotkov, artist designers at the Saint Petersburg Combine of Painting and Design Art. In the 1990s, the Museum perfected its exhibitions by having significantly enlarged and modified them in accordance with a new conception of the history of Ukraine and of the region and in accordance with discovered historical sources of all kinds.

The holdings of the Museum contain over 250,000 museum objects. Among them are archaeological monuments, relics of the Zaporozhian Cossacks; 16th and 17th century old-print editions; the 18th, 19th and early 20th century editions; a cult collection; porcelain, clocks, furniture, weapons and many other monuments of history and culture. During its entire history that spans 150 years, the Museum has always been unique of its kinds in Dnepropetrovsk Region as a centre of preservation, study and popularisation of monuments of national and global significance; and as a centre of teaching historical consciousness, national dignity, attitude of care towards one's history and human values.

Exhaustive study of the museum's holdings and large-scale restoration of museum objects helped employees of the museum to create a number of exhibitions comprising the Treasury of Dmitry Yavornitsky series. Clocks, porcelain, books, ceramics, icons, paintings, clothes, stone works, cult objects, monuments of Eastern cultures, archaeological and heraldic materials — this is an incomplete list of the collections that have lately been presented by the museum to the public.

There are 7 rooms in the Museum:
Room No. 1: The Ancient History of the Region
Room No. 2: The Zaporozhian Cossacks
Room No. 3: The 19th Century Yekaterinoslav Region
Room No. 4: The Industrial Revolution
Room No. 5: The 1917–1920 Civil War
Room No. 6: Our Region in 1921–1941
Room No. 7: The Second World War

Various collections, with topics ranging from ancient, primitive weapons to the modern times, are presented at the Museum. Cuman barrow stelae and the Kernosovka Idol are among unique exhibits.

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Historical Museum of Dnepropetrovsk, Historical Museum named after D. I. Yavornytsky

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