The Museum of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences is one of the oldest museums in Russia. History of the museum is connected with the Kunstkamera, the first Russian museum established by Peter the Great in 1714.
In 1832, the independent Zoological Museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences appeared on the basis of zoological collections of the Kunstkamera. It is considered to be the year of its foundation. Later, in 1930, the museum was reorganized to the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences, now the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).
The Zoological Museum of the Zoological Institute of the RAS is one of the largest museum of its kind in the world and Russia. Now its expositions take most of the second floor of the extensive building of the Zoological Institute as well as choirs of the first hall. About 30 thousand examples of animals from all over the world are exhibited here. The total square of the exhibition is 6 ths. sq. m. The Museum is an exhibition department of the Institute.
Today the Zoological Institute of the RAS and its museum is one the largest collections of animals all over the world. The Institute funds number about 50 mln. items. The Museum's, and later the Institute's, collections were divided into exhibitory and fund items more than a hundred years ago and are still kept that way.
At first the Museum occupied the rooms of the Museum wing of the Academy. Fast growing collections of the Museum required more space. It was provided in 1893. The Museum and later the Institute are still situated in this building near the Palace Bridge.
The history of the building has many interesting pages preceding the establishment of the Museum. It took great money and efforts to adapt it for the Museum, transport collections and make a new exposition. Only in 7 years, on February 6, 1901, in the presence of the Russian Emperor Nicolay II, numerous members of his Crown family and government men, the Museum was opened for visitors again.
The Museum was constantly replenished with new collections. It was made by means of three main resources: expeditions of Russian scientists, donations from private citizens from all over Russia and abroad, and also purchase and exchange. When the expositions were set in the new building, great attention was paid to creation of so-called biological groups, i.e. cases with animals in their natural habitat. This museum innovation significantly increased the educative value of the expositions.
From the first days of the Museum and till now the most part of the materials has been made as stuffed animals or birds to exhibit them in the Museum. Great artists, who established the leading Russian Petersburg school of taxidermy, worked in the Museum. Now there is its own taxidermy workshop in the Museum.
The Zoological Museum is the largest center of zoological and ecological education in the North West of Russia. Tours, guided by the Museum specialists, cover all current problems of zoology and aimed at people of all ages: from small children to students who specialize in biology and medicine. About 500 ths. people visit the Museum annually.
There are temporary exhibitions hold in the Museum. The Museum takes part in exhibitions arranged abroad as well. One of the most popular expositions is that of mammoths and their fauna. Unique exhibits of this section are famous all over the world.
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