Kunstkamera in Saint Petersburg

Wednesday, 15 February 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions
Reading Time:  4 minutes

© flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

The Kunstkamera (or Kunstkammer (German for “Culture Room” (literally) or “Art Chamber”, typically used for a “cabinet of curiosities“) is a public museum located on the Universitetskaya Embankment in Saint Petersburg, facing the Winter Palace. Its collection was first opened to the public at the Summer Palace by Peter the Great in 1714, making it Russia’s first museum. Enlarged by purchases from the Dutch collectors Albertus Seba and Frederik Ruysch, the museum was moved to its present location in 1727. Having expanded to nearly 2,000,000 items, it is formally organized as the Russian Academy of Science‘s Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, abbreviated in Russian as the МАЭ or МАЭ РАН.

The present Kunstkamera is a turreted Petrine Baroque building designed by Prussian architect Georg Johann Mattarnovy. Its foundation stone was laid in 1719 and it was fully completed in 1727. A separate building had become necessary after the purchase of large collections from the Dutch pharmacologist Albertus Seba in 1716 and the Dutch anatomist Frederik Ruysch in 1717. Examination and organization of these collections also spurred the creation of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A third acquisition came from Jacob de Wilde, a collector of gems and scientific instruments. These purchases were largely organized by Robert Erskine, Peter’s chief physician, and his secretary Johann Daniel Schumacher.

© W. Bulach/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Ad Meskens/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Crazy Clown363/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0 © Kora27/cc-by-sa-4.0
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© flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0
In the 1830s, the Kunstkamera collections were dispersed to newly established imperial museums, the most important being the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, established in 1879. It has a collection approaching 2,000,000 items and has been known as the Peter the Great Museum since 1903 in order to distinguish it from the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

Originally, there were separate museums for anthropology and ethnography, but on 5 December 1878 it was decided to merge them into a single museum with Leopold Schrenk being appointed on 10 November 1879. It was not until 1887 that the museum was finally provided with its own exhibition premises attached to Kunstkamera in Tamozhennyi pereulok. On 23 September 1889, the first exhibition of the unified Museum was opened.

One of the most gruesome exhibits is the head of Willem Mons, brother of Anna Mons. In 1747 some objects were lost in a fire. The museum houses 78 watercolours by the Peruvian artist Pancho Fierro, the largest collection outside Peru. These were brought back by Schrenk following his visit there in 1854.

Read more on Wikipedia Kunstkamera (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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