Historical Museum

Historical museum

A museum, which may or may not be housed in a historic building, whose primary purpose is the interpretation of history. Its collections may include objects, sites and structures related to persons and events significant in history.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Historical Museum


in Moscow, the central state museum encompassing the history of the USSR from ancient times to the Great October Socialist Revolution.

The Historical Museum was founded in 1872, and the building housing it on Red Square was constructed from 1875 to 1881 (architect, V. O. Shervud; engineer, A. A. Semenov). It was opened in 1883. The Historical Museum is the largest depository of monuments of the history and culture of the peoples of the Soviet Union. As of Jan. 1, 1972, its archives contained approximately 4 million objects and over 45,000 storage units of archival materials. The Historical Museum contains the richest archaeological collection in the USSR; a large numismatic study room; valuable collections of Russian, Eastern, and Western weapons, Russian and imported fabrics and clothing, and articles of precious and nonprecious metals, glass, ceramics, bone, and wood; a world-renowned collection of manuscripts and old printed books; historical archives of everyday life; decorative materials of an iconographic and everyday character; and a significant collection of old Russian paintings, architectural drawings, and cartographic materials of the 16th through the 20th centuries. The collection includes the following unique artifacts: the Borodino (Bessarabian) treasure of the second millennium B.C., the Taman sarcophagus of the third century B.C., golden objects from the Kopenskii Chaatas (seventh and eighth centuries A.D.), Sviatoslav’s miscellany of 1073, Greek manuscripts of the sixth through the 17th centuries, Novgorod birch documents of the 11th through the 15th centuries, the gospels of Mstislav of the 12th century, and the Nikon Chronicle of the 16th century. The collection also contains monuments connected with important historical figures and events, including a vast collection on the Patriotic War of 1812 and the Sevastopol’ defense of 1854–55 and personal objects of M. I. Kutuzov, I. S. Turgenev, A. I. Herzen, V. G. Belinskii, and N. G. Chernyshevskii among others. Over 500 archaeological expeditions and more than 200 domestic-history expeditions were conducted from 1923 to 1972 to add to the stock of the museum’s collection. Thematic expositions and a permanent exhibition, “The Soviet People During the Period of the Large-scale Construction of Communism,” are accommodated in the 48 halls of the Historical Museum. Temporary thematic exhibitions are also organized.

Branches of the Historical Museum in Moscow include monuments of Russian architecture of the 16th-18th centuries. Among these are the Pokrovskii Cathedral (St. Basil’s Cathedral), Novodevich’e Nunnery, the Museum of Architecture and Painting of the 17th century, the Church of the Trinity in Nikit-niki, and the “Palaces of the 16th—17th Century in the Zariad’e” Museum of Applied Arts, on Razin Street. Over 2 million persons visited the museum and its branches in 1971. Approximately 15,000 tours are conducted annually. There are lecture halls in the museum. The archives of the Historical Museum are used in large-scale publication and research work on problems of the history of the USSR and on the archaeology and the history of the material culture of the peoples of the Soviet Union. The Historical Museum was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1972, on the 100th anniversary of its founding.


Opisaniia pamiatnikov, issues 1–3. Moscow, 1896–1903.
Otchety s prilozheniiami (1883–1925).
Trudy (since 1926).
Ezhegodnik (since 1960).
Pamiatniki kul’tury (a series; since 1949).


Ocherki istorii muzeinogo dela v Rossii. Moscow, 1960–61.(Tr. Nil muzeevedeniia, issues 2–3).
PutevodileVpo ekspozitsii: Gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii muzei. Moscow, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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