Local Lore, Museums of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Local Lore, Museums of


research and cultural-educational institutions that collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and make known to the public historical monuments, natural-science and art collections, and works of folk art of particular geographic or administrative regions. Museums of local lore are among the most widespread of the comprehensive (nonspecialized) museums.

In Russia the origin of local comprehensive museums dates from the late 18th century and early 19th, when they were established at educational institutions, repositories of state property, and branches of the Russian Geographical Society. In the mid-19th century there were 12 such museums, in Barnaul, Irkutsk, Minusinsk, Krasnoiarsk, Orenburg, Tbilisi, and elsewhere. The main network of local lore museums was established in the postreform period. By the early 20th century there were 60 museums of local lore in provincial and district centers. Only a few museums of this type existed in the national regions: 14 in the Ukraine and Moldavia, two in Transcaucasia, and four in Middle Asia.

After the 1917 October Revolution, the Leninist nationality policy implemented by the Communist Party and the Soviet government promoted the growth of museums of local lore. They were established chiefly in areas that had previously been culturally deprived, for example, the Mordovian Museum in Saransk, the Gorno-Mari Museum in Koz’modem’iansk, the Chuvash Museum in Cheboksary, and the Namangan Museum in Uzbekistan. In the first five years of Soviet rule more than 250 local lore museums were organized. The overall advancement of the local lore movement promoted the development of these museums. The Central Bureau for the Study of Local Lore was created in 1920, and the Research Institute of Methods of Local Lore was founded in 1931. The magazines Kraevedenie and Sovetskoe kraevedenie appeared at this time, and many bibliographies of local lore were compiled.

During the prewar five-year plans (1929-40) an extensive net-work of museums of local lore was created in all Union republics. In 1940 there were more than 400 such museums. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) the fascist German invaders inflicted enormous damage on the museums in occupied territory. Valuable collections were plundered and many regional museums were destroyed. In the postwar years the network of museums of local lore was rebuilt, and by 1970 there were 493 state local lore museums. The museums have divisions devoted to the region’s physical features, to the history of the prerevolutionary period, and to the history of Soviet society; some museums also have art, literary, and ethnographic sections. Many regional museums publish catalogs, guidebooks, writings of historical importance, and Kraevedcheskie zapiski (Local Lore Transactions).

Abroad, comprehensive local museums are called regional museums.


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Mezentseva, G. G. Muzei Ukrainy. Kiev, 1959.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.