State Historical Museum

State Historical Museum

Now it seems incredible, but once Soviet architects had such an idea – to demolish the famous historical museum from Red Square and put a monument in its place in honor of the victory over the Nazis (another option is to open the square for the passage of troops). Fortunately, the idea did not work, the Victory Monument eventually appeared on Poklonnaya Hill (the famous stele with the goddess Nika at the top), and the State Historical Museum in Moscow remained in its place, inscribed in the architecture of Red Square, as was conceived during its construction in 1875 -1883 years. More than 1.2 million people visit his exhibitions every year.


The group of historians who came up with the State Historical Museum in Moscow really wanted to create such a place where anyone could come and see that “not from yesterday, intelligent life began in our country.” To see, so to speak, a retrospective.

Having received the imperial consent for the construction, at first they planned to build a museum near the walls of the Kremlin (where the mausoleum now stands). But in April 1874, the city council decided to allocate a place where the main pharmacy was located. The pharmacy was demolished – the State Historical Museum was built. Here we still observe it.

The construction project was named “Fatherland”. 260 bricklayers and more than 300 auxiliary workers were engaged in bricklaying. Gilded metal sculptures in the form of heraldic symbols of the imperial house – lions, unicorns, eagles were erected on the spiers of the towers. Famous masters were invited to decorate the halls – Viktor Vasnetsov, Valentin Serov, Ivan Aivazovsky, Ilya Repin … It turned out very beautifully. They wanted to expand the museum – but the First World War prevented it. And then the revolution.

State Historical Museum
Museum entrance


State Historical Museum in Moscow

They remember the following story: once a soldier entered the open halls of the museum and began to shout: “So this is where our labor pennies are spent: they build millions of houses to store filthy shards and worthless papers!” The people supported the anger of their representative. And the hour is uneven – they would have demolished the museum without leaving brick on brick. But, fortunately, the People’s Commissar of Education Lunacharsky and Lenin himself intervened – they were not allowed to destroy it.

In the 1920s-1930s, the museum was only replenished – at the expense of closed monasteries, churches, nationalized estates. But at the same time, he lost some of the most beautiful internal stucco molding (the red government decided: why the proletariat needs such pretentiousness?) And weathercocks – they were restored only in the 1990s.

Today the State Historical Museum in Moscow is the largest in Russia. It also has no less famous branches: the Intercession Cathedral on Red Square (better known as the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed), the chambers of the Romanov boyars on Varvarka, the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812 in the former building of the Moscow City Duma (here, as those who “ originally from the USSR “, used to be the Lenin Museum).

The State Historical Museum is the only metropolitan museum that continued to operate even during the siege of Moscow in the 1940s. New exhibitions dedicated to military operations were opened, exhibits for them were brought directly from the front.

In 2007, for the first time in the history of the museum, all 40 halls were opened for visiting. The exposition shows our history from ancient times to the beginning of the 20th century. Plus there is a gorgeous exhibition on gold, its use in church art, in kitchen utensils.

State Historical Museum

What to watch

“Gold pantry”. Each room is dedicated to a specific area of gold application. There are jewelry of incredible beauty – from ancient times to the end of the 20th century. Gold as an imperishable metal was used in the decoration of temples. A very rich setting of the icon of the Smolensk Mother of God (it can be seen at the exhibition) was ordered at one time by the boyar Khitrovo, who in the 17th century headed the Armory. He brought this icon as a gift to the Novodevichy Convent after the death of his daughter. And … he died a few days later.

But before us is like a lace chalice – a vessel for Christian worship. The effect of lace also gives gold: it turns out that from one gram of this precious metal, you can pull out a thread as thick as a human hair and up to a kilometer, or even up to two! It was from such a wire that the finest patterns were laid out.

Hall 13, dedicated to the formation of a unified Russian state. No wonder its vaults and window openings are painted based on Monomakh’s hat.
Weapons and armor of Alexander Nevsky from the Battle on the Ice.

Ivan the Terrible’s hair shirt (this is such a rough penitential dress in which the formidable tsar atoned for sins).
A unique exhibit is considered to be a two-meter floor globe made by the cartographer Blau at the end of the 18th century. Peter I saw him somewhere in Europe, was amazed and ordered to buy a western wonder.
In total, the museum has a collection of 5 million items and 14 million sheets of documents. Not all of them, of course, are on display, but the numbers, you see, are impressive.

Did you like the article? Share
Russian culture