Virtual Tour of the Mining Museum in St. Petersburg
The Mining Museum in St. Petersburg is three years older than America, while Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, can be considered the Museum's rightful mother. Now by its size, it is the world's third-largest natural-scientific exposition gathered in a building designed by Russian architect Andrey Voronikhin.
Replenishing of the Museum's collection was a matter of great importance since the day of its foundation. Under a decree of Catherine II, all owners of mining enterprises and deposits in Russia were obliged to send the most outstanding samples of minerals, ores and factory products to the Museum.
Besides, artefacts were coming from private collections of reigning dynasties and researchers; they were as well purchased at international exhibitions and obtained from collectors.
On visiting the Museum in 1777, Gustav III, King of Sweden, became so delighted with what he saw that he gifted to it 202 samples of Swedish ores, salts, and rocks.
The Mining Museum, however, had to face tough times since the wars, evacuations, and natural disasters took place. Thus, at the start of the Patriotic War of 1812, valuable items were shipped from St. Petersburg by water and sent to the Svir, a river in Leningrad Oblast, Russia. Those valuables were retrieved only a year later, and, what is even more surprising, almost all pieces remained intact, with only a few of them being slightly damaged due to dampness.
Then in 1918, the Soviet government was relocated from Petrograd to Moscow, and in a brief time, some of the Mining Museum's most valuable objects were transferred to the Diamond Fund. Nowadays, among the Museum's collection are more than 230,000 exhibits stored in twenty halls.
The Mining Museum's collection of minerals is one of the largest worldwide. Expositions are arranged based on the chemical structure of minerals, starting from the simpler ones, like native elements, and ending with more complex elements, such as silicates.
The world's largest preserved chunk of Ural malachite, the largest-ever of copper nuggets found in Russia, a dark-green slab of 'singing' nephrite - all these and other items are on display here.
The Mining Museum's palaeontological collection comprises rare showpieces, including those on the palaeontology of invertebrates, vertebrates, and palaeobotany, a science discipline the foundation for which was laid by Ivan Yefremov, science fiction author and Professor at the Mining Institute. The Museum's exhibition of meteorites houses over 800 samples and is believed to be one of the world's oldest meteorite collections - it will turn 200 years old in 2022.
One of the world's best collections of metal items manufactured both in Russia and abroad, as well as unique cutting weapons originating from the 19th century, is on display at the Museum.
In terms of historical value, scale, and quality of exhibits, the Museum's collection of models, maquettes, and prototypes of mining and engineering equipment has no equal globally.