The KUNSTKAMMER was open in the Kikin's palace in Sankt Petersburg in in 1719.
Tzar Peter the Great issued a special order. It was written there: ".....and then His Majesty has ordered to librarian Shumakher subordinated to the custodian of above mentioned Kunstkammer Areskin : since all things here established and arranged in proper order therefore let in anybody who wants to see the above mentioned Kunstkammer and guide them demonstrating and explaining the things."
The admission to the Kunstkammer had been free of charge. Moreover since 1724 a special budget up to 400 rubles a year was arranged for entertainment of visiting public in order of natural science popularization This time the collection grow with specimens which were presenter to Russian Emperor Court or to Tzar Peter the Great personally. For example in 1718 the King of Sweden gave Czar Peter I a magnificent example of wire silver from the royal silver mines at Kongsberg, Norway, to add to this collection. This specimen called "Silver Horn" and is about 16 cm long. A couple of private collection was acquired: from Ja. Bruss, R. Areskin (bought in 1726) and other.
The laboratories and libraries were arranged in Kunstkammer. It was growing
really quick that's why new building was built in 1727.
Increased mining activity in Russia helped collection to grow as mining companies began sending samples to the Mineral cabinet from new discoveries in Urals, Altay, Transbaikal and other regions of Russia. By 1745 the collection had grown to include more then 3000 minerals, fossils, gems and rocks. By this time it was already one of most exciting Europe collection with a great aesthetic and scientific value.
This great quantity of material required sorting and cataloging.
First to be appointed to the task of organizing the mineral cabinet was German
scientist Johann Gmelin (1709-1755).
Thereafter, Mikhail V. Lomonosov, who had just completed his studies in Germany, continued the work. For almost five years, Lomonosov sorted out the collection and compiled a catalogue which was published in 1745. The catalogue which was published in 1745, listed some 3 000 samples mentioned above.
After renovation of the Kunstkammer building in 1766, the collection again
grew -thanks to the efforts of researcher P. S. Pallas and extensive geological
exploration work. Under a government decree, mineral and ore samples were collected
from existing mining deposits
Petr Simon Pallas (1741-1811)
By 1767 academician P.S.Pallas (1741 -1811) - famous scientist and traveler became a chief of Mineral cabinet.
He was taking part in some of as named Great Siberian expeditions. The second
part of 18th century was really great time of geographical and geological
prospecting of eastern parts of Russia. The expeditions sometimes were continuing
more then ten years and the material collected enriched a lot museum collections.
As an example a big piece of iron-stone meteorite (687 kg) was found by P.S.
Pallas in Siberia. Now it's called "Pallas iron".
There were delivered to museum about 2000 specimens collected
Purchases were also made from private collections. In 1784, an interesting national collection of minerals was purchased from the estate of A.A. Nartov (former president of Berg College).
Whole period up to the end of 19th century was not really brilliant. There weren't big expedition work and collection mostly grow by purchasing private collections. Among noticeable acquisitions the collections of I.P.Balashov (1868), S.G.Stroganov (1877), A.F. Folbort (1877) and other.
The museum gradually became oriented toward geology and paleontology and finally
in 1898 was renamed to the "Geological Museum", which he became in
The mineral collection and exhibits were diminished, being replaced by rock specimens and fossil exhibits.
In 1912, the name was changed to "The Museum of Geology and Mineralogy"
and was dedicated to Peter the Great. The mineral research laboratory was founded
and research trips were organized to the Urals, Siberia and Transbaikal.
During that time a few large collections were purchased. Deserving of particular mention was A. P. Kochubey's collection of over 2700 mineral specimens from Russian and foreign deposits which his heirs had moved to Austria.
F.N. Chernyshev and V. I. Vernadsky vigorously redressed the situation when in 1912 Russia purchased this collection for 160 000 rubies for the Academy of Sciences at a Viennese auction. The collection was thereafter moved in 1914 to the Museum of Mineralogy.
V.I.Vernadskiy engaged to museum many young, talented and energetic scientist.
Among them were future directors of the museum A.E.Fersman, V.I.Kryzhanovskiy.
After about 100 years break V.Vernadskiy restart work on systematization museum funds and exhibits. Museum funds were separating to 6 main collection: systematic collection, crystal collection, pseudomorph collection, locality collection, gem collection and meteoritic collection. The system of mineralogy by D.Dana was used for systematic collection. Inventory books and cards catalogs were renovated or made again.
Big achievements were also in scientific work. The new chemical, spectrum and
other laboratories were arranged where the minerals of rare and radioactive
elements were investigated. The expeditions to Urals, Transbaikal were taking
place nearly every year. The magazine "Transactions of Peter the Great
Geological Museum" was founded.
For space mineralogy investigation L.A.Kulik (1883 -1942) was engaged and made a lot for developing meteoritic science.
Successful museum work was interrupted by First World War and then by Revolution in 1917.
On 1919, Academic Alexander Fersman was appointed Director of the Museum of Mineralogy. Under his leadership museum activities were directed towards solving practical economic problems, researching the country's mineral deposits and the development of research and laboratory techniques by adopting the latest methods.
Museum expeditions to Kola Peninsula in 1919-1922 leaded to discovery of the biggest for that time apatite deposit in Khibina mountains. The exploration of this deposit was completely started in 1929. It was found also a number of new minerals many of those were named in honor of museum workers. Museum employees were also taking part in Tadjik-Pamiri Expedition - organization which prospected and discover many mineral deposits in Central Asia. The museum collections enriched a lot with minerals found during those expeditions.
The expeditions were also arranged to Siberia, Caucasus and discover a few new mining regions. So that was really great time in museum history.
The acquisition many of rather interesting articles made of stones and some
gemstones directly related with A.E.Fersman. Having some influence on communist
administration he could save some treasures expropriated from reach class after
revolution so it wasn't sold abroad.
Famous jeweler K.Faberge presented trough A.E.Fersman his private collection of gemstones to museum before emigration from Russia in 1919.
As his teacher V.I.Vernadskiy academician A.E.Fersman engaged to museum so many talented scientist that the whole institute was arranged in 1930 on the museum base. It was named the "Institute for Mineralogy and Geochemistry", which in 1932 was renamed the "Geochemical, Mineralogical and Crystallographic Institute" and dedicated to M.V. Lomonosov. Academician A.E. Fersman was appointed its director.
Another group of scientist from museum who was study crystals grow and crystallochemistry A.V. Shubnikov, N.V.Belov and other was separated to the institute of crystallography.
The relocation and setting up of the exhibition took 3 years of energetic work. In 1936 -1937 the museum organized independent exhibitions in Moscow.
Museum was placed to a historical building which represents Moscow's architecture of the beginning 19 century (architecture E.Turin) which was built for Count Orlov-Chesmensky as a manege to accommodate a riding hall and stables. Under Emperor Nicholas I the building was served as an out of town dancing hall for Russian Court.
After setting the exhibits museum was open in 1937 to the time of XVII International Geological Congress in Moscow.
The movement didn't interrupt too much museum expedition and work with collections. By the beginning Second World War for Soviet Union about 80000 specimens were calculated in museum collections.
When the war began in 1941 the most valuable part of collection was evacuated from Moscow and returned at 1944.
In 1945 died academicians V.I.Vernadskiy and A.E.Fersman. The director's position was delivered to V.I. Kryzhanovskiy (1881-1947) who was actually working as an executive director of museum while A.E.Fersman was leading both institute and museum. He made a huge work for an arrangement mineral exchange and was known as a brilliant lector.
Couple years 1947-1953 the museum director was D.S.Belyankin (1876 -1953). He renewed publishing of museum magazine (the publishing was interrupted by the war).
In 1955 in honor of academician A.E.Fersman achievements museum was renamed to Fersman Mineralogical Museum.
Yu.L. Orlov became a director in 1976 after G.P.Barsanov became a head of mineralogy chair in Moscow University. His activity was mainly related to investigations of diamonds. Museum got a nice collection of diamonds with inclusions.
A special merit of A.Godovikov in engaging another
outstanding Russian mineralogist V.I.Stepanov to work in museum. V.I.Stepanov
came with collection which he collected about 40 years. The main part of collection
consisted of 15000 specimens. Before movement to Fersman museum collection was
kept in institute of Mineralogy and Geochemistry of rare elements; in the basement
in rather dangerous situation.
This collection contained more than 100 mineral species which were absent in museum before. Moreover it contain huge amount specimens from the deposits completely mined out. This collection is actually one the pearl of our museum.
This thanks to A.Godovikov and V.I.Stepanov in period 1983-1985 museum collection increased more than on 25000 specimens - valuable ones.