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Russian circumnavigations of the world and collections of the Kunstkamera

The first Russian overseas expedition was organized by the Russian government with the purpose of delivering supplies and materials to the Russian America for the Russian-American Company, development of Russian trade and navigation in the Northwest area of the Pacific Ocean.  In addition to exploratory goals, the expedition was meant to establish diplomatic relations with Japan.  N.P. Rezanov was appointed the Authorized Representative of the Russian-American Company in the colonies and the head of the mission to Japan. Two ships, Neva and Nadezhda, under command of A.J. Krusenstern and Yu. F. Lisyansky took part in the 1803-1806 voyage. Besides economic and political tasks, the expedition was carrying out vast scientific studies, gathered botanic and zoological, entomological, mineralogical, ethnographical collections which came to the collection of the Kunstkamera of the Academy of Sciences.

The second Russian circumnavigation (1819 – 1821), in the course of which the Antarctic Continent was discovered, was captained by Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen  The voyage was going on the Vostok and Mirny sloops.  The expedition had also received Academy’s instructions for the conduct of scientific research in the places of their navigation.  

Captain Otto von Kotzebue became commander of the third Russian circumnavigation (1823-1826) committed on the Predpriyatie ship; it resulted with discovery of numerous islands in the Pacific Ocean.  

A part of the collections from these journeys was immediately transferred to the Kunstkamera.  At the same time, on April 4, 1805, by an order of Alexander I, a museum was established at the State Admiralty Department. Participants of the circumnavigations were donating collections from the Russian America, Australia, archipelagoes of the Pacific and Indian Oceans to it. The Museum of the Admiralty Department received collections from navigators: Yu. F. Lisyansky, S.G. Scott, F.F. Bellingshausen, F.F. Wrangell, A.J. Krusenstern, V.M. Golovnin, M.P. Lazarev, S.P. Khrushchev,  L.A. Hagenmeister, M.M. Muraviev. In 1827, by Nickolas I’s order, the Museum of the Admiralty Department was dissolved and its collections transferred to the Kunstkamera.