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Johann Daniel Schumacher

Johann Daniel Schumacher (1690 – 1761), a native of Colmar (French province of Alsace) studied at the University of Strasbourg. In 1714, he was admitted to the Russian service as a Secretary on Foreign Correspondence at the Apothecary (later on, Medical) Chancellery.  By order of R. Erskine, President of the Apothecary Chancellery, who was in charge of “looking after” the Kunstkamera and the Library, he started working with Peter I’s library and, later on, his collections as well. In the end of 1718, Chief Physician of Peter I L.L. Blumentrost reported to the Tsar about the Kunstkamera employees among whom the first to list was “Yagan Daniel Schumacher, librarian and superintendent of all sorts of rarities and naturalia.”

In 1721-1722, Schumacher visited Europe (France, Germany, Holland, England) to establish contacts on behalf of the Tsar with scholars, as well as acquire books and museum collections. Under J.D. Schumacher’s contract dated January 1, 1724, he was obliged to “govern the library and kunst-kammer and keep everything in good order, both in the library and kunst-kammer, and establish catalogues of books in the library and of all sorts of naturalia and artificialia staying in the kunst-kammer.”  

Since that time, Schumacher, as the Secretary of the Academy of Sciences’ Chancellery, was, essentially, the only master of the Kunstkamera: he allocated finances, admitted exhibits, showed the library and the museum to important guests.  His authority at the court could not be undermined by either professors’ complaints or litigation cases, or even the disastrous for the museum fire of 1747.  Thanks to J.D. Schumacher’s efforts, Kunstkamera’s catalogue Musei imperialis Pepropolitani vol.1,2 and the album of engravings Chambers of the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences, the Library and the Kunstkamera (1741; 1744) were published.

Regretfully, not a single portrait of J. Schumacher has survived, but the Academy of Sciences has a number of documents he wrote with his autographs.