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The Kunstkamera building

The Museum is located in two buildings: the Kunstkamera edifice and attached to it Museum Wing built in 1887.

The Kunstkamera building was erected in the Baroque style of Peter’s era. This was the first museum building in Russia and, it seems, one of the oldest in the world purposely constructed for a museum. A tower with an armillary sphere, a model of the planetary system, crowned the building.

According to the legend, it was Peter I who had chosen the site for the construction. He noticed an uncommon pine tree, the peculiar part of which is still exhibited in the museum. The initial layout of the building was, most likely, composed by architect Andreas Schlüter; further on, it was developed on the basis of his drawings by G.J. Mattarnovi with personal input of Peter I. Later on, architects N. Harbel and G. Chiavery were directing construction works. The Kunstkamera and the Library opened doors for the public on November 25th, 1728. Architect M. Zemtsov had completed the full complex of works in the Kunstkamera’s building only by 1734. After the fire in the Kunstkamera in 1747, decorative refurnishing of several Kunstkamera rooms was accomplished.  Thus, in 1757, painter G. Gianni created a molded ornament on the ceiling of the second-floor hall in the Eastern wing (the Library Hall; now, the Baroque Hall where the exhibition “The first Scientific Collections of the Kunstkamera” are located).  In the 1770s, sculptor M. Pavlov created two haut reliefs: “Celebrating Europe” and the “Triumph of Russia.” The wooden tower destroyed by the 1747 fire was restored only 200 years later; at the same time, it was also crowned with the famed armillary sphere (R.I. Kaplan-Ingel’s design).

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