Department of the history of Kunstkamera and 18th century Russian Science (M.V. Lomonosov museum)

Contact Information

Phone: (812) 328-12-11 : (812) 328-10-11 


Margarita HARTANOVICH, Head of Department, D.Sc. (history of Russian science and culture: history of state and public establishments, Russian scientists)

Sergei BEREZNITSKY, Leading Researcher, D.Sc.  (history of Russian science, ethnography, culture of traditional and modern societies)

Olga DOMANSKAYA , Senior Curator (history of collections)

Tatyana KRAVCHENKO, Assistant

Yevgenia LUPANOVA, Senior Researcher, Cand.Sc. (scientific instruments of 18th - early 19th century)

Ol'ga PETROVA, Senior Curator (history of 18th-century Kunstkamera)

After the foundation of the Academy of Sciences in 1724, Kunstkamera became one of its key parts, and has played an enormous role in the formation of Russian science. The Kunstkamera housed not only the museum collections, but also a library, a dissection room, a physical laboratory, and an astronomic observatory, and it was the place where the first Academy members worked, M.V. Lomonosov among them.

His life beginning from his first steps at the Academy was inseparably linked with the Kunstkamera.

M. V. Lomonosov Museum was founded by the decision of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences in 1947 as a structural unit of the Institute of Ethnography. In 1953 it was transferred from this institute to the newly-created Institute for the History of Natural Science and Engineering. In 1993 it was returned to Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) as its branch with the preservation of its own research profile, collections, photographic and other archives, and library. The Department received its present name in 2009. 

Lomonosov Museum was opened on January 5th, 1949, in the upper part of the tower of the Kunstkamera, where Mikhail Vassilievich Lomonosov, the first Russian scientist of encyclopedic scope, had worked in 1741–65, and which by that time had become the only remaining building of the 18th-century academic complex. 

Lomonosov’s first task after he had become Academy member was to compile The Catalogue of Stones and Fossils of the Kunstkamera.It was published in Latin in 1745. He continued studying and describing the museum’s collection of minerals started by Academician I. Gmelin. Next Lomonosov set to work at the physical laboratory under the direction of Academician G. Kraft, where he spent much time in the camera obscura experimenting with the diffraction of light. Lomonosov used the instruments owned by the physical laboratory all his life through, and he used to take some of them home to conduct experiments. He spent many hours at the library and at the observatory where he made his first steps in disciplines such as meteorology, cartography, geography, and astronomy. 

After the 1747 fire, the observatory virtually ceased functioning and the activities of all cabinets of the Kunstkamera and of its library were suspended for long. Under these conditions, the Academy members including Lomonosov had no option but to work mainly at their own cabinets and observatories.

The Kunstkamera building was reconstructed by S. I. Chevakinskii in 1751–57 with several changes that affected its architecture. The most conspicuous one was the disappearance of the top of the tower, rendering the building uncrowned in the literal sense. Only in 1947–48 were the top of the tower and the armillary sphere reconstructed, after which the Kunstkamera regained its original appearance. The reconstruction project was authored by R. I. Kaplan-Ingel, one of the sponsors and the first director of Lomonosov Museum. 

Within a short period, despite the lack of special museum equipment and tight deadlines of Lomonosov Museum’ funds formation,T.V.Stanyukovich,a specialist in 18th-century Russian culture, managed to set up, in cooperation with  Kaplan-Ingel, the exposition and to outline the research directions of the future museum, which was to become the center for studying Lomonosov’s life and work in the context of 18th-century Russian culture and science.

Thanks to the assistance of President of the Academy of Sciences S. I. Vavilov, materials falling within the museum’s scope were transferred there from various academic institutions and national museums and were acquired from private persons and antique shops. The accretion of museum collections also occurred through donations. Because very few Lomonosov’s personal possessions had been preserved, it was decided to reconstruct the typical interiors of his epoch. 

Initially, the museum staff consisted of just three persons: R. I. Kaplan-Ingel, the architect who had reconstructed the top of the tower, T. V. Stanyukovich, an historian in charge of the exposition, and V. L. Chenakal, a specialist in optics and instrumentation, who headed the museum in later years. After the museum had become part of the Institute for the History of Natural Science and Engineering, T. V. Stanyukovich remained in the staff of the Institute of Ethnogra-phy.Her successor at Lomonosov Museum was N.V.Sokolova,another specialist in 18th-century Russian culture. Later the staff was joined by R. B. Gorodinskaya, I. A. Breneva and T. M. Moiseeva. In 1993–2002 the Lomonosov Museum of the MAE RAS was headed by E. P. Karpeev. In 2002–08 it was headed by T. M. Moiseeva, who at present is acting as head of department.


Lomonosov Museum staff members carry on the study of Lomonosov’s heritage, 18th-century Russian culture and science, and the museum’s 18th–20th-century collections. They have elaborated a tentative program for the celebration of Lomonosov’s tercentenary in 2011. The work includes the preparation, together with St. Petersburg Institute for Linguistic Research, of Lomonosov’s Lexicon, and the publication of the museum catalog. This program has become a starting point for the activities of Lomonosov Committee within Saint-Petersburg Scientific Center of the Academy of Sciences. 

Under the project of the MAE RAS titled Chronicle of M. V. Lomonosov’s Chemical Laboratory (2006–08, E. P. Karpeev was working on the theme Code of M. V. Lomonosov’s chemical terms, and T. M. Moiseeva — on the theme M.V.Lomonosov’s chemical laboratory as a research and educational unit of 18th century Academy of Sciences. Its equipment and set of tools. 


Recent monographs and other publication by museum staff members include the following:

  • Breneva I.V.Istoriya Instrumental’noi palaty Peterburgskoi Akademii Nauk 1724–1766 gg. [History of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences Toolroom in 1724–66]. SPb.: Nauka, 1999. 101 p. 
  • Breneva I. V., Moiseeva T. M. Muzei Lomonosova: Putevoditel’ [Lomonosov Museum: Guidebook]. SPb., 1995. 62 p. 
  • Breneva I.V.,Moiseeva T.M.Vossozdanie “Kabineta uchenogo 18 veka” v muzee M. V. Lomonosova [Reconstruction of ‘An 18th-century researcher’s cabinet’ in M. V. Lomonosov Museum] // Kunstkamera. Etrnograficheskie tetradi. SPb., 1996. # 10. P. 209–214.
  • Karpeev E.P.Bol’shoi Gottorpskii globus [The Big Gottorp Globe].SPb.: MAE RAN. 2003. 91 p. (Reprinted in Russian and German, 2003).
  • Karpeev E. P. Russkaya kul’tura i Lomonosov [Russian culture and Lomonosov] / Ed. by T. M. Moiseeva. SPb.: Nauka, 2005.
  • Karpeev E. P., Moiseeva T. M. O podgotovke k 300-letnemu yubileyu M. V. Lomonosova [About preparations for M. V. Lomonosov’s 300th anniversary] // Trudy ob’edinennogo naucnogo soveta po gumanitarnym problemam i istoriko-kul’turnomu nasleniyu 2005. Nauka, 2006. P. 136–143.
  • Karpeev E. P., Shafranovskaya T. K. Kunstkamera. SPb.: Almaz, 1996.
  • Kondrasheva E. A. Mints-Kabinet Peterburgskoi Kunstkamery: Kollektsii i inter’ery [Minz-cabinet of St. Petersburg Kunstkamera: Collections and interiors] // Muzeinye kollektsii i nauchnye issledovaniya: Materialy godich. nauch. Sessii MAE RAN 2000. Sbornik MAE. SPb.: MAE, 2004. (MAE Collections. Vol. XLIX).
  • Chenakal V.L.,Andreeva G.A.,Pavlova G.E.,Sokolova N.V.(Compiled by). Letopis’ zhizni i tvorchestva M. V. Lomonosova [Chronicle of life and work of M. V. Lomonosov]. M.; L.: Izd-vo AN SSSR, 1961.
  • Lomonosov: Sb. statei [Lomonosov: Collection of articles]. M.; L.; Izd-vo AN SSSR. 1951, Vol. 3; 1960, Vol. 4; 1961, Vol. 5; 1991, Vol. 9.
  • M. V. Lomonosov. Kratkii entsiklopedicheskii slovar’ [M. V. Lomonosov: A Concise Encyclopedia] / Compiled and edited by E. P. Karpeev. SPb.: Nauka, 1999. 258 p. (Reprinted 2001).
  • Moiseeva T. M. Petrovskaya Kunstkamera v kontekste zapadnoevropeiskikh muzeev XVI–XVIII vv. [Peter’s Kunstkamera in the context of West-European museums of the 16th–18th centuries] // 285 let Peterburgskoi Kunstkamere. Materialy itogovoi nauchnoi konferentsii MAE RAN, posvyaschennoi 285-letiyu Kunstkamery. Sbornik MAE.
  • T. XLVIII. SPb., 2000. P. 24–34 (MAE Collections. Vol. XLVIII).
  • Moiseeva T. M. Armillyarnaya sfera iz sobraniya Muzeya M. V. Lomonosova kak ob’ekt mezhdunarodnogo izucheniya [The armillary sphere from M. V. Lomonosov Museums as subject for international research] // Istoriya tekhniki i muzeinoe delo: Sbornik trudov. Issue 1–4. M., 2007. P. 211–216.
  • Stanyukovich T. V. Kunstkamera Peterburgskoi Akademii nauk [Kunstkamera of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences]. M.; L.: Izd-vo AN SSSR, 1953.
  • Chenakal V. L. Ocherki po istorii russkoi astronomii [Essays on the history of Russian astronomy]. M.; L.: Nauka, 1951.
  • Chenakal V. L. Russkie priporosrtoiteli pervoi poloviny XVIII v. [Russian instrument-makers of the first half of the 18th century]. L.: Prosveschenie, 1953.
  • Chenakal V. L. Dva neizvestnykh proekta observatorii Peterburgskoi Akademii nauk, otnosyaschikhsya k seredine XVIII v. [Two unknown projects of observatory of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences that date to mid 18th century] // Istoriko-astronomicheskie issledovaniya. M.; L.: Fizmatgiz. 1955. Issue I.
  • Chenakal V. L. Astronomicheskaya observatoriya Peterbugskoi Akademii nauk v kontse tridtsatykh godov XVIII v. [The astronomical observatpru of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in late 1730s] // Istoriko-astronomicheskie issledovaniya. M.: Fizmatgiz. 1956. Issue II.
  • Chenakal V. L. Proektirovanie, stroitel’stvo i osnaschenie instrumentami pervoi astronomicheskoi observatorii Peterburgskoi Akademii nauk [Design, construction and equipment of the first astronomical observatory of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences] // Istoriko-asrtronomicheskie issledovaniya. M.; L.: Fizmatfiz. 1957. Issue III.
  • Chenakal V. L. Zazhigatel’nye stekla i zerkala Tschirnhausa v Rossii [Ignition glasses and mirrors of Tschirnhaus in Russia] // Trudy IIET. M.: 1960. Vol. 34.
  • Chenakal V. L. Watchmakers and clockmakers in Russia 1400 to 1850. London. 1972.
  • Moisseeva T. Das Lomonossov Museum und annotazionen // Palast des Wissens. Band 1-Katalog. M?nchen. 2003. S. 174; S. 75–78, 161– 162, 177–189, 192–194, 267–268.
  • Moisseeva T. Das Reform der zeitmessung in Russland und die St. Petersburger Akademie der Wissenschaften // Palast des Wissens. Band 2-Beitrage. M?nchen. 2003. S. 243–248.
  • Moisseeva T. Scientifica of the Petersburg Kunstkamera as the instruments for the introduction of the new European knowledge in Russia // XXIII Scientific Instrument Symposium. Abstracts. Dresden. 2004. P. 67.
  • Moisseva T. Pierre le Grand, De la Moscovie ? L’Empire // Du Tsar ? l’Impereur. Moscou–Saint-P?tersbourg. Bruxelles. 2005. PP. 116– 126.
  • Moiseeva T. The Chemical laboratory of Lomonosov is the First Scientific and Educational laboratory in Russia // XXV Scientific Instrument Symposium “East and West the Common European Heritage”. Book of Abstracts. Krakow. 2006. P. 71
  • Moisseva T. Les Suisses et la cr?ation de l’Acad?mie Pierre le Grand // Suisse-Russie: des Si?cles d’Amour et d’Oubli 1680–2006. Fribourg. 2006. P. 35–42.
  • Moisejeva T. und Smirnova O. A. Die Urspr?nge des russischen Porzellans // Keramos. Heft 202. D?sseldorf, 2008. S. 57–64.
  • Moisseeva T. Scientifica of the Petersburg Kunstkamera as the Instruments for the Introduction of the New European Knowledge in Russia // European Collections of Scientific Instruments, 1550– 1750 / Scientific Instruments and Collections: Studies Published under Auspices of the Scientific Instrument Commission. Vol. I. Gen. ed. Giorgio Strano. Leiden–Boston, 2009. P. 161–169.


Today the museum’s small collection comprises Lomonosov’s few preserved personal possessions, mosaic portraits made at his workshop including the masterpiece Portrait of Peter I, rare smalt artifacts made at Lomonosov’s own stained-glass factory, and things excavated from the remains of Russia’s first scientific chemical laboratory founded by him. Also, the museum owns unique scientific 14th–19th-century apparatus, first and foremost the Kunstkamera’s own exhibits which, after a long interval, were returned to the museum. The most unique one is the Big Gottorp Globe — the first exhibit of the Kunstkamera, placed there in 1726 when the building was still incomplete. 

The 1747 fire spared only the door of the Globe and some metal parts. It was fully restored only by late 1700s, and in later years it was more than once moved from one place to another in St. Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo, from where it was carried off to Germany during World War II. In the late 1940s, during the reconstruction of the tower, it was returned to its original place. At present the famous globe, in fact a planetarium 3.10 m in diameter is located in the fifth tier of the tower. In the third tier, where the Globe had stood before the 1747 fire, numerous old scientific instruments are cur-rently exhibited, including a burning-glass, the only one in Russia made by the German optician E. von Tschirnhaus (in the 1700s it belonged among the apparatus of Kunstkamera’s physical laboratory). It was used by the head of the laboratory, Academician G. V. Kraft to demonstrate “curious experiments” before Empress Anna Ioanovna and other noble persons. 

Scientific instruments for the physical laboratory and the observatory were not only purchased abroad by the Academy of Sciences, but were also manufactured at its tool-rooms. Some, such as the electrostatic machine and press, the air pump, iron converters and glass flasks, which were also used in demonstrational experiments, have played an important part in the emergence of experimental science in Russia, and their prominent place among the exhibits of Lomonosov Museum is well-earned. 

Certain apparatus, while being unrelated to 18th-century Academy of Sciences, is unique, at least in Russia. It includes a planisphere astrolabe made in 1564 by a Flemish master G. Arsenius and owned by K.Wallenstein,the Austrian general in the ThirtyYears’War (1618–48), an adding machine made by E. Jacobson in Nesvizh, Belorussia, in mid-1700s, and astronomical instruments made in Islamic and European countries in the 14th–18th centuries. 

Turning to books, the museum’s collection contains many rarities including foreign and Russian 16th–18th-century publications which were the first to be received by the Library of the Academy of Sciences. Many are illustrated with prints that are both artistic and rich in scientific information. The latter feature was especially valued by Peter I, who promoted the art of engraving in Russia. The place where this art originated in this country was the Engraving Chamber of the Academy. The first gala album published by its masters in two formats featured the Academy buildings and was titled Chambers of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, of the Library and of the Kusntkamera. Its second version (1744) belongs in the Lomonosov Museum collection.

The collection of more than 250 engravings and lithographs, arranged by themes, is both artistically and historically valuable. It contains quite a few first prints and rare examples of 15th– 18th-century Russian and European graphics.