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Department of Europe

Contact Information

Phone: (812) 328-00-25

Head of Department

Alexander NOVIK , Cand.Sc.

History of the Department

The Department of Europe, established in the early 1990s, derives from the former Department of General and Theoretical Problems. It emerged through the efforts of Prof. A.S. Myl’nikov , then Director of MAE. A specialist in a whole range of European peoples, he headed the department until his death in 2003.

Main Research Areas

The department’s research activities mainly concern traditional culture of Scandinavia and Central Europe, the Balkan Peninsula, the Slavic world, and southern and southwestern Europe.

Several department’s staff members have participated in A.V. Desnitskaya Memorial Conferences co-sponsored by MAE, St.-Petersburg Institute of Linguistic Studies, and St.-Petersburg State University. The department publishes regular series such as Nemtsy v Peterburge. Biogragicheskii aspekt [Germans in St.-Petersburg: A Biographic Aspect], Skandinavskie chteniya [Scandinavian Lectures], Etnografiya Peterburga-Leningrada [Ethnography of St.-Petersburg-Leningrad], etc. An important domain of departmental activities is preparation of temporary exhibitions.

Department Staff

At present, six researchers work at the Department, and the principal themes of their studies are as follows:

Novik Alexander , Cand.Sc., Head of Department (traditional culture of Balkan Peninsula, Balkan settlers in former Russian Empire).

Yukhneva Nataliya , D.Sc., Leading Researcher (ethnic minorities in St.-Petersburg, ethnic problems of Central and Eastern European cities, Jews in the former USSR, modern ethnic relations, and ethnic minorities at large).

Schrader Tatjana , Cand.Sc., Senior Researcher (culture and ethnology of Scandinavia and the Circum-Baltic region).

Buchatskaya (Ivanova) Yuliya , Cand.Sc., Researcher (folk culture of northern Germany, interface between Slavonic and German cultures in the Elba – Oder interfluve, northern German toponymy, oral folklore genres, northern German imagology, and modern calendar rites).

Gubanov Igor’ , Cand.Sc., Research Assistant (society and culture in ancient Scandinavia, contacts between Scandinavians and their neighbors).

Meskhidze Julietta , Research Assistant (cultures of islanders and highlanders of southwestern Europe, and index catalogue of Western and Southwestern European ethnographic collections at MAE).

Principal Publications

Over the recent years, the department staff members have published several monographs and articles. Some of them are listed below.

  • Myl’nikov A.S. Narody Tsentral’noi Evropy: Formirovanie natsional’nogo samosoznaniya XVIII – XIX vv. [Peoples of Central Europe: The Origins of National Identity 18th – 19th centuries]. SPb.: Petropolis, 1997. 176 p.
  • Myl’nikov A.S. Kartina slavyanskogo mira: vzglyad iz Vostochnoi Evropy. Etnogeneticheskie legendy, dogadki, protogipotezy XVI – nachala XVIII veka [View of the Slavic World: A Look from Eastern Europe.Ethnogenetic Legends, Guesses, Proto-Hypothesis, 16th – early 18th century]. SPb.: Peterburgskoe Vostokovedenie, 1996. 320 p.
  • Myl’nikov A.S. Kartina slavyanskogo mira: vzglyad iz Vostochnoi Evropy. Predstavleniya ob etnicheskoi nominatsii i etnichnosti XVI-XVIII vv. [View of the Slavic World: A Look from Eastern Europe. Ideas of ethnic nomination and ethnicity, 16th – 18th centuries]. SPb.: Peterburgskoe Vostokovedenie. 1999. 400 p.
  • Novik A.A. Albantsy i slavyane v poseleniyakh yuga Ukrainy. Po materialam ekspeditsii 1998 g . [Albanian and Slavic colonies in southern Ukraine. Based on 1998 field data] // Problemy slavyanovedeniya: Sbornik nauchnykh statei i materialov. Bryansk, 2000. Vol. 1. P. 234–243.
  • Novik A.A. Albanskaya odezhda perioda osmanskogo gospodstva na Balkanakh v muzeyakh Sankt-Peterburga [Albanian clothing worn during the Turkish Domination of the Balkans (based on collections at Saint-Petersburg museums] // Studia Linguistica et Balcanica: Pamyati Agnii Vassilievny Desnitskoi (1912–1992). SPb., 2001. P. 379–406.
  • Yukhneva N.V. Etnicheskii sostav i etnosotsial’naya struktura naseleniya Peterburga. Vtoraya polovina XIX – nachalo XX v. [Ethnic Composition and Ethno-Social Structure of St.-Petersburg Population: Late 19th – Early 20th Centuries]. Leningrad: Nauka. 1984. 223 p.
  • Yukneva N.V. . Istoriya [History] // Mnogonatsional’nyi Peterburg. Istoriya. Religii. Narody. SPb., 2002. P. 9–160.
  • Schrader T.A. Runicheskie reznye kalendari v kollektsii MAE [Carved Runic Calendars in the MAE Collections] // 285 let Peterburgskoi Kunstkamere: Materialy itogovoi nauchnoi konferentsii MAE RAN, posvyaschennoi 285-letiyu Kunstkamery. SPb., 2000. P. 98–106. (MAE Collection. Vol. XLVIII).
  • Ivanova Yu.V. Legendy o slavyanakh v severonemetskoi literature [Legends about the Slavs in northern German literature] // Mavrodinskie chteniya. SPb., 2002. P. 489–495.
  • Gubanov I.B. Struktura drevneskandinavskogo obschestva po materialam rodovykh sag [Structure of the ancient Scandinavian society, based on family sagas] // Skandinavskie chteniya 1998 goda. Ethnograficheskie i kul’turno-istoricheskie aspekty. SPb., 1999. P. 40–48.
  • Meskhidze J.I. Sovremennaya baskologiya: problematika, nauchnye i muzeinye tsentry [Modern Basque studies: Problems and research centers] // Latinskaya Amerika (America Latina). 2003. No. 3. P. 99.
  • Meskhidze J.I. Ostrov Madeira: kollektsiya K.N. Pos’eta i zapiski puteshestvennikov (50-60-e gody XIX v.) [Madeira Island: K.N. Pos’et’s Collection and Travelers’ Notes (1850s – 1860s)] // V mire Luzofonii: Materialy i stat’i / Ed. by B.N. Komissarov . SPb., 2003. P. 303–310.


The department staff members conduct numerous field trips to various regions of Europe, and continue collecting articles of traditional cultures in these regions.

Since 1998, annual expeditions have been organized to the Azov and northern Black Sea region. Multidisciplinary studies of Balkan (Albanian, Bulgarian, Gagauz, and Greek) colonies in southern Ukraine have been conducted. Field work, in which A.A. Novik and Yu.V. Ivanova-Buchatskaya take part, is conducted under collaboration with colleagues from St.-Petersburg State University and the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology.

In 2000, the first Russian-German ethnological expedition to northern Germany took place (its participants were A.S. Myl’nikov , A.A. Novik and Yu.V. Ivanova-Buchatskaya ). This multidisciplinary project, focusing on regions formerly inhabited by the Elba Slavs is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Central Eastern Europe in Leipzig.

In 2003, pilot studies of the former Swedich colonies in the Russian Empire began under collaboration with S50102dert50102rn Higher School (University of South Stokholm). One of the project members is T.A. Schrader .

In 2004, the ethno-linguistic expedition to Skrapar, South Albania, took place. This project is implemented under agreement on cooperation between the Academies of Sciences of Albania and Russia. A.A. Novik has taken part in the trip.


Since 1996, the department has been sponsoring the Scandinavian Lectures. This international conference is being held biennially under the participation of specialists from both Russia and foreign countries. Various aspects of history, ethnic relations, and culture of Scandinavia and neighboring countries are being discussed. Four volumes of proceedings have been published. The conference organizer is T.A. Schrader .

Since 1999, the annual conference Germans in St.-Petersburg: A Biographic Aspect is being held. Based on its materials, two collections of articles have been published. The conference organizer and the editor of the collections is T.A. Schrader .

The department holds the annual conference titled Ethnography of Petersburg – Leningrad, addressing general problems of urban ethnography, social history and history of daily life of Petersburg, ethnic problems, and St.-Petersburg museology. The study of St.-Petersburg is part of circum-Baltic studies. Conference proceedings are being published. For many years, the work has been directed by N.V. Yukhneva .

Prizes and Awards

The joint monograph Mnogonatsional’nyi Peterburg. Istoriya. Religii. Narody [Multinational Peterburg: History, Religions, Peoples], prepared under an active participation of N.V. Yukhneva , was awarded with a diploma of the VI National Exhibition Fair “Books of Russia” in 2003. In the same year N.V. Yukhneva won the Antsiferov prize in the nomination “General Contribution to Studies of Modern Petersburg”.

Current Research Projects

In 2003-05 the Department of Europe staff members have been working on the joint project Problems in Ethno-Cultural Interaction (The Phenomenon of the “Second Homeland”: Evolution and Modification of Ethnic Identity and Mental Assessments in Material Culture and Ideology of the Peoples of Scandinavia, Central and South Europe, and on the projects Kunstkamera: The History of the Museum and its Collections and Collections of the MAE (Kunstkamera): Traditional and New Technologies of Storage, Exhibition, Attribution, and Cataloging.


The Department possesses numerous valuable collections of items of traditional culture, photographs, drawings, posters, paintings, and other visual materials related to the original and diverse folk cultures of Europe. It is no secret that the scholarly interest in articles of European folk culture arose much later than that for “exotic, remote, and strange” peoples. The situation was the same with collections representing the life of peoples who live next to us, but turn out to be so little known to us.

The first European collections began to accumulate in the 19th century. Among the noteworthy items acquired at that time are Albanian clothes from crimson velvet with rich golden orphrey, presented to the Russian tsar Nicholas I . Together with Albanian weapons decorated with silver, they belong to the museum’s most unique specimens. Also in the 19th century, the collections were enriched with traditional artifacts representing the folk culture of Montenegrins, Macedonians, and other peoples. A purposeful collecting of articles of traditional European cultures began in the 20th century. The museum was enriched with rare exhibits from Scandinavia, Central, Southern, and Southwestern Europe.

The bulk of the Scandinavian collection of the Kunstkamera are runic calendars received in the 1830s, Norwegian exhibits dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s, Swedish peasant items from Run50102 (Ruhnu) Island, received in the early 1800s. The total number of Scandinavian exhibits at MAE is over 250.

There are more than one hundred objects and photographs from Spain, Italy, Monaco, Portugal and southern France (Department of East Pyrenees). Part of them was donated by Admiral K.N. Pos’et in 1899. Certain specimens such as plaster figurines, traditional headdresses and musical instruments, dolls in national costumes, and utensils were received from the Museum of Presents to I.V. Stalin (Moscow).

The department owns five collections representing the traditional culture of Germans (ca. 100 items). One of them is related to German colonists of the Volga region. Another one is an interesting collection of spoons donated to the museum by V.A. Ryshkov in 1927.

In 1990 a goal-oriented assemblage of items of the traditional Germans culture began. In 2000, during the First Russian-German Ethnological Expedition to northern Germany, the department staff members A.S. Myl’nikov , A.A. Novik and Yu.V. Ivanova-Buchatskaya acquired a collection comprising 24 specimens such as household objects, clothing, textile, and articles related to festivals.

A.A. Novik , who conducted several expeditions to Greek and Albanian villages in the Ukraine in 1998–2003, brought some 100 specimens reflecting traditional life of Greeks and Albanians. The collection is unique as there are no such artifacts in Russian museums.

The department’s photographic collections consist of films, negatives and photographs made by MAE researchers in various European countries in late 1800s. Especially noteworthy are those made by V.V. Radlov in Skansen, Sweden, in 1898. They show the traditional life of Scandinavian peasants and common town dwellers. Many photographs were made by L.J. Sternberg in early 1900s. His trips to Brittany in 1904 and to Galicia and Germany in 1919 enriched the Kunstkamera with unique photographs showing everyday life, culture, festive rites, etc. Such photos are very rare not only in Russian, but also in European museums, as the interest in ethnographic photography is rather recent.

Photographs are not the only boast of the department’s stock of illustrations. There are painting and drawings made by amateurs as well as by professional artists. Among them are two paintings by the famous Albanian artist Yu. Rota , depicting women of the northern Albanian town Shkodra in their national costumes. These small paintings were made in the 1950s, when traditional clothing was still popular with the Albanians at large rather than with members of folklore groups alone.

In 1999 the General Consulate of Norway donated to the museum a collection of illustrative materials showing the role of skis in the life of Norwegians.

Expeditions organized by the department have been an important source of new materials. Numerous photographs reflecting various aspects of life and culture were brought from Albania, Macedonia, Lithuania, and Germany. The Circum-Baltic region, Central Europe and the Balkans have become the foci of the department’s ethnological studies, and they are especially well represented by photographic materials. The joint Russian-German expedition to Jabelheide-Wendland (2000) should be mentioned in this context, because it enriched the museum with more than 700 photographs, ten video cassettes, and 23 audio cassettes. This allowed to document a considerable part of present-day folk culture – one which will be part of the past tomorrow.

Apart from describing photographic materials and using them in research work, the department’s staff members use them for educational purposes, stressing the importance of ethnographical photography in the new industrial world. In the last several years two exhibitions were organized: one of posters showing the role of skis in the life of Norwegians, another one titled Albania in the Photographic Art of George Argiropulo (1960) . Other exhibitions are being planned.

J.I. Meskhidze has prepared the Catalogue of Artifacts from Western and Southwestern Europe in MAE and a publication titled Peoples of Belgium and Holland: A Catalogue of Artifacts and Photographs at MAE. Both are forthcoming.


The Department of Europe has no standing exposition of its own. Collections owned by it are displayed on temporary exhibitions at MAE.