The Kunstkamera or "The Chamber of Curiosities": the most unusual museum in the northern capital

The Kunstkamera or "The Chamber of Curiosities": the most unusual museum in the northern capital

12.05.2018
Russia & More

Located on the Neva wharf in the historic center of St. Petersburg, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (otherwise Kunstkamera) is one of the largest museums of its kind. The collection is an exhibition dedicated to the culture and life of the people of the world, but above all it is famous for its collection of "freaks" - anatomical rarities and anomalies. The very concept of "The Kunstkamera" comes from the German word "Kunstkammer" and means "Cabinet of Curiosities".

Built in St. Petersburg according to the will of Peter the Great, it was completed in 1727. The zoology part of the museum became a separate department in 1832 and moved to the zoological museum (at the tip of Vasilievsky Island) in 1896. The museum also housed the former Asian Museum and now it is home to a separate exhibition dedicated to Mikhail Lomonosov.

On one of his trips abroad, Czar Peter the Great visited the local "Cabinet of Rarities". He was very interested in anatomy, medicine, and pharmacology, so the Czar bought whole collections and individual rare items: books, instruments, tools, weapons, natural rarities. These items formed the foundation of the first collection of the Kunstkamera.

The collection was growing and soon it was decided to build a separate building on the spire of Vasilevsky Island - the "Chamber of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Library and Kunstkamera". The building is designed in the Baroque Petrine style, consisting of two three-story buildings, connected by a multi-level baroque tower with a complex dome completion.

Today, the anatomical room attracts medical students and thrill seekers. And, true, art galleries can be found in almost any tourist city. And how many museums with anatomical artifacts do you know? Kunstkamera has been one of the largest collections of anatomical curiosities for 300 years and nowadays it is stored in St. Petersburg, containing as many as 915 items. It is located in one of the rooms on the second floor in the building on the University wharf .

The Kunstkamera or "The Chamber of Curiosities": the most unusual museum in the northern capital
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