HISTORY | Горный Университет


XVIII century

The Mining University (originally the Mining School) was the first technical higher educational institution in Russia, founded in 1773 on the order of Empress Catherine II. The Museum, founded at the same time as the Mining School, is one of the best geological, mining and metallurgical museums in the world. It was established by the Mining School Charter on June 28, 1774.

Екатерина II

... assembled and henceforth proceed to be assembled from Russian and foreign minerals at the Mining School, the Chamber shall always be kept in order

The Charter of the Mining School, founded by the Decree of Her Imperial Majesty on June 28, 1774.

... to use 2250 rubles annually for the purchase of metal ores and minerals from Europe and other parts of the world... Proceeds from ore mining enterprises and also money remaining from students' allowances to use for the establishment of a Mining Cabinet, a Metals Cabinet, and a Mineralogical Cabinet...

The Mining Museum is housed in the building of the Mining University. It is an integral part of the University, and occupies its very best historical ceremonial halls.

Вид колонного зала до 1820г.

The unique architecture of the Mining Institute, which has been preserved right up to our time, was designed by an outstanding Russian architect, A.N. Voronikhin, during the reign of Emperor Alexander I. In 1821 - 1826 his successor, the architect A.I. Postnikov, reconstructed the interiors of the Museum’s ceremonial halls, which were given a new architectural design in the classical tradition.

The first documentary evidence of the Museum’s existence refers to 1777, when the Mineralogical Cabinet collection was shown to the King of Sweden, Gustav III, who was the royal guest of the Imperial Palace. He also gave the Museum its first official gift - 202 samples of Swedish “ores, salts and stones.”


XIX century

Бронзовая доска в Колонном зале

According to the log book records, in 1823 the Mineral Cabinet collections totaled 39529 mineralogical and geognostic samples, 374 paleontological objects and 68 models.

A significant part of the exhibition and stock materials required more advanced systematization. By 1830 the Museum included a number of departments (cabinets):

  • Oryctognostic department - the main mineral collection,
  • Geognostic department - characterized rock and rock-forming minerals and their formation period,
  • Training mineralogical department - classified collection of minerals (according to Werner's classification),
  • Topographical department - a collection of Russian minerals, ores and rocks specifying their location in the provinces, mountain districts, mines and gold fields,
  • Petromatognostic department - a paleontological collection.

In addition, there were stand-alone exhibitions which displayed a collection of items made from Russian minerals, a Cabinet of physical and mathematical tools, a Numismatic Cabinet, and a Mineral shop.

In the Mining School courtyard there was arranged a Bulk slide with access to an Exemplary ore mine, which had 4 training mines and 2 tunnels.

Отдел геологии. Середина XX века By the mid-1930s the structure of the Museum, principles of exhibits and the thinking behind training workshops had been largely developed. Almost until the mid-1960s, changes in the life of the Museum meant only increasing the number of collections, especially in the field of the geological survey of Russia.

The Museum then underwent the most significant organizational changes since the adoption of the new Charter in 1866.

Due to the closure of the boarding dormitories, the Cadet sleeping quarters adjacent to the Conference Hall and reaching the Institution Church were transferred to the Museum. The Mineralogical shop closed.

The Geognostic, Topographical and Main Mineralogical Cabinet collections suffered significant redistribution of their exhibits and educational materials. The Crystallographic and Numismatic Cabinets were disbanded; their collections became part of the Mineralogical and Technical departments. The Conference Hall’s art collection was transferred to the Museum. At the same time, the Museum acquired a significant number of new collections and educational materials.


XX century

Keepers, Managers and Directors
of the Mining Museum

I.M. Renofants (1774-1778, 1785-1798)
P.I. Meder (1798-1807)
D.I. Sokolov (1811-1840)
G.P. Gelmersen (1840-1865)
V.V. Nefedyev (1841-1878)
I.I. Laguzen (1878-1885)
A.A. Lesh (1885-1895)
M.P. Melnikov (1896-1900)
N.P. Pokrovsky (1900-1923)
D.I. Mushketov (1923-1937)
G.I. Sokratov (1937-1960)
V.D. Kolomensky (1960-1997)
J.A. Polyarnaya (1997-2010)

During the end of the XIX - early XX century, many exhibitions were held at the Museum.

The early Soviet period was marked by an increase in the Museum’s full-time research staff and the replenishment of its funds, mainly through properties which were nationalized - mansions, palaces and companies.

The Museum was separated from the Mining Institute in 1922. Fortunately,
this organizational innovation didn't last long - and in 1926 it became part of the Institute once again.

During World War II the most valuable artifacts stored in the vaults of the
Mineralogical Department (diamonds, gold nuggets, platinum nuggets, etc.)
had to be evacuated to Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg) where they were put into temporary storage.

Part of the collection was packaged up and stored in the cellars of the Mining Institute. The main part of the collection remained in place in the Museum. In 1944, the exhibits that were evacuated were returned to the Museum.

The museum opened its doors to the public for the first time after the war
on September 1, 1951.

The following years have seen a significant replenishment of the main collection, the systematization of exhibits, and improvements in the exhibition space.


XXI century

Современный вид колонного зала Горного музея

Currently the Mining Museum is home to unique collections of minerals, ores, rocks, paleontological remains, models and miniatures on the history of mining and metallurgical equipment, melee weapons, stone-cutting products and jewelry. The museum houses more than 230,000 exhibits, collected from all over the world (more than 80 countries).

All this, along with classic design interiors and museum furniture of high artistic value, makes the Mining Museum a cultural phenomenon of global significance.

Указ Президента Российской Федерации Ельцина Б.Н. 1996г.

Numerous awards won at international and national exhibitions in Paris, Philadelphia, Glasgow, Munich, Tucson, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and St. Petersburg are evidence of the richness and uniqueness of the Museum’s scientific potential and the high quality of its exhibitions.

By Decree № 1112 of the President of the Russian Federation dated July 30, 1996, the Mining Institute was included in the State Code of Highly Valuable Objects of Cultural Heritage of the Peoples of the Russian Federation, and the collection of the Mining Museum became part of the Museum Fund of Russia.





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