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Exotic Museums of Russia
May 21, 2011 15:17

The New Year Toys Museum

All kinds of museums are needed and wanted! Obviously, this is the credo of museum enthusiasts in Russia. Apart from classical Russian museums almost every city of this country can nowadays boast some exotic museum exposition, which is worthy of going for a trip to see it.

The New Year Toys Museum in Velikiy Ustyug has been open for visitors for a few years already. It is settled in St. Nicholas Gostinsky Church in Velikiy Ustyug. Numerous exhibits – toys of the 1930s-2000s – are all decorating artificial fir-trees. The fir-trees quite match their contemporary toy decorations: visitors can see that New Year's trees of the 1930s and 1940s cardinally differ from the fir-trees of the periods of Stagnation and Perestroika. It is interesting that the toy subject-matter helps tracing almost entirely the history of Russia. Thus, exhibits of the 1930s are made of cotton wool, paper and glass, since Christmas tree decorations were not manufactured in the country till 1935. Toys of those years are designed as figurines of people: parachutists, hockey players, and little African and Mongol men. The 1940s saw the appearance of fir-tree toys made of thick bottle glass: dogs-nurses, pistols, and Kremlin stars. The fur-tree decorations of the 1960s were predominantly images of cosmonauts and corncobs. By the way, anybody can make one’s own contribution into the development of this remarkable museum exposition – present it with a purchased or hand-made fur-tree decoration toy.


The Library of Russian Vodka
In Yaroslavl Region there is an ancient town of Uglich, which is literally besieged by inquisitive tourists both in winter and summer. The town has something to offer, indeed! In its Library of Russian Vodka one can not only look through the alcoholic pages of all epochs and peoples, but also taste the duplicates of the most attractive exhibits in the tasting room. Not far from it there is Museum of Superstitions and Magic, opened in 2001, which is popularly called just Devilry Museum. The entrance ticket costs only five roubles, and so, Uglich dwellers joke that the museum must be really provided for by evil spirits. The place of honor in the exposition is taken by Domovoi (i.e. Brownie or house spirit) – one of the most ancient Russian mythical characters. Our ancestors believed that brownies were born from souls of trees, which had been cut down for construction of the house. One should treat them with respect, and then they will willingly help about the house, they assumed.


The Teapot Museum

Small town of Pereslavl is also rich in unusual museums. There are several private expositions, which are extremely popular among local dwellers and tourists: Museum of Steam Locomotives, Teapot Museum, and Iron Museum. The first one was founded in 1991 and is Russia’s only museum of narrow-gage vehicles. Its exposition includes over 30 units of railway narrow-gage rolling stock, such as steam locomotives, motor-carts, section cars, and hand cars, as well as motor vehicles, tractors and other machinery of the 1900s-1950s. Among the rarest exhibits there is the steam locomotive GR-269 and the ZIM on-rail-car, which once served as an ambulance. The collection of the Museum of teapots totals more than 100 exhibits: here one can see large and tiny, ancient and modern teapots, and learn about their history and origin, get acquainted with traditions of tea drinking in merchants’ and common peasants’ houses. One of the exhibits most popular with visitors is sbiten , the forefather of samovar . All housewives and househusbands eager to learn about where the iron comes from are welcomed to the Iron Museum. Its collection includes the very first irons and five types of metal irons: a coal iron, a unit-cast iron, an iron heated with a metal bar, a cast-iron iron and a spirit iron. The collection numbering about 200 irons has even the first electric iron to show!


One-and-only Museum of Catfish Stomach is situated at a fish factory on Lake Balkhash. It presents a stunning collection of coins, buttons, hairbrushes, pebbles, and empty cans from the stomachs of catfish. Somehow, catfishes especially like condensed milk oblong tins. There is also a silicate brick, and a pair of galoshes retrieved from the stomach of a 60-kilogram fish. The custodian will explain to especially sensitive visitors that the fish had swallowed them without their owner.

Air Museum works in the Tver Region and shows neither more nor less than the real ancient pre-revolutionary air preserved in its primordial form since 1917! As a matter of fact, some collectors have combined their efforts and exposed pharmaceutical bottles with interspersed vials of air. But what an amusing idea!

Museum of Human Barbarity and Beastliness is available in Vladivostok. Its prevailing exhibits are street urns smashed by hooligans and wrenched out elevator gage boards. There are many other versions of barbarity exhibited in the museum.


The Brick Museum
In 2002 the Brick Museum and Tool Museum opened in St. Petersburg. The latter’s collection includes unique exhibits, in particular, axes and joiner's tools, with which the fleet of Peter I was built. Apart from tools of the epoch of Peter the Great, the museum presents exhibits of the second half of the 18th century – the early 21st century. The exposition gives a picture of the evolution of tools from the brace to the electrodrill.

Another remarkable museum – the Museum of Bridges – occupies six halls of the Central Museum of Railway Transportation. One can see a large collection of bridge models, as well as engravings, drawings and water color paintings of bridges, and portraits of bridge builders. Boys are unmistakably delighted with the model of the five-flying bridge of a complex braced-arched system on wooden piers and stone abutments, designed by engineer A.F.Fabr and constructed by engineer Lvov in 1821-1822 over Lazhitovsky Brook at the place of its confluence into River Volkhov (Veliky Novgorod Region). The average age of collection bridge models is 180 years. The oldest of them is the unique wooden arch bridge model constructed in 1762 by order of the Swiss engineer Aldon as a competitive project for the permanent bridge over Neva in St. Petersburg. However the bridge remained only a project, and so it is only in the museum, where one can imagine what it would be like.

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