The State Geological MuseumRussian: Gosudarstvennyi geologicheskiy muzey or Государственный геологический музей is known for its academic focus on geology and systematic approach. There is a reason this is so – initially, it was founded for educational purposes and affiliated with the Moscow State UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy gosudarstvennyi universitet or Московский государственный университет. It is one of the oldest museums of natural sciences in Russia. At the heart of the museum is an exhibit comprising 250 thousand specimens collected from 5 thousand deposits. The museum is based on the combined collections of three educational institutions: the Moscow State University, the Moscow Mining AcademyRussian: Moskovskaya gornaya akademiya or Московская горная академия, and the Russian State Geological Prospecting UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy geologorazvedochnyi institut or Московский геологоразведочный институт. Internationally-renowned scientist Vladimir Vernadsky, who established the Moscow school of Mineralogy in Science at the beginning of the 20th century, was the founder of the State Geological Museum.
The Museum occupies seven halls on two floors and is known for an outstanding abundance of collections of minerals and rocks from almost all over the Earth. Special attention is paid to the mineral wealth of Russia. The basis of the museum is the “Mineral StudyRussian: Mineralnyi kabinet or Минеральный кабинет” which was given to the State University by Uralian industrialists Demidov in 1759. The museum houses historical collections compiled by collectors of the 18-19th centuries such as Nikolay Rumyantsev, Akinfy Demidov, Knyaz Igor Gagarin, Knyaginya Ekaterina Dashkova, Alexey and Maria Pavlov, Count Alexey Razumovsky, and others. You can find the names of such art patrons as Emperor Alexander Ireigned as Emperor of Russia from 1801 to 1825, Emperor Nikolai Ithe Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, as well as contemporary political activist Sergei Mironov on the recognition board here.
The building itself is located opposite the Kremlin. It is a three-storey construction built in 1918 under the supervision of architect Roman Klein. The classical architecture of the building blends in with the neighbouring Moscow State University and the Hotel NationalRussian: gostinitsa «Natsional» or гостиница «Националь».
In the Geological Museum, you will see huge oak cases with shelves full of minerals. These collections have provided guidance for generations of students of the Moscow State University and other institutes specialising in this field. A trip around the museum starts with a display called “The World of MineralsRussian: Mir mineralov or Мир минералов”, which gives an account of the basic properties and distinctive features of the stones. The specimens in the window cases are grouped according to sections such as stones and colours, stone geometry, shape and colouring, chemical transformations of minerals, and others.
A large section demonstrates how the attitude of people to geology has evolved over time. As academic A. Fersman pointed out, “the history of stone starts in the distant epochs of human existence”. For this reason, the museum also contains objects from Paleolithic cultures.
A small window case presents the smallest and most valuable exhibits – diamonds. There is a small section with replicas of historical stones known around the world. Artificially grown amethysts, emeralds, citrines, corundums, and an enormous (300 specimen) exhibit of Uralian malachites are also on display.
The next hall is dedicated to the systematisation of minerals (more than 1100 mineral specimens). It is occupied by the world’s largest collections of quartz, tiff, fluor spar, baryte, hematite, cassiterite, scheelit and other minerals. Among the exhibits there are unique giant crystals of apatite, pleonaste and cassiterite.
Pay attention to the window case in the centre of the hall containing pegmatites – a wide spread coarsely-graded rock refuse combined with magma intrusions. From time to time, huge crystals are found in this unique rock refuse, for example, topazes weighing up to 60 kilos and 7 metre long quartzes weighing 70 tons. This is one of the few window cases with exhibit names both in Russian and English.
In this hall, you will see giant specimens, including a rock of Uralian malachite weighing 200 kilos (a gift from the Demidovs), a native copper plate, and other rarities. Right beside it there is the school students’ favourite exhibit – a column of rock salt which is nearly a metre and a half tall. Unlike other exhibits, you can touch this one.
A huge screen on the wall of the hall tells you about the mineral resources of Russia. In the window cases you can see precious ores and crystals as well as a vessel with Russian oil – the main mineral product of the country.
The display called “Planet EarthRussian: Planeta Zemlya or Планета Земля” is dedicated to the geological past of our planet. This part of the exposition is of interest to children who wish to understand how the present-day landscape of the planet appeared, how rock refuse was formed under pressure, and the way the Earth looked in different geological periods. On the maps you can trace the way continents drifted and find out where our piece of land was situated a million years ago.
The “History of the EarthRussian: Istoriya Zemli or История Земли” hall on the ground floor gives an account of the geological age, i.e. approximately the three million years the planet has been around. Its stone chronicle is not just chambers of rock refuse; it is an open book from which geologists glean meaning. A detailed account of the origin of life on the Earth and the peculiarities of geological layers takes us back into the distant past of the planet – even into space.
The exhibition “Creations of Nature in the Master’s HandsRussian: Tvoreniya prirody v rukakh mastera or Творения природы в руках мастера” is held on the ground floor, too. It presents various crafts made of stone. In the very centre of it there is a big table decorated with Florentine mosaic made of precious rock refuse. Pay attention to the modest columns with marble caps in the corner. They are all that is left of the first Cathedral of Christ the SaviourRussian: Khram Khrista Spasitelya or Храм Христа Спасителя which was destroyed in 1931.
The first floor is occupied by the following displays: “Geological Cabinet of CuriositiesRussian: Geologicheskaya kunstkamera or Геологическая кунсткамера”, “Historical Collections of the Museum Funds (late 18th – early 20th centuries)Russian: Istoricheskiye kollektsii iz sobraniya muzeya (konets XVIII - nachalo XX vv.) or Исторические коллекции из собрания музея (конец XVIII ‒ начало XX вв.)”, “Geological Sketch of Moscow Neighbourhood (dedicated to the 850th anniversary of the capital)Russian: Geologicheskiy ocherk okrestnostey Moskvy (k 850-letiu stolitsy) or Геологический очерк окрестностей Москвы (к 850-летию столицы)”. There is also the collection of S. Mironov, a famous politician and the leader of “A Just Russiaa social democratic political party; Russian: Spravedlivaya Rossiya, or Справедливая Россия”. The collection he put together for many years is a pure masterpiece. Its estimated price is a million and a half dollars. A large variety of minerals – both processed and natural – show us the mineral wealth of the country. Many minerals are presented in the form of large lumps. In the corner of the window case you can see a piece of the Chelyabinska city located in 210 kilometers south of Yekaterinburg, just to the east of the Ural Mountains meteorite which fell in 2013.
There is also a display reconstructing a mine. Two figures dressed in miners’ uniform welcome visitors at the entrance. Further on you can see a miner’s face and some mining equipment. The exhibition “An Educational MineRussian: Shakhta akademicheskaya or Шахта академическая” is only accessible to pre-arranged groups of tourists.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com