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History of the museum

Khabarovsk museum was opened on April 19, 1894 in the presence of the public of the city, representatives of the army, the scientific intelligentsia and higher ranks. As with any new business in those days, the opening was accompanied by a prayer service.

The first museum exposition was located in the premises of a pharmacy warehouse on Tikhmenevskaya Street (now Seryshev Street), which was under the jurisdiction of Vasily Radakov, a military medical inspector of the Priamursky District, an enthusiastic ornithologist and a staunch supporter of organizing a museum in Khabarovsk.

It was Vasily Nikolaevich who was elected the first director of the museum, and a year later he was succeeded by Vasily Petrovich Margaritov - a district inspector of schools, a researcher of archeology and ethnography of the Amur region.

The first museum collections were formed from numerous donations of active members of the Geographical Society's Priamursky Division and city residents.

The first museum collections were formed from numerous donations of active members of the Priamursk department of the Geographical Society and city residents. Thus, V.N. Radakov gave to the museum a scientifically processed ornithological collection, S.A. Monkovsky - a collection of insects, M.S. Vvedensky - a herbarium. The subsequent acquisition of the museum collection was based on donations from the administration, Khabarovsk teachers, doctors, and businessmen. It is worth mentioning M.A. Sokovnin, E.V. Lopatin, A. Rozhdestvensky, V.I. Tyushev, S.N. Taskin, E. Nino and many others.

Nikolai Ivanovich Grodekov, governor-general and the first chairman of the Amur department of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society (POIRGO), deserves special credit for creating the museum..

He donated large personal funds for the organization of the museum, gathered richest ethnographic collections, purchased books, pictures, ancient coins and laid the foundation of the art department. In 1902 the Priamursky branch of the IRGO petitioned the Ministry of Internal Affairs to name the museum after Grodekov and received permission.

The pharmacy warehouse was a temporary home for the museum. Everyone understood this, and at the opening they were already talking about the need to build a new building. Soon it was decided to build a special building for the museum. The building committee was headed by N.I.Grodekov; the draft of the building was executed by N.F.Alexandrov, the project and estimate were done by the engineer L.O.Chaikovsky. He also supervised the construction. Most of the funds for the construction were raised from private donations of the citizens. In May 1896, collections of the museum, which by that time numbered over 10,000 items, were moved to the unfinished building. At the same time a 400-pood tortoise carved from granite was delivered from Ussuriysk to the museum building. It was part of the burial vault of the Jurchen military leader Esikui, who lived in the Middle Ages. Even today it stands in front of the museum's historic building and has become an integral part of the city environment and an object of urban legends.

Khabarovsk 1900s.

The official opening ceremony of the first third of the new building of Khabarovsk Museum took place on December 6, 1896. Emperor Nikolai II sent a congratulation telegram to Governor-General of Priamursk S. M. Dukhovskiy on this occasion. An exhibition was opened in the halls of the second and third floors. The construction of the building and the replenishment of collections continued. The most valuable additions to the museum's collection in 1897 were two skeletons of Steller's sea cow.

In 1898 a second, central part of the building was added to the museum, two stories, and in 1900 a third. 

The celebration of the consecration of the museum building took place on August 1, 1900, and was timed to coincide with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Russian flag planting at the mouth of the Amur River. The new director, Semyon Nikolaevich Vankov, bought 10 ancient fortress cannons for the museum and collected additional donations to complete the museum. He also built a fence around the museum from the guns, digged into the ground, and the original lattice, which has not survived to our time. The 1,160-square-meter exhibition halls were able to accommodate the systematized collections. The museum has rightly become "an ornament of Khabarovsk and the most extensive storehouse in the Amur region. In the same year, 1900, the Khabarovsk Museum took part in the World Exhibition in Paris, where it received a gold medal. 

Thanks to the passion of the people who stood at the origins of the museum, various kinds of science, the Khabarovsk museum was formed as a research institution.

Nevertheless, the Grodekovo museum met its first ten-year anniversary in a state of some decline. The aftermath of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 had its effect. Donations to the museum almost ceased, its activities, according to contemporaries, "were not very lively. The appropriations were barely enough to repair the ceilings and stoves. The natural science collections began to deteriorate. Revival of the museum's activity begins in 1910, when the famous by that time traveler and researcher Vladimir Klavdievich Arseniev is elected director.

"The "Arsenyev period" in the history of the museum was truly its "golden age. It was Arsenyev who laid the main directions in the museum's work that brought it fame and that still constitute the essence of its activity.

It was Arsenyev who laid the main directions of the museum's work, which brought it fame

Annual expeditions became a source of replenishment of museum collections. Ethnographic, zoological, archeological and other collections of V. K. Arseniev and his associates are of great scientific interest to this day. Arseniev united scientific forces of Khabarovsk and the Amur region. He regarded the museum business as nation-wide, attracting the public to collect his collections. A teacher of the Cadet Corps, a remarkable botanist N.A. Desulavi became a constant companion in expeditions and a colleague in the museum. Arseniev obtained the necessary funds to process the collections and invited the preparator V.V. Dombrovsky.

V.K. Arsenyev actively cooperated not only with local researchers, he established wide connections with scientists of Russia and foreign countries. Being the director of the museum, V.K. Arsenyev showed himself as a talented writer, having presented to the world the wonderful books "Across the Ussuriisk Region" and "Dersu Uzala". In 1918, after his return from the Kamchatka expedition, V.K. Arsenyev moved to Vladivostok, interrupting his stay as director of the Khabarovsk museum until October, 1924.

Four years of the Civil War and two postwar years were almost the most critical in the history of the museum. In January 1921 the official name "Grodekovsky museum of the Priamursky section of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society" was cancelled. The staff of the museum was reduced to the director and stompers. Were curtailed departments of history, industry and economy and arts. Collections died from the cold and damp.

In the 1920s, entering the system of Glavnauka, the museum intensified its scientific activity. The return of V.K. Arseniev to the post of director and his attracting experienced specialists helped the museum to get out of the crisis. In December 1924 a zoologist A.I. Kardakov was employed by the Museum, the famous taxidermist G.E. Solsky was invited from Irkutsk, and a young ethnographer N.A. Serk arrived from Leningrad University.

In 1926, V.K. Arseniev put the management of the Museum in the hands of Karl Yanovich Luks, the Commissioner of the Main Science Department. In the second half of the 1920s, the material base of the Museum was strengthened. The building has been thoroughly repaired, a working room with a library for research workers has been equipped, and the museum furniture and equipment for expeditions has been purchased. Cultural and educational work became widespread: the classes in school study groups were conducted, excursions around the city and the region were organized, traveling exhibitions, exhibitions to the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution, to the 70th anniversary of Khabarovsk and many others were prepared.

However, in the activities of all structures and institutions the features of direct state intervention and diktat began to appear more and more noticeably. The decisions of the First Museum Congress in 1930 urged museums to actively introduce the ideas of Marxism-Leninism into the public consciousness. The tendency "to show ideas, not things" was declared a priority in the exposition work of each museum. Nevertheless, the museum still retained the opportunity to participate in the study of scientific problems.

In the 1930s, insufficient funding, staff instability and a lack of specialists brought the museum into a period of protracted crisis. The stationary exposition began to be replaced by temporary and traveling exhibitions. The museum's transfer to the Academy of Sciences between 1936 and 1938 did not change the situation. The repressions of the 1930s worsened the personnel problems. In 1937-1939, six employees were arrested, including the director.

The situation of the museum deteriorated even more during the Great Patriotic War. Funding was sharply reduced, but the museum during all the war years continued to receive visitors, organized excursions, the staff gave lectures in the remotest corners of the region, conducted cycles of radio programs and publications, carried out an active exhibition work. The leading place was taken by the exhibitions devoted to the successes of the Red Army and the military history of the country.

After the war, funds were found for the current repairs of the building, the renewal of the expositions, the verification of the availability of the funds was carried out. In 1946, residents of the region had the opportunity to get acquainted with the new exposition of the department of socialist construction. At the same time, an expedition was organized for the purpose of surveying the places in the upper reaches of the Khor river, which resulted in 150 ethnographic objects and a herbarium of 200 plant species being added to the museum funds.

In the 1960s and 1970s, important socio-economic changes in the life of the country, the development of tourism and international contacts drew the attention of the state to museums. In the history of Khabarovsk local history museum this period was also marked by great transformations.

Vsevolod Petrovich Sysoyev, a well-known biologist and hunter-biologist and writer in the region, became the director of the Khabarovsk Museum. Without changing the structure of the museum, V. P. Sysoev introduced new initiatives in the work of the museum. A small staff, inspired by the ideas of renewal, did a great job on the re-exposition of all departments. The Museum's collection was enriched by such valuable and inseparable exhibits as the coat of arms of the Russian Empire, the ethnographic collection of Slavic settlers, the Himalayan bear's den with its inhabitant, the trunk of a thousand-year yew tree and many others.

In 1975, a new building with the total area of 1,650 square meters was added to the main building. It housed a unique panorama, The Battle of Volochayev, made by an employee of the Grekov Studio of Military Artists (Moscow) Andrei Gorpenko and the battle-painter Sergei Agapov.

As a result of active work with visitors and rapid development of domestic tourism the attendance of the Khabarovsk Krai Museum has increased sharply - 200 thousand people a year. The museum became an object of demonstration for the highest, government-level guests, who visited the region in the 60-80s of the twentieth century.

The museum was awarded the title "The Best Museum of the RSFSR" and received a challenge Red Banner of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR.

Successes in the work of the Khabarovsk Museum of Local Lore in those years were marked by high awards. It was awarded the title "The best museum of the RSFSR", received the challenge Red Banner of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR. But the highest reward for the work of the museum staff were the words of gratitude from both ordinary visitors, and distinguished guests. The outstanding scientist-archeologist, academician A.P. Okladnikov left an enthusiastic review about the Khabarovsk Museum: "There is no better book about the Far East than this one - the museum!"

In the 1980s, the scientific and methodological work of the museum was intensified. By order of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation it was declared the main scientific and methodical center of the Far Eastern region. The museum began to actively influence the development of the museum network of the region.

In the difficult period of the 1990s, the Khabarovsk Regional Museum needed to determine the vector of development and create conditions for economic survival. The new director Nikolai Ivanovich Ruban made significant efforts to make research activities the basis of the museum's development. Along with that the work on renewal of the museum's material base was intensified.

In 1994 - the year of the museum's centenary - Grodekov's name was returned to the museum. In 1996 the first scientific conference "Grodekov Readings" was held. In 2000, the museum was accredited as a scientific institution by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Russian Federation.

The Khabarovsk Krai Nature exposition was renewed, new expositions dedicated to ethnography of indigenous peoples of the Amur region and to the events of the Civil War in the Russian Far East were created. In 1998 in a separate building, a monument of federal importance "B.P. Lyubben's Apartment House" a Museum of Archeology was opened. At the same time, the Children's Museum Center was opened.

The completion of the new exposition system largely allowed the museum to win the "Window to Russia" contest in 2000 and to be recognized as the "Museum of the Year" among the regional museums of the Russian Federation.

At the end of the 20th century, international cooperation intensified and the geography of museum expeditions expanded. Museum staff visited the Okhotsk coast, Nikolayevsky, Tuguro-Chumikansky and Ayano-Maysky districts. Khabarovsk museum began to actively exchange exhibitions and exhibits with foreign museums. Exhibitions from Japan - "The Art of the Ainu" (Shiraoi), "Aomori - the Heart of Northern Japan" (Aomori) and the American city of Portland - "Cross Currents of the Great Ocean" visited Khabarovsk.

The opening of a new museum building in 2008, the creation of a system of brand new exhibitions - the Amur Museum, including modern innovative technologies, interactive Children's Museum, new exhibition halls and modern storage facilities, improving the technical conditions of the museum - all this is the result of the progressive development of the museum.

In 2011, the museum hosted an extended meeting of the Presidium of the Union of Museums of Russia and the Audit Commission of the Union of Museums of Russia with the participation of members of the Council of Representatives and heads of museums of the Far Eastern Federal District. A total of 98 people participated in the events. It was the first meeting of its Presidium held in the Far East.

From 2010 to 2013, the museum successively opened a series of historical exhibitions, carried out several stages of restoration of the pictorial panorama "Battle of Volochayev".

In 2011, the museum for the first time joined the International action "Night at the Museum", and since 2014 it became a member of the all-Russian action "Night of Art".

In 2012 an exhibition on the history of Orthodoxy, which covers a large historical period (from the end of the XVII century to the beginning of the XXI century) and has a broad geographical coverage (not only the Russian Far East, but also the Far Eastern countries) was opened.

In the year of the 120th anniversary of the museum (2014) the Museum Forum of the Far East "Museum - open book for all" was held, 2 new expositions were opened - "Governor's living room" in the building of the Museum and Cultural Center "Amur Utes" (1st stage) and an interactive exhibition "Labyrinths of Underground" in the Museum of Archaeology.

In 2021, after a complete reconstruction, the exposition "Traditional Culture of Khabarovsk Krai Peoples" was opened.

In 2021, after complete reconstruction, the exhibition Traditional Culture of Khabarovsk Krai Peoples opened, which presents more than 700 items of ethnography of the 19th - 21st centuries, many of which were collected in the late 19th century, when the museum itself was established, and represent unique examples of the traditional culture of the indigenous peoples of the Amur region. All the works were funded by Transneft-Far East LLC.

The museum is active in fundraising and is an annual winner of competitions for various charitable foundations. Such major exhibition projects as "Civil War Money. Game of Thrones" (2017), "Hehtsir Tales" (2018), "Peter Shimkevich. The Forgotten Journey" (2021), "Carpets of Priamurye" (2021). Catalogs of museum collections and exhibitions are published at the expense of charitable foundations and sponsors, and conferences are held.

From 2016 to 2020 Khabarovsk Krai Museum participated in the project "Collecting Russia", aimed at overcoming the isolation of regional museums and the formation of horizontal ties between them. Thanks to the project, organized with the support of the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation, residents of the city and the region were able to get acquainted with the material culture of the Russian hinterland, visiting the exhibitions "Collecting Russia. From the collection of the Murom Historical and Art Museum" (2016), "Collecting Russia. Permian Gods" (2017), "Collecting Russia. Veliky Novgorod" (2018), "Collecting Russia. 100% Ivanovo" (2020).

 Exchanging exhibitions with regional and federal museums is a mandatory part of exhibition activities. Every year the museum's exhibition halls host at least five exhibitions from federal museums of Russia, and the total number of exhibitions reaches 70 per year.

 In 2021, a large-scale intermuseum exhibition project "The Way to Meet" was launched, which presents the artistic heritage of the peoples of Russia in the regions forming the Eastern and Golden Ring. Objects from the 16 participating museums, many of which have not previously left the confines of the exhibition or even storage, make an art tour around the country. The project is implemented jointly with the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Breakthrough Foundation for Support of Business Programs and Projects, the ROSIZO State Museum and Exhibition Center, and the Russian Museum of Ethnography.

Intermuseum cooperation also develops at the level of the region in order to implement joint exhibition and educational, inclusive and educational projects, which will ensure maximum accessibility of historical and cultural heritage stored in the museums of Khabarovsk Krai. In 2019, the Association of Museums of Khabarovsk Krai was created, one of the founders of which is Grodekovsky Museum. The association has already united 17 museums. 

Grodekovo Museum as a methodological and scientific-educational center conducts seminars and workshops on current problems of museum business. Since the early 2000s, over 350 museum specialists have attended Grodekovo Museum courses and workshops. The specialists not only of the Grodekov Museum but also the employees of the leading museums of Moscow and St. Petersburg are involved for conducting courses and seminars. From this practice was born the idea of the creative and practice-oriented project "Museum Kitchen" (2018,2019), where the concept of "kitchen" allowed to go beyond theoretical forms of work and choose different "recipes" for professional growth.

Scientific research in the field of natural sciences, ethnography, archaeology, history, literary studies, and culturology remains a priority for the museum. The results of scientific research are published in collections of articles, catalogs, monographs, materials of all-Russian and international scientific conferences, exhibition and exposition solutions.

The museum collection to date is about 500 thousand items and continues to actively replenish. Systematic and painstaking work on the systematization of museum collections, in particular the publication of catalogs, is carried out. Over the past 10 years, the museum has published more than 16 catalogs of collections.

During the pandemic, the museum is reaching a new level of communication with the public and the professional community. And it is not just about introducing online interaction with potential audiences and colleagues into the usual practice, but also about rethinking the museum's place in the cultural field, expanding geography and communication channels, and a new approach to the collection and presentation of scientific material.

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