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In 1894 was created the Priamursky section of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. A memorandum addressed to the Governor-General of the Priamurye Territory Sergey Mikhailovich Dukhovsky on the necessity of opening a geographical society branch in the Far East was drafted by Vasily Nikolaevich Radakov (1836-1910), military medical inspector of the Priamurye Military District, actively engaged in zoological and anthropological research, who later became the first director of the Grodekovsky Museum. "The natural conditions of the Amur region are highly varied... In it, the polar nature encounters almost tropical flora and fauna. Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Yukaghirs, Ainu and other non-Russian people trade in the same place and in the same area you can meet Buryat datsans, Chinese kumirs, shaman sacrificial trees and Ainu-Oori bear cults...". Which determined the main profile of the future IRGO PO museum - natural-historical and ethnographic.

At the suggestion of S. M. Dukhovskiy, Nikolai Ivanovich Grodekov (1843-1913), the first assistant to S. M. Dukhovskiy, was elected the chairman of the young Priamursky department of IRGO.

N.I. Grodekov, with his usual vigor, began to replenish the museum's collections.

Thanks to N.I. Grodekov the main collections of the museum were formed: natural science, historical and everyday life, archeological, numismatic.

Besides, N.I. Grodekov initiated various natural-science and ethnographic expeditions, supported researchers who devoted their time to little-studied territories and nationalities of the region. Many items collected during expeditions, at Nikolai Ivanovich's insistence, went into the museum's collection (materials collected by P.P. Shimkevich, N.L. Gondatti, V.K. Arseniev, etc.).

The foundation of the natural science collection was laid in 1894, simultaneously with the opening of the museum. In May 1894, the Museum had "... up to 450 rooms in zoology, not counting 15 boxes with collections of insects and up to 100 jars with spirit preparations, ..., 3 herbaria in botany ...". The first director of the museum, V.N. Radakov, put a lot of effort into the arrangement of this section of the exposition and the funds.

It was during this period that a unique object, an almost complete skeleton of the now extinct Steller's sea cow (1897), came into the museum.

Then, an equally unique skeleton of the fin whale, one of the largest animals on our planet. This was a gift from Earl G. G. Keyserling in 1900, head of the powerful industrial organization "Pacific Whaling and Fishing Society of Gr. G. G. Keyserling & Co.о"The skeleton was assembled at the end of 1902. At the end of 1902, the assembly and installation of the skeleton for viewing was completed. The whale skeleton is currently on display in the closed gallery of the Amur Museum.

Most donations to the museum came from Prokopiy Trifonovich Bykov, a Cossack of the Kozlovskaya District Cossack Association, the future first preparator of the museum. As early as the beginning of 1893, he donated 323 specimens of beetles of rare species, 60 specimens of hymenoptera, about 420 of scales, skins of birds, animals and turtles, alcohol solutions of fish, horns of guran, and samples of charcoal. In the same year later - a stuffed Siberian squirrel. In 1894 he was offered to be a preparator in the museum. In the "Brief history of the Priamursky department of the IRGO" it was said that "big stuffed animals were made by P.T. Bykov as a preparator of the Museum: a walrus, an elk, two bears, a bear cub, a tiger with a boar, a cabbage and other various animals: 12 animals, 20 birds and 9 fish". Cooperation with the museum PT Bykov continued in subsequent years. He gave over 50 ethnographic objects (1897, 1909) and a collection of butterflies (1901).

The formation of the museum's ethnographic collection began in 1893-1894 when preparations for the creation of the museum were underway. Already on March 5, 1895 (less than a year later) the Priamurskie Vedomosti newspaper described the ethnographic collection of the Khabarovsk POIRGO museum as extremely rich and diverse. In 1895-1896 an official on special assignments to the Priamur Governor General P. P. Shimkevich (1862-1920) gathered an interesting collection on the ethnography of the Evenks, the Yakuts, the Negidals and the Nanai. In the second half of 1896, a large collection on Chukchi culture was presented to the Museum by N.L. Gondatti (1860-1946), head of the Anadyr district.

The beginning of the Asia-Pacific countries collection is connected with the name of a Khabarovsk merchant of Chinese origin Tifontai, who in 1895 gave the museum the robe of a rich Chinese woman. Already by the beginning of 1896 the exhibits on the culture of Japan, China and Korea together with ethnographic objects amounted to 1012 rooms. In the second half of 1897, A. S. Bogdanov, the son of a famous Khabarovsk merchant, donated to the museum "a Chinese copper vase for candles on the altar from the town of Bayan-su on the Sungari River" - a Chinese ritual temple cauldron for candles.

In one of the first reports of the Priamursky section of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society there are the following lines: "In general, there was general sympathy for the museum, expressed in donations not only by members of the department and intellectuals in general, but also by common people. For example, one boy donated a Japanese coin of two hay...". 

By the beginning of the 20th century, the museum's numismatic collection had already taken shape in general terms. When in 1903 the necessity arose to hand over the Museum because its director V.K. Brazhnikov was about to leave, K.E. Pfaffius, the head of the POIRGO department, wrote: "At the present time the collections of the Museum are so valuable (the numismatic collection alone costs several thousand) that it would be too risky to let the property slide". In 1905, the first museum numismatic exhibition was held, which presented Russian coins to visitors and became a permanent part of the exposition.

N.I. Grodekov considered it necessary to have for display to Khabarovsk audience the items related to the development of the Amur Region, reflecting the heroic history of returning the Amur River to Russia in the mid-19th century.

Already in the beginning of 1896 N.I. Grodekov sent to the Cossack armies his letters and telegrams with the request to send him samples of old Cossack weapons and uniforms of the times of Count N.N. Muravyov-Amursky.

The uniforms for the museum were prepared by the Cossacks of the Transbaikal Cossack troops, which was reported to N.I. Grodekov by E.O. Matsievsky in his letter.

The Chancellor ataman of the Transbaikal Cossack Army Evgeny Osipovich Matsiyevsky (1893-1901) was a highly educated and intelligent man. As military governor of Transbaikalian region, he contributed to the opening of the Transbaikal Spiritual Consistory, a female diocesan school, a female gymnasium, the first trade school, a museum and library. E.O. Matsievsky supported the initiative of creating the Chita branch of the IRGO and became its first chairman in 1894. He actively cared about replenishing the collections not only of the Chita Museum, but also of the Khabarovsk Natural History Museum.

By order of E.O. Matsievsky specially for display in the Khabarovsk museum "there were three copies of a chekmen with trousers: one of a mounted Cossack with his sidearms, one of an artillerist and one of a foot squad leader; a hats of a footman, a cap of a mounted Cossack and one ... kushak". It was impossible to get old suits, so by order of E.O.Matsiyevsky it was decided to bring to the Museum standard suits. 70 roubles were allocated from the funds of the chancellery of army board to "make the uniform", the expenses were compensated by the PO IRGO. The uniform was delivered by lieutenant colonel Belkovich. It is not known, if the Cossack uniforms of the first rafting times were delivered to the museum or if the funds were transferred to ZKV for the work on replenishing the museum collections, because the correspondence ends there.

In September 1897 E.O. Matsievsky sent to the museum on request of N.I. Grodekov two rifles of old systems, formerly in service of Cossacks.

"Two rifles with their accessories: one of the Karle system and the other seven-line rifle" were sent to the museum in November 1897 from the Kamen-Rybolov settlement in the Primorsky Region. Moreover the commander of the Ussurian Cossack division, military petty officer Tokmanov (?) assured the chairman of the PO IRGO Ivan Pavlovich Nadarov, that in the near future he will send other old-style weapons to the museum as well, "if the population of the division will have them.

However N.I. Grodekov forbade to take away the weapons owned by Cossacks and asked to send to the Khabarovsk museum only the samples stored in the arsenals of stanitsas of Kozlovskaya or Kazakevichovskaya, which he personally inspected. First of all, it was about the Littich rifle with two rifle rifles.

In the summer of 1901 a wooden cannon was donated to the museum, built to the design of the chief of the 2nd section of the 2nd section of the Amur basin waterways A. Kalyuyevskaya in July 1900 to protect telegraph line Pokrovka to Blagoshensk. Kalyuzhny in Chernyaeva station of AKV in July 1900 for protection of telegraph line from Pokrovka to Blagoveshensk from Chinese. The cannon was made of "smoky tube, coiled by steel telegraph wire, heated till red, in two layers, breech part in three layers, the bottom of tube was riveted by a plate one inch thick and wrapped by wire and poured by copper and the whole tube, with coiled wire on it, The tube is covered with copper solder, so it is a kind of twisted barrel, compact mass, which in its turn was enclosed in a wooden body, consisting of 4 carefully fitted birch bars, on which the tire iron rods are bent in a red-hot state. The cannon has withstood more than a hundred shots, with cannonballs and buckshot. The charge is calculated in proportion to the weight of the berdanium cartridge and equals 3/8 of a pound of powder. It shoots quite correctly at the target, for which it has a sight adjusted by test firing. Range of the cartridge is up to 250 sazhens, nucleus up to 1.5 versts...".[1].

In 1898 despite the appointment to the high post of the Amur Governor General, and leaving the post of the Chairman of IRGO, N.I. Grodekov continued to care about the development of the museum.

Thanks to numerous donations, the number of exhibits in the museum quickly increased. At the time of its opening (April 19, 1894), the museum contained about a thousand exhibits, and a month later the collections were placed in five rooms of the pharmacy warehouse. On August 1, 1900, the museum was inaugurated in its own building, specially built for its needs.

In 1900, the museum took part in the world exhibition in Paris. The museum received a gold medal for its unique collection.

List of photos:

Grodekovo Museum in the early twentieth century.

[1] In the quotation the spelling and punctuation of the document is preserved.

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