Tourist Information Center Partnership Project

Museums of the Russian Arctic

The Arctic is a territory with an extreme climate, harsh yet generous beauty, and is a homeland for many peoples. Museums devoted to the Arctic offer the chance to get to know its natural and cultural riches, to learn about the heroic deeds of pioneers, and to get into the spirit of discovery.

Taimyr Local Lore Museum
30 ul. Sovetskaya, Dudinka
+7 (39191) 5-06-74
Dudinka Port, situated beyond the 69th parallel, is an old Russian outpost in the Arctic. In 1937, a museum devoted to the area’s rich heritage was built here. Today, the museum’s exhibitions are housed in a new, contemporary building. The main exhibition hall on the ground floor is a space for the arts. The museum is particularly proud of the heritage of Boris Nikolaevich Molchanov, the first professional artist of the Dolgans. The first floor houses the “Man and Nature” exposition. It includes numerous paleontological rarities, including a mammoth skeleton in incredible condition, found in 2012 on the bank of the Yenisei river. The ethnographic sections display the material culture and spiritual practices of the peninsula’s indigenous peoples: the Nganasans, the Dolgans, the Enets, the Nenets, and the Evenkis. Among its unique exhibits are costumes and ritual accessories which belonged to shamans. The historical exhibit on the second floor is devoted to the development of the land in 17th–21st centuries.
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“Lenin” Nuclear Icebreaker
“Lenin” Atomic Icebreaker Jetty, 25 Portovy Proezd, Murmansk
+7 8152 55 35 12 / 13
The world’s first atomic icebreaker was built at the Admiralty Shipyard in Leningrad, and first set sail on December 3, 1959, and throughout its lifetime, it led more than 3,700 vessels through the Arctic ice. After being in operation for 30 years, “Lenin” was permanently anchored in Murmansk near the Seaport Terminal and transformed into a unique museum. Guided tours are available to some historic parts of the vessel. Visitors can see portraits of former captains of the vessel and its famous guests in the companion cabin, and get to grips with the structure of the atomic turbine in the turbo-generator compartment and the atomic reactor. In the control operating room, you can learn about how the icebreaker breaks ice, and in the PDC (power and damage control center) you get to stand behind the wheel in the control room. A state-of-the-art multimedia exposition – “The Atom and the Arctic” – is also on display on board the icebreaker. It covers the nature of the Arctic, the history of the icebreaker fleet in Russia, and the stages of exploration of the Northern Sea Route.
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The Russian State Arctic and Antarctic Museum
24a ul. Marata, St. Petersburg
+7 (812) 571-25-49
This museum, founded in 1930, was created with the involvement of the distinguished academics and Arctic explorers O.Yu. Schmidt and Yu.M. Shokalsky. After opening for visitors in 1937, the museum immediately began to explain current events in the Arctic, such as the Papanin Drifting Station. In the 1950s, a time of active Antarctic exploration, its collections were replenished with artefacts from expeditions to the Earth’s southern polar regions.
The museum’s three main exhibits are dedicated to Arctic nature, the history of exploration and development of the Northern Sea Route, and the nature and exploration of the Antarctic. Visitors can see fragments of the first Arctic vessels, models of nuclear icebreakers, drifting and polar stations, exhibits dedicated to the rescue of the Chelyuskin crew, and the first trans-arctic flight by V.P. Chkalov, along with equipment and expedition gear, maps, unique printed editions, and valuable photo documents.
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A.A. Borisov Museum of Artistic Exploration of the Arctic
3 ul. Pomorskaya, Arkhangelsk
+7 (8182) 20 56 47
The artist Aleksandr Borisov, an apprentice of Shishkin and Kuindzhi, was passionate about the exploration of the North and was the founder of Arctic painting. The artist’s unique works, brought back from the polar regions in the early 20th century, were very popular not just in Russia but abroad, too. His heritage – about 400 canvases – were the beginnings of the collection of the modern Museum of Artistic Exploration of the Arctic, which was opened in 2002 in a historic building from the late 19th century.
Today, visitors are welcomed into the “Borisov’s Travels Abroad” and “The Studio in Krasnoborsk” halls. In the multimedia space, the master’s Arctic landscapes are complemented with photos, videos and sound effects. On the first floor, visitors can find the works of other northern masters, including those of the Nenets narrator and artist Tyko Vylki, together with Nenets art and craft items. In the evenings, concerts are organized.
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The Northern Maritime Museum
80 Severnaya Dvina embankment, Arkhangelsk
+7 (8182) 20-55-16
Arkhangelsk is the first international sea port in Russia, the birthplace of national shipbuilding, and a starting point for polar expeditions. The Northern Maritime Museum is located in the historic center of the city, in the building of the former seaport terminal. It was created in 1970s by sailors from the Northern Shipping Company and dedicated to the exploration of the sea routes of the Arctic.
In the main exhibition space, designed like a sailboat, the history of northern maritime activity is told using carefully crafted models of ships – from a coast-dwellers’ koch to icebreakers. Authentic artefacts from the cost-dwellers’ maritime culture, tacking and ship fragments, ship instruments, rare printed books, ancient maps and archival documents are displayed here. Themed guided tours cover important episodes from the history of Arkhangelsk, including discoveries and the astonishing fates of the pioneers. What’s more, visitors can stand behind the wheel, toll a ship’s bell, and learn how to tie sailors’ knots.
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The Arctic Development Museum
7 ul. Trusova, Tiksi settlement, Bulunsky ulus, Republic of Sakha
+7 (41167) 5 29 50
The history of the Tiksi settlement which stands on the coast of the Laptev Sea is closely associated with the history of the Northern Sea Route. In 1976, a museum dedicated to this history was opened here. Today, the museum’s collection includes more than 1,000 items. In the Sakha People Hall, visitors can learn about the traditions and folk crafts of the indigenous Yakut people. Here you can find a collection of bone carvings from the 19–20th centuries, which the museum is particularly proud of. The Local Lore Hall describes the nature of the Far North and its wild denizens. The exhibits of the Maritime Hall and the Arctic Pioneers Hall include model ships, steering wheels, ship bells and anchors, ancient maps, and sea voyage routes. Documents and archive photographs show the dramatic chapters from the tale of Arctic exploration, including the expeditions of G. De Long (1881) and E. Toll (1900–1902). Works by contemporary artists from Yakutia are on display in the picture gallery.
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Krassin Icebreaker
St . Petersburg, Lieutenant Schmidt embankment, 23 line
+7 (812) 325-35-47
This Arctic icebreaker from the Russian – and later Soviet – fleet is one of the most famous ships in history. During its long life, it participated in many globally significant events. The icebreaker distinguished itself during the rescue of the crew of Umberto Nobile’s expedition, following the wrecking of the zeppelin “Italia” and the ship “Monte Cervantes” in 1928. During the Second World War, the ship took part in sea battles and heroically led convoys along the Northern Sea Route. In 1972, it was transformed into a research vessel.
The icebreaker finished its working duty in the early 1990s and received the status of a historical landmark. Today, the “Krassin” is a branch of the Museum of the World Ocean. Visitors can access the upper deck and the companion cabin, look into the captain’s and the expedition head’s cabins, the chart house and the pilot house. You can also learn about the heroic deeds of the icebreaker crew, and the life and work of the sailors in polar conditions. Themed exhibits and reading evenings are also organized on board the ship.
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I.S. Shemanovsky Yamalo-Nenets District Museum and Exhibition Complex
38 ul. Chubynina, Salekhard, Yamalo-Nenetsk Autonomous District
+7 (349) 224-78-34
In 1906, hegumen Hirenarchus of the Obdor Orthodox Mission (secular name – Ivan Semenovich Shemanovsky) opened the “Repository of Collections on the Ethnography of non-Slavs of the Tobolsk North”. Subsequently, based on this collection, the Yamalo-Nenets District Museum of Local Lore was founded, and later became the I.S. Shemanovsky Nenets District Museum Exhibition Complex in 2002. It includes exhibits, an academic library, and a memorial apartment for the Nenets writer Leonid Laptsuy. The museum’s collections include over 118,000 exhibits, and the library features over 13,000 books and manuscripts. The collections in the museum complex are devoted to archeology, paleontology, ethnography, and the history and nature of Yamal. Among the most important and truly unique exhibits are a mummified baby mammoth – “Lyuba” – which was found at Yamal in 2007 in amazing condition, and a mummified inhabitant of the peninsula who died in the 13th century. Interactive stands and short films provide detailed information.
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“Pustozersk” Historic and Cultural Landscape Reserve Museum
4 ul. Tyko Vylki, Naryan-Mar, Nenets Autonomous District
+7 (818-53) 4-50-99
Pustozersk, founded at the end of the 15th century by order of Ivan III, served as an administrative and spiritual centre of the Pechersky Region – the main staging post for merchants’ carts and research expeditions on the way to Siberia and the Arctic, as well as a destination for exile and imprisonment. It was in this jail that the convicted protopope Avvakum, the leader of the dissent, lived out his final days. Since the late 18th century, Pustozersk has been gradually losing its significance, and in the early 1960s, the last inhabitants left.
The museum of the ancient city is located in the center of Naryan-Mar, in an old peasant’s house, formerly owned by the Shevelevs, which was transported from Pustozersk. A permanent exhibition – “Northern House; its Look and Soul” – is dedicated to the everyday life of Pustozersk’s inhabitants. Another exhibition displays local archeological findings. From here, guided tours depart to the ancient Pustozersk settlement and surrounding areas, and to the memorial section of the neighboring village Ustye, whose landmarks include the building of one of three churches which once operated in Pustozersk.
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