The Most Mysterious Museum Exhibits of Russia

Here are 10 most fascinating ones

There are a lot of exhibits in museums of Russia, which are associated with legends, superstitions or simply interesting stories. Here are 10 most fascinating ones.

1. Feodosian earrings

Museum: the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

A pair of earrings was found during excavations in the Crimean city of Feodosia in 1853. And their design is really amazing! There are intricate ornaments and a tiny chariot with the goddess of victory Nika accompanied by winged geniuses. And nearby there is a soldier with a big shield ... Some elements of decoration can be seen only using high-power magnification. Their manufacturing technology is still a mystery: apparently, the earrings were made in the 4th century BC using microscopic gold grains, which can be seen only with a magnifying glass. None of the modern jewelers have been able to reproduce the item made 2.5 thousand years ago.

None of the modern jewelers have been able to reproduce the item made 2.5 thousand years ago

2. Geisha O-Matsu

Museum:: Kunstkamera, Saint Petersburg

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) exhibits a fascinating doll the size of a man. This is a portrait of geisha Moeraki O-Matsu. According to legend, in the early 1890s, it was brought to Russia among other curiosities by Tsarevich (Crown Prince) Nicholas, the future Emperor Nicholas II, after his trip to Japan. The famous Japanese sculptor Kawashima Jimbei made the doll according to the order of the Tsarevich. What was the reason of such order of Nicholas? Why didn't he kept the doll in his private rooms? Oh, that's an interesting story...

3. The Great Imperial Crown and Scepter

Museum:: the Diamond Fund, Moscow

The Great Imperial Crown and Scepter are the most famous exhibits of the Diamond Fund. And they are also the most mysterious exhibits, primarily thanks to the Orlov diamond, which adorns the imperial scepter. It is said that this precious stone was found in India and was considered the eye of the Buddha, then it changed many owners until Count Orlov gave it to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great... Many legends are associated with this diamond, and superstitious people say that it was cursed in ancient times. Did the curse affect Catherine? Museum workers can answer this question.

4. The Romanovs' Tercentenary Ring

Museum: the Museum of Moscow

Several gold rings with diamonds were made in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanovs — as distinctive signs for the members of the dynasty. The exact number of rings is unknown, but each of them had the shape of a kokoshnik and was decorated with a coat of arms (double-headed eagle) with 49 diamonds and one cut diamond, there were also engraved dates on the bezel: 1613–1913.

The location of most of the rings is unknown. But one of them is now kept in the Museum of Moscow – it was... bought on the market in the 1960s. At the same time, experts have no doubts about its authenticity. But who was the mysterious seller and how they received the Imperial ring – this secret is still undiscovered.

Experts have no doubts about the ring's authenticity. But who was the mysterious seller and how they received the Imperial ring – this secret is still undiscovered

5. The Golden Peacock

Museum: the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

The golden mechanical clock in the form of birds, including a peacock, was made by the English mechanic James Cox by order of Prince Grigory Potemkin as a gift to the Russian Empress Catherine the Great. To deliver the gift to Russia, the clock had to be disassembled, but it was impossible to assemble them properly again. Only 15 years later, the precious birds "came to life" again thanks to the brilliant Russian craftsman Ivan Kulibin. However, the craftsman came up with a rather daring trick with the peacock. At the most crucial moment, when the clock begins to strike, the peacock spreads its tail and turns its back to the public... that is, the audience sees the golden bird's rump. They say the craftsman came up with this not just as a joke, he was really offended by the royals.

6. Tomb of Homer

Museum: the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

It is still not proven that Homer had existed in reality. But the Hermitage exhibits his tomb in the Jupiter's Hall... How can that be? And why this ancient sarcophagus has such different walls in completely different styles, as if they were made by people who lived in different eras?

7. Faceted Glass

Museum: the Bratsk Museum of Light, the Moscow Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, etc.

Many legends are associated with the famous Soviet faceted glass. It is believed that it was invented by sculptor Vera Mukhina. The one who created the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman sculpture. One legend says that 476 faceted glasses placed on each other are equal in height to this famous sculpture.

It is believed that the first glasses rolled off the production line in the city of Gus-Khrustalny on September 11, 1943, and since then September 11 is celebrated as the Day of Faceted Glass. In addition, it is said that in the late 1980s, numerous faceted glasses began to explode, and it was allegedly associated with the anti-alcohol campaign of the Soviet government...

Although, historians say that faceted glasses were used in Russia back in the days of Emperor Peter the Great. However, while visiting museums, you will probably hear many more legends related to this famous thing.

8. Matryoshka (Nesting Doll)

Museum: the Matryoshka Museum (Moscow), the Sergiev Posad Museum-Reserve (Sergiev Posad)

Sometimes it seems that matryoshka is a symbol of Russia, which has always existed. Meanwhile, it appeared a little more than a hundred years ago. Even the author's name is known: matryoshka is believed to be invented by a lathe operator Vasily Zvezdochkin. In 1900, matryoshka was exhibited at the World Exhibition in Paris and was awarded a bronze medal.

However, matryoshka has a problem with the "place of birth." Employees of the Moscow Museum claim that their building is located in that very place where Zvezdochkin lived, so matryoshka "was born" at 7 Leontievsky Lane, Moscow. But the citizens of Sergiev Posad also believe that matryoshka was created in their town! To resolve this contradiction, you'd better visit both museums.

9. Bunker-42 at Taganka

Location: Moscow

The underground Bunker-42 itself is a huge exhibit. It is located at a depth of 65 meters (18 underground floors) and covers an area of 7,000 square meters. This is a real bunker, built in the 1950s as a shelter to save people in case of possible nuclear bombing. According to the documents, this secret facility was built as an additional metro station, and indeed, the tunnels from this bunker have exits to Taganskaya metro station.

The bunker was declassified only in the 2000s. And now it is a museum complex: here you can see command posts, warehouses for weapons, equipment and products, communications, and labyrinths of corridors. You can try on a special outfit and participate in an unusual historical quest.

10. The Amber Room

Museum: the Catherine Palace, the city of Pushkin

The Amber Room is the most grandiose work of all ever made from amber. It has absorbed all the best achievements of craftsmen who are engaged in artistic processing of this stone.

The main mystery of the Amber Room is that no one knows where it is. During the World War II, the Nazis occupied Tsarskoye Selo (the town of Pushkin). And the Amber Room that had adorned the Catherine Palace for more than 200 years was taken to Koenigsberg (modern Kaliningrad), where it was installed in one of the halls of the Royal castle. Then it was lost. The castle itself was destroyed during the war, but it is said that the Amber Room is still hidden deep in its cellars. The search has lasted for several decades, but so far no one has been able to find anything.

But what do we see now in the Catherine Palace? This is the result of the complex and laborious work of dozens of experts – scientists, museum workers, restorers, historians, and craftsmen – who had been restoring the Amber Room for many years.

The history of the restoration of this exhibit is no less interesting and mysterious than the history of its existence. It's worth seeing and hearing!

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