The Polytechnic Museum (Russian: Политехнический музей) is one of the oldest science museums in the world and is located in Moscow. It showcases Russian and Soviet technology and science, as well as modern inventions. It was founded in 1872 after the first All-Russian Technical Exhibition on the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great at the initiative of the Society of Devotees of Natural Science, Anthropology, and Ethnography. The first stage of the museum was designed by Ippolit Monighetti and completed in 1877. The north wing was added in 1896 and the south wing in 1907.
Polytechnic Museum, 2010
Location within Moscow
|Collection size||circa 160,000 items in 65 halls|
The Polytechnic Museum is the largest technical museum in Russia, and houses a wide range of historical inventions and technological achievements, including humanoid automata of the 18th century, and the first Soviet computers. The collection contains over 160,000 items in 65 halls including, chemistry, mining, metallurgy, transport, energy, optics, automation, computer engineering, radio electronics, communications, and space exploration. Highlights include the first achromatic telescope; an early solar microscope by German anatomists Johann Nathanael Lieberkühn; an early seismograph by Boris Borisovich Galitzine; galvanoplastics by Moritz von Jacobi; and early electric lights by Pavel Yablochkov.
The Society of Devotees of Natural Science was formed in Moscow in 1863. The society's first President was Gregory Ephimovich Shchurovsky and he together with other leading members of the society discussed having a museum. Their first move in this direction was to establish a library this held books documenting the history of science and technology. This became the Central Polytechnic Library but this established their ambitions. In 1871 Moscow council set aside half a million roubles to create a museum. A committee was formed with Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolayevich as an honorary chair. The formation of a museum was timely as Peter the Great's 200th anniversary would inspire the All-Russian Technical Exhibition that would be used to launch the new museum. The exhibits at the Exhibition were dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Peter the Great.
- The museum building in Novaya square in Moscow is a unique architectural monument, built especially for the museum by famous Russian architects Ippolit Monighetti, Alexander Kaminsky, August Weber.
- Museum of Applied Knowledge is the original purpose of the museum. The first display consisted of 9 departments closely related to applied sciences (physics, chemistry, architecture and others)
- THE AMPHITEATRE (aka Big Lectures Hall) is an important Moscow public site located in the museum building. Its opening in 1907 has enabled public demonstrations of scientific experiments, as well as lectures, debates, literary evenings, conferences. Niels Bohr, Élie Metchnikoff, Kliment Timiryazev, Alexander Blok, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Bulat Okudzhava and many other prominent figures of science and culture gave their speeches and lectures.
- During the First World War the museum was used as a hospital for the wounded people. It had a radiological office that was used by all Moscow medical facilities. After 1917 it hosted political rallies and meetings with the participation of Vladimir Lenin, Felix Dzerzhinsky.
- In July 1919 the museum was renamed as the Central Institute of polytechnic knowledge. The main focus of its work was research, dissemination of scientific knowledge in the field of natural sciences, mathematics, technology, and the economy. It was also supposed to acquaint the public with discoveries and inventions in these areas of knowledge.
- In the 1929-1930-s the whole display of the museum was distributed between three new sectors: general, industrial and agricultural; the museum laboratories lost their scientific and research meaning and became centers for advanced training of workers.
- The key point in the history of the museum was the All-Union Exhibition "Our Achievements" in 1934 that was opened in the honor of the XVII Congress of the CPSU(b). The exhibition was a huge demonstration of the victories of socialist-industry during Stalin's first five-year plan. After the reorganization in 1935 the exhibition "Our Achievements" became the basis of a new exhibition in the museum that underwent radical reorganization for this purpose. Permanent exhibits were split up into divisions reflecting the development of major industries in the country: energy, fuel industry, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, chemistry, agriculture, textile, and light industry, etc.
- Knowledge for the people! 1947 - museum falls under the control of "Znanie" society and the mission of education and dissemination of scientific and political knowledge comes to the fore.
- Science and Technology Museum. In the 1980-s the museum becomes the main museum of the Soviet Union that stores and displays in the history of Soviet science and technology.
- Polytechnic Museum today has a unique collection of exhibits - its funds consist of more than 200,000 items. The museum has about 150 thematic collections.
- Polytechnic Museum is also the founder of the Association of scientific and technical museums in Russia, along with the Central Museum of Railway Transport of the Russian Federation, the A.S. Popov Central Museum of Communications and "Museum world" magazine. The Polytechnic Museum is a scientific, organizational and methodological center of the Association of scientific and technical museums in Russia.
- Polytechnic Library was founded in 1862 and is a part of the Polytechnic Museum. The library keeps more than 3.5 million books in various fields of science and technology, including rare instances of bibliography dated back to the 16th to 18th centuries.
- Start of modernization. In April 2010 the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Russian government to develop the concept of a museum of Science on the basis of the Polytechnic Museum.
- Reconstruction of the historical building. In 2013, the historical building of the museum was closed for renovation. The display of the museum and its collections were moved to a temporary site in Moscow. In 2020 the Polytechnic Museum will be reopened for visitors in a renovated historic building.
As of January 1, 2013 the museum fund of the museum consisted of 229,348 items. The museum features about 150 museum collections of national and world importance. The funds of the museum are dominated by scientific and technical typological collections consisting of functional technical objects. They can be used as a source of information about the main stages and directions of the development of a particular type of technology.
A highlight of the museum is the collection of vehicles, including the sections Bicycles, Motorcycles, Cars. The pearl of the car collection is the world only surviving Russian car built before the Revolution Russo-Balt K12/20 released in 1911.
All technologies combined in the thematic fund "Electronics and Communication" is presented in the collections "Exchanges", "Sound recording and playback technique", "TV receivers", "Radio receivers". Museum collection "Telephones" shows the development of terminal telephone systems from Bell's receiver to modern mobile phones. The collection "Telegraph technique" includes all types of telegraph and facsimile techniques since the creation of the first electromagnetic machine by P.L. Schilling in 1832 and until 1980-s.
The collection of computing equipment is the most comprehensive display in Russia and includes rare copyrights devices, such as automated abacus by Viktor Bunyakovsky, one of the first models of Odner's adding machine, the only surviving copy of the domestic computer "Ural", hydraulic integrator by Vladimir Lukyanov, the world's only computer based on ternary logic, "Syetun" and many other rarities.
Start of modernization In April 2010 the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev instructed the Russian government to develop a concept of a museum of science on the basis of the Polytechnic Museum. Modernization of the museum is a large-scale state innovation project. The modernization program for 2017-2018 envisages the creation of a fundamentally new museum and educational center covering the greatest achievements of science, technology, and society.
- To create a modern functional and visitor-friendly museum space that meets the highest international requirements for museums in the 21st century, and to present a new modern display reflecting the most pressing issues of science, technology, and civilization in general.
- To implement the project of successful modernization of the largest science museums and technical in the country, the results of which can further be used by other Russian museums.
Tender for concept development On the basis of the decree of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Development Fund of the Polytechnic Museum held a tender for the development of the museum concept. As a result of a choice from 14 competitive bids provided by Russian and foreign companies specializing in museum design, British company Event Communications was selected.
From October 2010 to February 2011 Event Communications with the active participation of Russian experts and staff of the museum developed the concept of the museum of science on the basis of the Polytechnic Museum. The concept was coordinated by the Board of Trustees of the museum in February 2011 and approved by decree of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.
The concept of the museum provides, in particular, for the reconstruction of its historic building, the extension of educational areas and public spaces, and the development of educational and other communications programs for visitors of all ages.
The concept also includes updating the content and design of the permanent exhibition and its division into three sections – Matter, Energy & Information. These sections represent all major areas of science and technology, as well as interdisciplinary areas, including developing fields such as life-science.
Moreover, according to the concept, Moscow plans to create a second site - a museum and educational center of the Polytechnic Museum and Lomonosov MSU. that will be located in the campus of Moscow State University on Vorobyevy Gory.
Tender for the architectural concept of historical building reconstruction In accordance with the order of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation of 28 April 2011, a two-stage international architectural competition for the completion of an architectural project of reconstruction and restoration of the building of the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow was announced on 6 June 2011. The tender attracted a number of famous Russian and foreign architectural companies.
Finally, the concept of a Japanese architect Junia Ishigami was chosen as a winner.
The concept of a "museum - park" demonstrates a new approach to the historical building of the museum as a more open architectural object that plays an important role in the urban space.
The architectural concept by Junia Ishigami provides for extremely delicate attitude to historical restoration of the building. At the same time, the architect offered the covering of museum courtyards with innovative designs constructions that shall keep the same three-dimensional structure of the building, its shape in the urban landscape and at the same time increase the area of public spaces that are required by all contemporary museums. The basement of the building will be open for the visitors, thus creating an additional spatial volume that can play an important social role in the composition of the center of Moscow.
Tender for architectural concepts of the museum and educational center of the Polytechnic Museum and Lomonosov MSU. The tender for architectural concepts of the museum and educational center of the Polytechnic Museum and Lomonosov MSU was announced in October 2012. Projects were evaluated based on a number of criteria such as marketability, quality planning, urban planning, and conceptual solutions, as well as the planned level of spending on construction and operation. The winner of the competition was a consortium of two companies: Massimiliano Fuksas Architetto (Italy) and Speech (Russia). The winners designed a three-story building on the glazed two-level basis, 9.2 m high, with the volume of the upper level making up 25 m, a terrace level that is about 6.4 m high, 2 underground levels, as well as an open-plan lounge with passages to different zones.
In the future, the museum and educational center are expected to take an important place in the life of Moscow, to become a multi-functional cultural and educational center, a platform of communication for both the scientific community and the general audience interested in modern science. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.
Sites of the Polytechnic Museum at the time of reconstruction On 9 January 2013 permanent exhibitions of the museum were closed to visitors. During the time of reconstruction all fund, exposition and educational activities of the museum will be conducted in three major venues in Moscow.
Exposition "Russia Does It Itself" will be placed in Pavilion No. 26 (former transport pavilion) of the WEC. The main idea of the exhibition is to introduce visitors to the achievements of Russian science and technology as a significant part of the global scientific context. At the time of reconstruction of the historical building, the WEC site will not only serve as a representative of the museum but also become an active space for development and introduction of modern technologies and methods of museum communication that will later be widely used in the modernized museum.
The display in the Transport pavilion is scheduled to open in spring 2014.
The funds of the museum during the period of reconstruction will be located in the former AZLK as well as the museum library.
Since autumn 2013 a lecture hall of the museum and a research laboratory for children has been working in the ZIL Cultural Center.
Areas of activity During the renovation of the historic building, the Polytechnic Museum will operate on temporary and partner sites in Moscow and regions. The main areas of work will be exhibitions, lectures, conferences, festivals and other projects that meet the core mission of the museum - the popularization of science and enlightenment.
Museum exhibition activities are implemented jointly with various Russian and foreign partners. For example, the Polytechnic Museum presented the international exhibition Science Tunnel of Max Planck that has been successfully displayed all over the world for 13 years. One of the most vivid and memorable interactive exhibits was Game: A Look into the Future organized by the Polytechnic Museum on the site in ZIL cultural center together with the Science Gallery (Dublin, Ireland) and a team of world-famous game designers, artists, game developers, and curators. Exhibition Inventing the Bicycle that took place in the WEC gained much popularity. It presented exhibits from the funds of the museum and other private and museum collections.
Polytechnic Museum has an active exhibition program in the regions on the partner sites of other museums (in Yaroslavl, Tula, Vologda, Rybinsk and other cities).
Educational programs of the museum include a variety of areas for children and adults. Scientific laboratories of the Polytechnic Museum are fun and informative workshops that take place in the form of games. The programs have been developed by the best scientists specifically for children and the lessons are given by wonderful young teachers. During training, the children not only get additional knowledge about different disciplines but also carry out their own research, as well as create exhibits for displays. Today the museum offers laboratories in chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, robotics, as well as a children's center of automotive design and a children's lecture hall. Moreover, in September 2013 a University of Children was opened. This is an educational project of the museum created in partnership with HSE (Higher School of Economics). The University of Children is a center of additional education for pupils aged 8–11. During lectures and seminars, university students make experiments and carry out their own research with the help of scientists and experts from different fields of science.
September 2013 was distinguished by the start of the Festival of the Science Culture Polifest - an outdoor science holiday that was held in the Industry square of WEC.
Since 2011, the Polytechnic Museum has been organizing a Contemporary Science Film Festival 360°, showing visitors from Moscow and other regions the best documentaries from around the world that received awards at major international festivals. Most of the films are Russian premieres, and the festival has always had full houses in cinemas, partner universities, and other sites, wherever the screenings take place.
In 2013, together with the RIA Novosti news agency, the museum launched a topical educational project Science Monday, aimed at the promotion of modern science. The project shows the best documentaries on scientific topics. The purpose of the project is to unite people of different generations that share the ideals of self-education and enlightenment. Also, the project aims to promote the development of science journalism. The viewers are invited to become participants in the dialogue, allies or opponents of the filmmakers.
In September 2013, in partnership with The World Science Festival the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow presented a contemporary reading of the legend of Icarus—a multimedia performance Icarus at the Edge of Time, based on the eponymous book by the famous scientist, theoretical physicist, professor at Columbia University, Brian Greene, one of the most famous contemporary composers Philip Glass and video artists duo Al + Al. The premiere took place in Moscow in the presence of the author.
In 2013, the Polytechnic Museum joined the board of the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Science and Technology ICIMUSET of International Council of Museums ICOM under the aegis of UNESCO.
In addition to its function as a museum, the Polytechnic Museum has been an important place for the dissemination of science and culture in Russian. From 1913 to 1918 it was the centre of discussions about Russian avant-garde, with public lectures given by Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burlyuk, Andrei Bely, Alexei Kruchenykh, Velimir Khlebnikov. In the period of the Khrushchev thaw, its main auditorium was the place for public performances of Andrei Voznesensky, Robert Rozhdestvensky and Bulat Okudzhava. This was also a place for popular science lectures given by Élie Metchnikoff, Alexander Fersman and Niels Bohr.
- Polytechnic Museum, History
- Polytechnical museum, The Museum Collections
- The Polytechnical Museum opened in Moscow, Presidential Library, Retrieved 17 November 2015
- Viktor Bunyakovsky
- In 1936 Soviet scientist Lukyanov built an analog water computer
- Derek Anderson (30 September 2010). "U.K.-Irish Firm to Revamp Museum". The Moscow Times.
Event Communications was selected from a shortlist of four firms by a 16-member jury that included Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev, Rusnano head Anatoly Chubais, presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich and representatives of several European museums. The other three contenders were the Spanish CosmoCaixa, the U.S. Ralph Appelbaum Associates and U.S.-Canadian Lord Cultural Resources.
- Vladimir Markov, Russian Futurism: A History, University of California Press, 1969,
- About Public Lectures at the Polytechnical Museum (in Russian)
- Polytechnic Museum
- Photos of the museum
- State Polytechnic Museum (Moscow)
- Polytechnic Museum — 3d model
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