The State Historical Museum (GIM) is Russia’s largest national historical museum. Founded in 1872, the building on Red Square (near Kremlin Wall) in Moscow was designed in 1875-1883 according to the project of architect Vladimir Sherwood and engineer Anatoly Semyonov. Since 1990, it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Red Square ensemble.
The Moscow City Duma provided the site for construction, ordering the demolition of the building of the Main Pharmacy that stood there. Emperor Alexander II personally laid the first stone in the museum’s foundation.
The builders of the museum used the most modern technologies of their time. Anatoly Semyonov personally controlled the quality of the materials. Deliveries came from Bryansk, St. Petersburg, and later from Lorraine and Dortmund. Brickwork was fastened with cement, internal floors were made of metal structures, and all pipes and wires were removed from the walls.
From 1879 to 1881, construction was stopped due to a lack of funding. For the same reason, abandoning the façade’s design with tiles was necessary. Finally, however, work resumed in preparation for the coronation of Alexander III.
On May 29, 1881, the almost finished museum received the status of a state institution and, at the same time, a new name – the Imperial Russian Historical Museum. The museum began to be supported by funds from the treasury under the control of the Ministry of Finance. From December 10, 1882, it oversaw the Ministry of Public Education.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the museum’s library contained about 18,000 books. The fund was replenished with the Moscow and Russian Archaeological Societies collections, Moscow University, and many private donors.
The annual number of visitors was about 40 thousand people, and the number of exhibition halls increased to 16.
In 1905, Pyotr Ivanovich Shchukin donated to the museum the collection of his Museum of Antiquities, which numbered about 300 thousand items (works of jewelry, iconography, painting, facial sewing, manuscripts). In the same year, according to the will of Alexei Petrovich Bakhrushin, a collection of about 2 thousand items and 25 thousand books was transferred to the museum.
Among the patrons were representatives of all classes, including members of the imperial families, noble families (Dashkovs, Obolenskys, Golitsyns, Uvarovs, Olsufievs), and eminent collectors who provided the museum with both individual items and entire collections.
Today the modern State Historical Museum fund has more than 5 million items and 14 million sheets of documentary materials. The permanent exhibition in the building on Red Square contains only 0.5% of the total collection. The number of visitors to the museum annually exceeds 1.2 million people. The staff consists of more than 800 employees.
The museum association includes St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812 and the Chamber of the Romanovs. The State Historical Museum also owns exhibition halls on Revolution Square, storage facilities and restoration workshops in Izmailovo. The construction of a depository and exhibition center with an area of 120 thousand m² in the village of Kommunarka of New Moscow is underway.
The collection continues to grow: annually, up to 15 thousand items come to the funds thanks to archaeological expeditions. A few items come as a gift from individuals or through special purchases.
An optimal environment for the preservation of exhibits is maintained in all museum rooms: a temperature of +18 ° C and 55% humidity.
Address: Russia, Moscow, Red Square, 1
Phone: +7 495 692-40-19, +7 495 692-37-31
Open: Mon, Wed, Thu, Sun 10:00–17:00; Fri, Sat 10:00–20:00
Nearest metro: Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya, Revolution Square.
Red square ensemble (full list):