Russian America

The exhibition Russian America on board the research vessel Vityaz is almost complete. It will be integrated with the permanent exhibition Russia Explores the Ocean.  The exhibition was created with the financial support of LUKOIL-Kaliningradmorneft.

There is a reason this topic has been chosen: it is the largest chapter in Russia’s history concerning exploration of the World Ocean. For a long time, it remained unrevealed due to many reasons but first of all because of lack of exhibits which are the most important at the museum! Thanks to charitable support of the oil-producing enterprise the museum managed to find and purchase authentic artifacts of the 19th century telling about life of pioneer navigators and inhabitants of northern Russian towns – those which let Russia possess the lands of North America, consolidate its international position and start the era of circumnavigations.

Beginning of the era
In the 18th century, Russian explorers opened the door to the World Ocean by making two Kamchatka expeditions under the leadership of Vitus Bering. The first vessel to reach Alaska was the boat St. Gabriel under the command of Mikhail Gvozdev. On 21 August 1732, they anchored at the westernmost point of North America – Cape Prince of Wales. Gvozdev explored the area and mapped about 300 km of the coastline.

Russian-American Company
In summer 1799, Pavel I ordered to establish the Russian-American Company (RAC) which dealt with fur trade. Basically, the company became an instrument to colonize the New World and successfully fulfilled economical, political and missionary tasks.

Irkutsk industrialist Grigorii Shelokhov and his son-in-law Nikolai Rezanov (well-known diplomat) were at the origins of the company. The latter made his mark in history rather with romantic love to Concepción Argüello, daughter of the Spanish governor of Alta California, than with his services. But he was one of the leaders of the first Russian circumnavigation, the first official ambassador to Japan and an author of one of the first Russian-Japanese dictionaries – he was among the outstanding people of the time!

In 1802, Alexander Baranov was appointed the first governor of settlements in Alaska. He was a distinguished merchant from the northern city of Kargopol and made numerous heroic deeds and advanced solutions: he founded Novo-Arkhangelsk fort on Sitka, moved the administrative centre of Russian America from Irkutsk to Alaska and successfully repulsed Native Americans’ attacks as well as ordered to found a trading station Fort Ross in California on Nikolai Rezanov’s proposal: up to this day goods were delivered from Russia and Alaska settlers literally starved.

The commandant of Fort Ross and actual executive of A. Baranov’s order was the Russian merchant from Totma – Ivan Kuskov. He organized vegetable gardens, developed cattle husbandry and founded a harbor in the colony. Kuskov’s great credit was absence of armed conflicts with the Native Americans that made Russians different from other colonists in California. Moreover, the commandant established good relations with the Spanish who claimed for the lands.  

Orthodox mission
The first wooden church and school on Kodiak Island appeared in 1796. Herman of Alaska devoted his life to local public education. He lived on the island till his death and later became the first American saint in the Orthodox Calendar.

In 1824, a Russian Orthodox missionary priest arrived to the Aleutian Islands - Saint Innocent of Alaska. He learnt local language and translated the Gospel According to St. Matthew, the liturgy and the catechism for the indigenous islanders. He also opened a school and erected a temple there. The latter has survived till the present days.

There is an amazing story about Aleutian named Cungagnaq who adopted Orthodoxy and a Russian name Peter. When he was hunting a sea otter nearby Fort Ross Spanish took him prisoner and tortured to death for his refusal to adopt Catholicism. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized him as Saint Peter the Aleut.

The new exhibition is almost finished, it tells about all these people, their everyday life, amazing stories as well as about courage, deeds and defeats. The museum is looking forward to welcoming you again! 

“The Discovery of Antarctica” The Exhibition of the Russian Geographical Society



On 16 (28) January 1820, 200 years ago, two outstanding captains of the sloops Vostok and Mirny F. Bellingshausen and M. Lazarev discovered the planet’s most mysterious continent – Antarctica. The main task of the expedition was to cross all the meridians in the south circumpolar zone at the maximum high latitudes and find out whether there are lands as well as opportunity to approach the South Pole. During the long expedition its participants collected extensive data on geography, ethnography, botany, etc. But although extensive research was made, its results were published only 10 years later after the voyage. The paper “Repeated Research in the Antarctic Ocean and the Voyage Round the World on the Sloops Vostok and Mirniy in 1819-1820” was a considerable and detailed report on preparation, course and results of the expedition. And so-called “Atlas” with its charts, drawings and short notes was published as an extra appendix. Its materials became a basis for the exhibition “The Discovery of Antarctica”. The charts and maps were made by Bellingshausen himself and sketches of aborigines, flora and fauna were created Pavel Mikhailov, artist and member of the expedition.

The exhibition is provided by the Russian Geographical Society.



Friends' Gifts for Museum

IMG 20200415 145710The awards of the Russian Empire, USSR and foreign countries will be displayed at the Museum of the World Ocean soon. The generous gift was donated to the Museum of the World Ocean by its old friend and arts patron, Mr Vladimir Shcherbakov, the founder of AVTOTOR Company, for its 30th jubilee.

These are 482 awards of diverse national historic periods as well as medals and orders of foreign countries (including table-top medals of different shape and size). The collection is of a special value since it is almost impossible to find some certain articles in the original.

159 commemorative coins were also gifted to the museum. The awards are copies and the coins are original.

We express our gratitude to our old friend Mr Vladimir Shcherbakov for the opportunity to present exhibits to its guests and thus tell about the history and specific features of various awards. Earlier, the joint project with Mr Vladimir Shcherbakov resulted in the display of the collection "People of the Sea" he handed over to the Maritime Exhibition Hall in Svetlogorsk. Today it is one of the best five ethnographic collections of Southeast Asia in the world.

IMG 20200415 145801A unique exhibit was also handed over to the museum. This is a witness of the recent history of the R/V Vityaz - a plating fragment of the built-time period - that was given to the museum by the Svetlii Shipyard which performed dry docking and repair works for the Vityaz in 2019. The old museum's friends, the Federation of Sailing, the windsurfing club and Vasilii Bukanov (Head of the Kaliningrad River Port) donated a Mistral board with a sail and a compass. These items are good for the museum education projects. Artist Vladimir Tsikin and the administration of Yunost Sports Centre presented art works and thus enlarged the museum art collection. The Museum's Friends Club donated a  decorative pine and a magnolia; these trees will be planted on the territory of the Planet Ocean complex. 

Letter of Thanks from Italy


The Museum of the World Ocean and its branch in Saint-Petersburg, the icebreaker Krassin,  received a letter from descendants of participants of Umberto Nobile's expedition.

On its 103rd birthday, the staff of the museum and branch, the legendary icebreaker Krassin, sent a letter of support to its Italian colleagues. In 1928, it was the Krassin, that managed to break through the Arctic ice and rescue the participants of the polar expedition and its leader Umberto Nobile whose airship Italia crashed. The humanitarian action became one of the heroic pages in the history of the USSR. ThedeedbytheKrassincrew was imprinted in science, art, literature and even industry. Memoirs of the heroes were published in numerous editions and the book by E. Mindlin (correspondent of the icebreaker Krassin) became a table-top book for several generations of Soviet kids and young people.


Ocean in Art

The art exhibition from the collection of the Museum of the World Ocean (paintings, graphics, sculptures, decorative art)

This year the Museum of the World Ocean celebrates its 30th anniversary and is preparing exhibition surprises for its guests. In the present period, the museum has to halt its visitor service but the staff continues creating exhibitions which will be opened as soon as the doors are open wide for everyone. Right now, we are working at the project “Ocean in Art”. It will comprehensively present the museum’s art collection.

Over 70 by diverse artists created in different time periods are a sort of visual story about the ocean. Canvases and sculptures are only a drop in the ocean of art works kept by the museum. The depository comprises about 5,000 art pieces and the jubilee is a reason for glimpsing this collection. Seascapes, maritime history andfishermen’s everyday chores are the main topics of the future exhibition. Visitors will see pictures by Pen, Mikhailovskii, Fayustov, Lengryun, Konyukhov, etc. The museum will display sculptures by Lyudmila Bogatova, Stanislaus Cauer, etc. And there will be a premiere of the art composition by Henrika Bartkutė. Her art is always picturesque and uncommon.

Diverse works, diverse techniques. But every single picture is a chance to look at the Ocean in a new way and get swept away by art.

The art collection “Ocean” started at the Kaliningrad Regional Museum of History and Art for the future Museum of the World Ocean in 1983. Throughout 30 years the museum staff have collected over 5,000 artifacts anda special place is given to Kaliningrad artists telling about the beauty of the Baltic coast as well as sailors’ and fishermen’s labour.

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