Polytechnic Museum turns 130

Moscow's oldest museum - the Polytechnic one - has turned 130. It is Russia's largest treasury of science and technology, which is situated in the very heart of Moscow, near Red Square.

The Moscow Polytechnic Museum - one of the world's oldest museums - was opened on December 12th, 1872. The idea of its establishment is linked to the All-Russia Polytechnic Exhibition. Devoted to the 200th anniversary of Peter I and opened on May 30, 1872, near the Kremlin walls, it marked the impetuous development of industry and the triumphant parade of new technologies in Russia. The Imperial Society of natural science, anthropology and ethnography lovers suggested that the exposition exhibits be preserved for future generations. On the initiative of the Russian educator scientists, the museum was designed as a scientific-educational center.

"Today the museum's main task remains the same: intellectual support of the technical culture of society by means of distributing scientific knowledge," said Gurgen Grigoryan, the museum's director.

Among the 160,000 items in the archives of the Polytechnic Museum (PM) one can find almost any sign of technical progress for the last few centuries: from an abacus and Underwood typewriter to a latest generation computer; from miners' lamps of the Middle Ages to the 1980 lamps; from a hand organ and gramophone to a CD player. The museum comprises all things, that were unusual at first and then became conventional and an inseparable part of human existence in the civilized world: the telephone, electrogenerator, automobile, radio, fridge etc.

The most valuable, even unique collections were made up of time-measuring devices (about 3,000), microscopes (2,000), photo cameras (1,500), as well as calculators, telephone and telegraph apparatus, sewing machines, geophysical and meteorological devices. The gramophone and phonograph collection, as well as the antiquarian bicycle collection, have no analogues.

The special pride of the Polytechnic Museum is a collection of negatives and photographs that document the development of the art of photography from the moment of its invention in 1830s. Of interest is a rarity collection of micro-miniatures made by Russian craftsmen: the smallest book the size less than a poppy grain; watercolors painted on an apple's seeds; a power generator the size of a mote; lilliput violins; and a geographic map on a rice grain.

The PM comprises the Central Polytechnic library that stores 3 million books and publications. The Grand Auditorium of the museum hosts poetic and musical soirees, meetings with distinguished people, and scientists' speeches.

The museum's jubilee has coincided with the 550th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci, and the PM, under UNESCO and the Russian Culture Ministry's auspices, organised a set of events devoted to the ingenious painter, scientist and inventor of the Renaissance epoch.

It's noteworthy that Pate's phonograph of 1910 from Paris turns records in due manner, and the photo camera of early XX century with a built-in photo lab develops films well, and the mechanical organ (hand-organ) plays 8 tunes. A century-old hand vacuum cleaner and an army of typewriters are in a working condition, too.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team