St Petersburg: The Kunstkamera of Peter the Great

Posted in: Russia


Photo by calley_nelson
Photo by calley_nelson

Dostoevsky called St. Petersburg the “most abstract and fantastic city on earth.” The city’s power to amaze is at its best in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, built in 1714 on the granite banks of the River Neva to house Tsar Peter the Great’s bizarre collection of abnormal anatomy.

Siamese twins in formaldehyde, the skeleton of “Bourgeois the Giant,” and the Tsar’s collections of teeth—which he himself had pulled—are not for the faint hearted. Yet Peter’s intention for his kunstkamera was to prove to the superstitious of his time that abnormality was the result of natural causes and not the devil’s work.

The Museum has a total of one million artefacts from all over the world and is currently running a new exposition of African exhibits. For details, check out the Kunstkamera site. Admission is RUB200 (€5.75; $7.70), with students going half price.

About the author

Melanie lives in Budapest with her Hungarian husband and two daughters, Rose and Thea. She teaches English and Psychology in an International School in the city and is studying for a Masters Degree in Children's Literature.

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