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The second birth of the Maritime Museum and its development (1867-1917)


New spacious rooms were allotted for the anticipated museum on the first floor in Admiralty’s western wing in the areas that had belonged to the Navy Engineering School.

Because of the enthusiasm and initiative of  N. M. Baranov, the museum began its work as early as in January, 1867 and in August the official opening took place. Baranov arranged the publicity, too: major Saint-Petersburg newspapers informed their readers when the museum was to be opened and that the admission was free for visitors of all classes.

In three years after the museum was re-opened, its collections grew so much that several rooms on the second floor of the building were given to the museum to extend the exhibition area. The museum workers continued to develop displays. By 1917 there were the following departments in the museum:

1) Period of Peter I

2) Period of Empresses Ann, Elisabeth and Catherine II;

3) Period of Paul I and Alexander I;

4) Period of Nicholas I and Alexander II;

5) Period of Alexander III and Nicholas II;

6) ‘Department of Articles of Everyday Use of General Admiral Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich (made on the basis of the maritime collection donated by the will of the Grand Duke);

7) Russo-Turkish war of 1877/1878;

8) Russo-Japanese war 1904/1905;

9) Department of the World War;

10) Artillery department;

11) Mechanical Department;

12) Department of Port Structures;

13) Ethnographic Department;

14) Hydrographic Department.

The activities of the Naval Museum were not restricted to collecting and exhibiting outdated artifacts. It was a center of technical progress too. It accumulated new weapons to be tested, design models and ship drawings, pilot machines and mechanisms. The secret storage was provided for inventions of famous design engineers A. P. Davydov and S. K. Dzhevatsky, and ship models designed by famous shipbuilder A. A. Popov. In 1877 one of the first quick-firers in the world, invented by V. S. Baranovsky, was lent by the museum for field trials.

The lecture hall of the museum was often used for public lectures on naval issues. For example, on November 23, 1887 Lieutenant N. N. Beklemishev reported about comparative tests of five mine boats during navigation of 1886; later he became known as an experienced ship-builder, hydrograph and the founder of the League for the Navy Renewal. Many historians lectured there, and A. S. Popov, the inventor of radio, made demonstrations there.

The Naval Museum conducted great exhibition activities. In 50 years, from 1867 to 1917 it took part in 31 exhibitions (5 world shows, 7 international, 2 national shows organized abroad and 17 domestic exhibitions) and won many medals. Such active work was really unique for that time.