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The State Museum of the History of Religion


Государственный музей истории религии, Санкт-Петербург, Почтамтская ул., 14
Phones: +7 (812) 315 30 80
Web site:
The State Museum of the History of Religion is one of the world’s few museums and the only one of its kind in Russia with its permanent exhibition featuring the origin and development of Religion. The Museum collection numbers about 200 000 exhibits. It houses a wide range of historical and cultural monuments from various countries, ages, and peoples. The Museum keeps collections that cover a vast expanse of time from the Archaic (c. 6000 BC) and Ancient Egypt and Israel Times to the early Middle Ages in Europe; from the Ancient Greece and Rome to the present day. The history of Buddhism and Islam is also presented on the display.


The permanent exhibition of the Museum is located in 12 halls and covers almost the entire history of mankind. The tour begins with the collection of the Fund of archaic and traditional beliefs, continues in the halls of the religions of the Ancient world and Judaism. Several large halls are dedicated to the history of Christianity, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism. Separate large expositions tell about the history of Islam and the religions of the East.
Open storage funds are gradually being opened for sightseeing visits. In recent years, the "Masonic collection", "Japanese collection", and rich collections of Western European and Russian paintings have become available to all comers.


In the early 1930s, the Museum of the history of religions was established in the system Of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The initiator of its creation was an outstanding historian of religion, ethnographer and anthropologist Vladimir Bogoraz-tan. Previously, he founded The Institute of the peoples of the North and the Committee for the promotion of the peoples of the Northern suburbs.
The new Museum's collection is based on items from the collections of the Kunstkamera, the Hermitage, the Library of the Academy of Sciences and the State Russian Museum. In 1932, the Grand opening of the Museum took place in the building of one of the largest churches in St. Petersburg, the Kazan Cathedral.
The task of the Museum was not so much anti-religious propaganda as a comprehensive study of religion as a socio-historical phenomenon. Over the years of the Museum's existence, its employees managed to save many monuments of religious culture from destruction. By the early 1940s, a rich collection of objects reflecting the diversity of the world's religions had been assembled.
After the war, the Museum created a unique exhibition on the history of world religions, thanks to which it became known not only in Russia, but also abroad. Exhibitions dedicated to the religions of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the origin of Christianity, the history of Orthodoxy, and the beliefs of the East were opened. At this time, until his death in 1955, the Museum was managed by Vladimir Dmitrievich Bonch-Bruevich, doctor of historical Sciences and a prominent political and public figure.
In 1954, the institution was renamed the State Museum of the history of religion and atheism of the USSR Academy of Sciences. This meant that the Museum's work should focus on atheist propaganda.
In 1990, the Museum returned to its original name-the State Museum of the history of religion. At the same time, services were resumed in the Kazan Cathedral. In 2000, the Church finally passed to the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Museum moved to the restored building of the former house of count Yaguzhinsky.

Interesting Facts

The Museum recreates the "cave" of the late Paleolithic era. Thanks to modern technologies, cave acoustics are reproduced here, and unique rock paintings are recreated on the walls.

The collection of oil paintings includes works by Aivazovsky, Myasoedov, Makovsky, Vasnetsov, Nesterov, Deineka.

The collection of parchment handwritten scrolls with the text of the Torah, mounted on special shafts, has more than 300 units. Such a scroll is endowed with the highest sanctity in Jewish religious culture. The Fund presents the Sefer Torah, presented by the Jewish community to Nicholas II.

The Masonic collection presents the history of Freemasonry in different countries-Russia, Germany, France and others-from the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century. Here are kept ritual utensils, hammers, signs of initiation to the degree, ritual swords and other artifacts.