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Must Visit Technical Museums of Russia

These sci-tech museums can give their visitors an insight into the history of engineering, refresh their knowledge in the field of natural and exact sciences, and transport them to other periods of time to encounter genius inventors and enthusiasts who paved mankind’s road to the future.

Irbit State Museum of Motorbikes
100A Sovetskaya St., Sverdlovsk Oblast, Irbit
Tel.: +7(34355) 4-26-01
Irbit is considered the motorbike capital of Russia. It produces the famous Ural motorbikes and hosts a bike fest and motocross race championships. The collection of motorbikes amassed by the Irbit motorcycle factory has served as the basis for the museum, which was opened in 2004. The museum collections comprise Russian and foreign motorbikes, micro- and all-terrain vehicles: all in all about 120 items. Another exhibit is the collection of internal combustion engines, mostly pilot ones, designed at the Irbit factory.
The Museum features the military М-72, the “people’s” М-72М, Urals and other IMZ basic models, experimental motorbikes and unique, custom-made items. There are even special vehicles for bikers: Voyage, Cobra and Wolf. The foreign heavy bike section is also remarkable. A separate room is dedicated to the achievements of the Irbit bikers: some examples of their dexterity and speed have been registered in the Guinness Book of Records.
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Long-Range Aviation Museum
11 Belyakova St., Ryazan
Tel.: +7 (4912) 33-53-36
The museum at the Dyagilevo military air base on the outskirts of Ryazan opened in 1975 in honor of the 30-year anniversary of the WWII Victory. The collection is divided into two sections: the museum building and the open-air ground with aircrafts. The indoor exposition occupies five rooms and represents the history of Russian aviation: insignia, weapons and personal belongings of outstanding pilots and designers, maps, photographs and documents, samples of on-board armament and, last but not least, model airplanes.
Among the most interesting winged exhibits of the airfield is the legendary Tu-16, the first soviet long-range bomber with a turbojet engine, and the world’s second production airplane of that class; its variations have served Russia’s defense needs for almost 40 years. You can also see the М-4, the first Soviet jet subsonic long-range bomber; the Тu-22PD, equipped with an electronic reconnaissance system; the Tu-95 long-range bomber and rocket carrier – the fastest turbojet plane in the world; the BM-T heavy transport aircraft which hauled parts of the space systems Energy and Buran to Baikonur, and other glorious aircraft.
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T-34 Tank History Museum
89A, Sholokhovo village, Mytischi city okrug, Moscow Oblast
Tel.: +7 (495) 577-71-94
The museum developed from a private amateur collection. Larisa Vasilieva, daughter of one of the T-34 tank designers Nikolay Kucherenko, wrote a book on the creation of the legendary combat vehicle. Many of those involved in the tank’s history shared their memories with the author and sent photographs and documents to her. In 2001, on the anniversary of the counterattack near Moscow, the new building of the Museum was opened on the landmark line from which the Т-34 tanks launched their attack on the enemy in December 1941.
The museum’s exposition tells the story of the designers and heroic tank crewmen, the creation of the unique tank and evolution of the combat vehicle, and demonstrate the tactical and strategic role of the T-34 in the battle near Moscow and its application across the world. The open ground near the Museum showcases eight tanks and a self-propelled artillery unit. Among them are the first post-war Т-54 tanks, Т-55 tank with nuclear defense capability, and state-of-the-art Т-64АK, Т-72 and Т-80 tank models.
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Hydraulic Power Museum
33 Spasskaya St., Uglich, Yaroslavl Oblast
Tel.: +7 (4853) 2-2-40-66
Uglich HPP is one of the oldest hydraulic power plants in the Volga-Kama cascade. In 2007, a production and training center was opened at its premises. The former administrative building of Uglich HPP now accommodates 11 exhibitions dedicated to the history of Russian and global hydraulic power, outstanding engineers, the operation principles, construction and composition of the hydraulic power plants, and the planet’s water resources.
State-of-the art multimedia expositions and interactive mock-ups immerse young and adult audiences in the world of hydraulic power. Here one can trace its history from antiquity to Soviet times to the present, learn about the operation principles of the hydraulic generator and build a mock-up power plant; “get inside” the Uglich HPP in the stereo room and go on a virtual tour of the unique hydraulic power sites around the world. The memorial hall is a must-visit: its exposition tells the story of the 1930s–1950s when the national HPP construction used the labor of GULAG prisoners.
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Museum of Civil Aviation History
20A Aviatsionnaya St., Ulyanovsk
Tel.: +7 (842) 239-84-81
Ulyanovsk is the aviation capital of Russia, and the manufacturing, scientific and educational center of aircraft building. The Museum of Civil Aviation History, established in 1983, is considered the largest museum on the subject in Russia: its collections include more than 9,000 storage items, 730 of which are authentic samples of aviation equipment from different periods. Incidentally, almost all aircraft arrived at the exhibition premises – the airfield near the city airport – by air!
This unique exposition showcases around 50 various aircraft and helicopters. There are all kinds of aerial vehicles, from a 4-seat Soviet Ak-1 designed in the early 1920s and the miniature “cropduster” Po-2 developed in 1927, to modern giants. The collection features true landmarks of science and technology, such as, for instance, the world’s first heavy all-metal bomber ANT-4 (1925), the first Soviet production helicopter Mi-1 (1948), the world’s first supersonic airplane Tu-144 and the intercontinental Il-62 (1960s).
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Museum of Geology, Oil and Gas
9 Chekhova St., Khanty-Mansiysk
Tel.: +7(3467) 33-29-06
Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (Yugra) is one of the key oil-producing and oil-processing regions of Russia. The museum was founded in the region’s capital city in the 1990s and opened to visitors in 2004. It is dedicated to the amazing geological diversity of the region and its exploitation. The museum collections consist of around 37,000 items: samples of minerals and rock, oil and oil products, historic documents, and photographs and memorial belongings illustrating biographies of remarkable oilfield workers, the history of geological exploration and development of the oil and gas industry in Western Siberia.
The Museum is proud of its collection of minerals, such as quartz from the fields of Dodo and Puyva of the Nether-Polar Urals (including a unique 300-kg piece) and a collection of core samples from Berezovskaya key well R-1, the “discovery well” of Siberia’s gas fields. Moreover, visitors can view the collection of paleontological rarities, visit the sci-tech progress room, check out the interactive exhibition and admire works of art. The museum’s building is also spectacular: its facade is decorated with a superstructure in the shape of a gigantic crystal symbolizing the geological wealth of the Siberian land.
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Carpenter’s Plane Museum
5a Pionerskaya St., Yeniseysk, Krasnoyarsk Krai
Tel.: + 7 (908) 220-54-75
The world’s only museum dedicated to the carpenter’s plane emerged on the basis of a unique private collection. In 2008, Yeniseysk resident Vitaly Islentiev found his father’s tools in an old shed and understood that they were in fact a historic artefact worth saving. The tools launched the collection, which now includes more than 1,500 carpenter planes. The enthusiast has been looking for carpenter tools across every Siberian village and properly restoring them: all tools in the collection are functional!
The museum consists of more than two dozen varieties of carpenter plane; nowadays, it is the only place where one can see a functional tooth plane, groove plane or ridge plane. Various carpenter tools have different shapes of cutter and are intended for flat or shaped surfacing. Carpenter planes from different species of wood with unique stamps each tell their own short story. There are real rarities, including the 18th century English carpenter’s plane. The collection is registered in the Russian and Guinness books of records.
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Lifeline Museum
No. 58 Road of Life, village at the station Lake Ladoga, Leningrad Oblast
Tel.: +7 (813) 70-33-771
In the time of the Great Patriotic War, the Road of Life was the name of the transportation mainline crossing Lake Ladoga: in the period of navigation it used water and in winter it used ice, while its maintenance was a very sophisticated engineering task. In the period of the Leningrad Siege, the road was used to deliver food and evacuate elderly people, women and children. The Soviet troops protected the Road of Life from the air and land. The museum on the bank of Lake Ladoga opened for visitors on 12 September 1972, on the day of the 31st anniversary of the military mainline’s operation.
The open-air ground near the museum accommodates motor vehicles which transported cargoes and people; the carrier plane Li-2 which connected Leningrad to the country before the ice road was made; the artillery weapons, fragments of vessels navigating Ladoga in the time of the war, and the Izhorets-8 tow boat. In 2016, the Museum was moved to a new, modern building whose architecture symbolizes a block of Ladoga ice. It hosts an exposition telling the story of the creation and operation of the Road of Life. Dedicated pavilions contain the guard boat Maly Okhotnik (Small Hunter), which participated in the Great Patriotic War, and a collection of wartime vehicles.
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Tula State Museum of Arms
2 Oktyabrskaya St., Tula
Tel.: +7 (487) 231-10-04
For several centuries, Tula has been renowned for being Russia’s center of arms. The collection of one of Russia’s oldest museums dates back to 1724, to the old guns and rifles manufactured by the Tula factory; they started to be assembled by decree of Peter I. Officially the museum opened its doors in 1873, but only opened to the public in Soviet times. Today the Museum’s exhibits occupy two buildings: the historic one (within the walls of the Tula Kremlin) and the new one, styled as a gigantic heroic knight’s helmet.
The new permanent exhibition of the museum provides an opportunity to trace the history of fire and cold arms from the 14th century to the present day, study the evolution of engineering science, and immerse oneself in the atmosphere of different periods with the aid of contemporary multimedia technology. It features collections of cold arms and armor, combat muzzle-loaded, automatic, sports and hunting weapons, artillery, and numismatics. The museum’s is the proud home to rifles manufactured to commemorate the visit of Tsar family members to the Tula arms factory. There are also unique miniature items manufactured by Tula craftsmen from the olden days up until now, which confirm their superb craftsmanship. Experimental and limited-edition models are also remarkable; they include the quickest-firing automatic gun and a pistol developed for cosmonauts.
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