Vernadsky State Geological Museum of Russian Academy of Sciences is located at the center of Moscow in front of the Kremlin and Manezhnaya Square. It is one of the oldest natural science museums of Russia. Nowadays the museum with more than 250 years of history is considered to be the largest scientific, educational and cultural centre in the field of the Earth sciences.
The Museum was founded in 1759, but its history had started before. On the initiative of well-known statesman Ivan I. Shuvalov and the first Russian academician, outstanding scientist Mikhail V. Lomonosov in 1755 by Imperial Edict of the Empress Elizaveta I Petrovna was founded the Imperial Moscow University (MSU nowadays). The Mineral Laboratory was established at the first Moscow's University.
The unique collection of minerals and rocks (about 6,000 samples) gifted to the University by the representatives of the famous Urals mining operators' Demidov dynasty, was delivered to Moscow in 1759 and became the basis of the Mineral Laboratory. The collection was formed by exposits from the famous Mineral Cabinet of a german chemist Johan Henckel, investigated by Mikhail V. Lomonosov during his studies in Germany, and a collection of the Siberian and Ural ores.
Thus the Natural History museum was established and played an important role in the educational process of students. For visitors the Museum was opened in 1805.
The history of museum linked with the fate of many famous scientists 19th - early 20th centuries, who created the science of geology in Russia. G.I. Fischer von Waldheim, Vladimir О. Kovalevsky, Alexei P. Pavlov, Мaria V. Pavlova wer working there.
Guided by these persons, the Museum became not only the educational centre, but the scientific centre as well. Vladimir I. Vernadsky was a Mineralogical Laboratory curator. Today, the Vladimir I. Vernadsky doctrine shall become the basis to consider wide range of society activity various concerns including in the field of harmonious exploitation (subsoil use) and management of global mineral resources sector.
In all challenging periods in the history of our country museum developed, due to the enthusiasm of scientists, support of statesmen, patrons, collectors.
Following the Demidovs, the tradition of charity and gifting of unique collection to the Museum was continued by the Princess Ekaterina R. Dashkova, Alexandr I the Emperor, Earl Sergei G. Stroganov, Earl А.К. Razumovsky and many other eminent personalities of Russia.
In Soviet period, the Museum was presented with mineralogical collections of R. Gherman, Lidia P. Prokhorova, the Dukes Gagarins, Earl Arthur Keller and others
Introduction to the Collections of the Geological Museum
The Museum holdings are the unique cultural and historical possessions of Russia. The Museum's collection is one of the largest in Russia. It includes over 300 000 samples of minerals, rocks and fossils.
The museum`s exposition contains rare exibit items, including a lot of rarities - the meteorites, samples of mantle matter and rocks` samples from Antarctica, products of Vesuvius, Krakatoa volcanoes' outbursts, collection of the Ural malachites, paleontological collections from 5 continents, etc.
With the museum collections worked and are working scientists - paleontologists, mineralogy, petrography, publishing research results in scientific articles and monographs.
The collection of the Museum is in demand and is available for study by specialists not only in Russia but also abroad.
The most famous Collection: the Prokhorova collection
The Prokhorova (Ushkova) mineral collection occupies a special position among private collections from XVIII-th to XX-th century.
The systematized collection of about 3000 items from all over the world was one of the best private collections of that time. The attention to her as a collector from scientists like Alexandr E. Fersman and Vladimir I. Vernadsky testify it.
The collection is unique, because it was accumulated by a woman at the turn of the XIXth and XXth century. Moreover, it was not only replenished by her purchases, but also through her own fees during numerous expeditions and travels. Lydia P.
Prokhorova was passionated about the mineralogy unconditionally. Her collection conserved in the Vernadsky State Geological Museum is the best memorial to this courageous woman, mineralogist and collector.
Curator — Vernadsky State Geological Museum