Founders

VAMIV RADLOV  1837-1918  Academician, orientalist-turkologist, Director of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences

DMITRY KLEMENS  1848-1914  First Director of the Ethnographic Department in the Emperor Alexander I Russian Museum, ethnographer, archaeologist, orientalist, publicist

NIKODIM KONDAKOV  1844-1925  Academician, historian of the Byzanthian and ancient Russian art. Professor in the Novorossiisk and St Petersburg Universities

ALEXANDER PYPIN  1833-1904  Literary historian, researcher in Slavonic, author of History of Russian Ethnography in four volumes (1890-92)

PIOTR SEMIONOV-TIAN-SHANSKY  1827-1914  Academician, geographer, botanist, researcher in statistics, Vice-Chairman of the Russian Imperial Geographic Society

VLADIMIR STASOV  1824-1906  Folklorist, art and music critic, literary historian, public figure, author of works on folk art

ALEXEI SHAKHMATOV  1864-1934  Academician, philologist, researcher in ancient Russian scripts, Professor in the St Petersburg University

SERGEI OLDENBURG   1863-1934  Permanent Secretary of the Academy of Sciences in 1904-29, orientalist, researcher in literature, arts, archaeology, linguistics and ethnography of Iran and India

The meetings in 1901 were also attended by:

DMITRY K0R0PCHEVSKY (1842-1903) scientist involved in popularization of ethnography, author of the First Lessons in Ethnography, translator of several classic works on ethnography;

VLADIMIR LAMANSKY (1833-1914) Academician, researcher in Slavonic history and philology, Chairman of the Ethnographic Section of the Russian Imperial Geographic Society, Professor in St Petersburg University, founder and publisher of member of the Zhivaya Starina (Live Antiquity) magazine, member of the Board of the Ethnographic Department in the Emperor Alexander III Russian Museum;

NIKOLAI MART'ANOV (1844-1904) Biologist, founder and Director of a Museum in Minusinsk, Yeniseisk Province;

A. SOBOLEVSKY (1856-1929) Academician, philologist, historian of the Russian language, researcher in ancient Russian art and specialist in Slavonic literature and history, linguist;

IVAN TOLSTOY (1858-?)  Vice President of the Academy of Arts, archaeologist, numismatist;

ALEXANDER KHARUZIN (1864-1931)  anthropologist, ethnographer researcher of the culture of the Kirghiz and Southern Slavs.

 

Russian ethnographers, as well as Orientalists, Slavonic scholars, linguists, anthropologists and art critics, consider the foundation of the Russian Museum of Ethnography as one of the most memorable events of the early 20th century. It began as the Ethnographic Department of a national museum, concerned with accumulation and study of cultural relics pertaining to various peoples inhabiting the vast Russian Empire.

Scientists and public figures in Russia had long cherished the idea of a museum, state financed and properly staffed, that would be capa­ble of becoming a centre for ethnographic research.

First efforts to establish a museum which would raise and answer the question of "the ways in which we, the Russian people, differ from other nations in our character and everyday life, capacities, preferences, necessities and habits, in our attitudes and ideas", date as early back as 1810s when the Russian national feeling was on the rise after the victorious Patriotic War of 1812. In 1817 the Russian society came to know about a project by F. Adelung for establishment of a national museum which would include ethnographic artefacts of all peoples living within the Russian Empire. Then a project by V. Vichman, in 1821, and a similar project by the collector P. Svin'in, in 1829.

The authors of these two projects were counting for governmental aid and personal assistance from Emperor Alexander I in organization of the museum. V. Vichman wrote that "this institution, a memorial to the Alexander's period, must be given the name of Alexandrian Patriotic Museum (Alexandrinum)." Both the former project and the appeal by P. Svin'in to Nicholas I were not given any consideration. The government of the Empire was still far from grasping the entire significance of national museums for social, political and cultural life of the country and did not think that any "national", as they put it in those days, research was necessary.

Much effort to create a museum for ethnographic research of the nations of the country was also recorded in the mid- 19th century when the ethnographic science was yet to be developed. A museum for collection and study of cultural artefacts of the peoples of Russia was organized by Academician Karl Baer in the Russian Imperial Geographic Society in 1848. Formed within framework of the Public and Rumiantsev Museums in Moscow in 1867, the Dashkov Ethnographic Museum was designed "to provide for wide public a visual acquaintance with inhabitants of various regions of Russia, their everyday life and appearance". The year 1879 saw the creation of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography which was based on the collections from the Museums of Anatomy and Ethnography whose origins can be traced to the Kunstkammer of Peter the Great. Its Articles stated that it was aimed at amalgamation of collections of "ethnographic and anthropologic artefacts from entire mankind and, mainly, from the nations living within the bounds of Russian state". Although much frequented and, according to the opinion of that day, "so necessary for the learned and educated", the two museums could not entirely meet the needs of the wide public and researchers in their investigating quest of motherland. The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography integrated mostly the collections in traditional culture of the peoples of Asia, Africa, America and Oceania, meanwhile the collections of the Dashkov Museum, although more rich in the artefacts of home cul­ture than the academic museum, were, as the renowned scientist A. Pypin admitted, "far from repre­senting the enormous multitude of ethnographic material which the everyday life of Russian and non- Russian population in Russia appears to be". Besides, both museums failed to develop the active collecting and research due to financial problems. It was assistance from patrons of art, not the scarce support from the government, city authorities or the Academy of Sciences, that made their develop­ment possible. Created by Emperor's Decree particularly as a museum of nations of the Russian Empire, the Ethnographic Department of the Alexander III Russian Museum was headed by a mem­ber of Imperial Family and enjoyed a comprehensive governmental support. This gave a hope for ethnographers that an ideal museum of national ethnography, the ideal for which they have been developing for decades, could become reality.

В.И. Ламанский
Н.П. Кондаков
А.А. Шахматов
В.В. Радлов
А.Н. Пыпин
С.Ф. Ольденбург
Д.А. Клеменц