Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

Sometimes visiting a museum becomes the goal of an entire tourist trip. And we’re not just talking about world-famous meetings; local, highly specialized exhibitions can also surprise. After all, some of them offer a unique experience of interacting with exhibits, while others offer non-obvious themes of the collections. We tell you about six unusual museums that are worth visiting even from afar.

Alvar Aalto Library, Vyborg

Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

The visiting cards of Vyborg are a medieval castle with a powerful donjon, burgher architecture and the park of granite rocks of Mon Repos. But we also recommend adding the Central City Library to your city tour – a unique example of Scandinavian design in Russia. It was built in 1933-1935 according to the design of the architect Alvar Aalto in the style of Finnish functionalism, which involves the abandonment of decorative elements in favor of the efficient use of space.

Progressive design solutions for their time still look relevant today. Visitors can enter the building from different entrances, depending on which department they need to go to. The architect designed panoramic windows and a unique shadowless lighting system for the reading rooms, placing round skylights in the ceilings. Another innovative solution is the acoustic ceiling in the lecture hall, thanks to which the sound is distributed evenly throughout the hall, and speakers can speak without a microphone. The furniture is also designed specifically for this building. Already in 1935, screens were installed here, which made it possible to change the volume and configuration of the premises.

The Central City Library is one of Aalto’s first projects that brought him worldwide fame. Today this building is included in the “Alvar Aalto International Route” and is in demand among tourists. Without a library card, you can only go inside with a guided tour, so a few days before the expected date of visit you need to reserve seats on the library website. 

How to get there: by plane and train to St. Petersburg, and from there by Lastochka from Finlyandsky Station to Vyborg.

Where to stay:

Three-star hotel “Druzhba” (rating 9.3) – from 3,300 rubles* per night in a standard room.

Four-star hotel “Victoria Vyborg” (rating 9.7) – from 3,900 rubles* per day for a standard room.

The Beaver House, Voronezh

Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

One of the activities of the staff of the Voronezh State Biosphere Reserve is restoring the beaver population. On the territory of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, due to uncontrolled fishing, this species of animal was practically exterminated. To introduce visitors to this work, the Beaver Town complex has been created on the territory of the reserve, in which three objects are open to the public. On excursions in sheds, specially equipped enclosures with water, guests can get acquainted with beavers of different ages and see the work of zoologists in practice. In the two-level aquarium, the Beaverarium, you can watch the construction of a hut and other everyday chores of an entire family of beavers. The Beaver House Museum introduces in more detail the life of these animals in the wild. The interactive exhibition is aimed at maximizing interaction with human sensations. For children, exploring the museum will be a fun experience thanks to the many touchscreen displays with riddles, illustrations and sounds.

In addition to the Beaver Town on the territory of the reserve, guests can visit several more museums telling about the complex work of the institution, wander barefoot along an eco-trail made of wood and stones in the forest and climb in the treetops in the rope park.

To visit the town you need permits and tickets, which can be issued directly at the museum box office. Don’t forget to check the working hours on the reserve’s website, they may change depending on the biorhythms of the animals. 

How to get there: by train to Voronezh, and from there by bus No. 310 to the “Zapovednik” stop.

Where to stay:

Four-star hotel “AZIMUT City Hotel Voronezh” (rating 9.0) – from 4,000 rubles* per night.

Four-star hotel “Degas” (rating 9.9) – from 4,900 rubles* per night.

Museum of one painting named after G.V. Myasnikov, Penza

Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

​​This extraordinary gallery offers visitors a unique experience of immersing themselves in the history of the creation of one painting. The exhibition often changes: masterpieces from all over Russia come to Penza on tour. A visit to the museum is tied to sessions, each of which lasts 45 minutes. During this time, in a small hall, spectators watch a film about the era when the artist created. Then, together with an art critic, they get acquainted with his biography and work. Only after this the curtain opens and guests can carefully examine the main exhibit. Not long ago, the museum was equipped with modern multimedia technologies. There are only 37 seats in the hall, so it is better to book a place in the excursion group in advance on the museum website.

How to get there: by train to Penza, and from there by bus or car to st. Kirova, 11.

Where to stay:

Two-star hotel “Suitcase” (rating 9.4) – from 2,800 rubles* per night.

Hotel “Derzhava” (rating 9.0) – from 4,900 rubles* per night.

Museum of World Funerary Culture, Novosibirsk Region

Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

Another name for this space is the Historical and Art Museum of Death. The founder of the collection, Dmitry Evsikov, explains that his collection talks about death “from the perspective of history, culture, art, religion, philosophy, sociology, psychology, family and national values.” The exhibition reveals many aspects related to the end of a person’s earthly life and honoring his memory. The exhibition features hearses, mourning dresses, utensils for funerals and preparing the body for burial, as well as historical and cultural exhibits. Visitors will learn the history of the development of cemeteries, gravestones, cremation, embalming and funeral music. They will also get acquainted with national funeral rites as a craft, without which humanity could not exist.

The museum has three halls. The exhibition of the first tells about funeral culture and mourning of the 19th century, the second is dedicated to funeral rites in world culture, and the third hall presents the history of funeral transport. Entrance to each of them is paid separately. But you can also buy a complex ticket, as well as book an excursion.

How to get there: by plane to Novosibirsk, and from there by bus No. 203 or No. 399 to the “Novosibirsk Crematorium” stop in the village of Voskhod. 

Where to stay:

Three-star River Park Hotel (score 10) – 3,600 rubles* per day.

Four-star hotel Doubletree by Hilton (rating 10) – from 7,900 rubles* per night.

Slot Machine Museum, St. Petersburg

Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

At the Museum of Slot Machines in St. Petersburg, you can find out what computer games looked like before the mass spread of the Internet and personal gadgets. The creators invested in making all the exhibits functional, so for some guests the excursion will be a trip back to childhood. Along with the entrance ticket, visitors receive tokens with which they can play the slot machines they like. The main thing, like in the old days, is to be patient and wait in line. The exhibition includes 53 slot machines. Probably many remember “Hockey”, “Battleship”, “Sniper-2” and “Basketball”. But the rare “Lotsman” or “Virazh” are unique finds. If it gets hot during the games, authentic vending machines with sparkling water and kvass will help you cool down. Visitors note that the museum is also interesting for children, since they have simply never seen many items. For example, special attention goes to the rotary payphone.

How to get there: by plane or train to St. Petersburg.

Where to stay:

Four-star hotel “Gogol House” (rating 8.6) – from 3,400 rubles* per night.

Five-star hotel Domina St.Petersburg (rating 10) – from 6,800 rubles* per night.

National Museum of the Altai Republic named after A.V. Anokhin, Gorno-Altaisk

Beaver House and slot machines: six unusual museums in Russia

The exhibition of the national museum tells about the culture, archeology, ethnography and treasures of the Altai people. One of the most mysterious and famous exhibits, for which tourists and scientists come here, is the mummy of a girl, who was found in 1993 during the excavation of a burial ground in the thickness of the ice on the Ukok plateau. People call her “Princess of Ukok” or “Ukok Princess”. Together with the girl, the remains of six horses with harnesses and saddles were found in the burial chamber, which confirms her noble origin. The burial dates back to the 5th-3rd century BC.

According to the beliefs of the Altai people, the “princess” protected this world from evil bursting from the underground kingdom, so not everyone was happy that the find was taken to one of the museums in Novosibirsk. The indigenous people believed that this was the cause of the natural disasters that befell the Republic. They demanded that the “princess” be returned to her homeland and even re-buried in the mountains.

Since 2012, the mummy has been kept in the National Museum of the Altai Republic. An additional sarcophagus building was built especially for her, equipped with modern equipment to maintain the necessary climatic conditions. In addition, the premises are furnished in accordance with the ethical standards and beliefs of the indigenous population of the Altai Republic.

It is not easy for an outside visitor to get into this branch of the museum. You can see the “Princess of Ukok” and the artifacts associated with her only on certain days that fall on the waxing moon. Therefore, before planning a trip, you should definitely check the opening hours of the exhibition hall on the museum’s website, as well as call the administration and find out if there are any unscheduled changes.

How to get there: by plane to Gorno-Altaisk, and from there by taxi to the museum.

Where to stay:

In the four-star hotel “Altai” (rating 9.1) – from 5,200 rubles* per night.

In the four-star hotel “Altai Palace” (rating 8.8) – 8,200 rubles per night*.

*Prices are current at the time of publication.

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