The largest historic museum of Russia, the State Historical Museum, was established in 1872 on the initiative of the Russian scientific community.
For the construction of the Museum that was to become the treasury of the monuments and artifacts representing the outstanding events of the glorious history of the Russian State the ground in the very center of Moscow in the Red Square was chosen. The construction works lasted from 1875 till 1881 and were headed by architects Shervud and Semenov, who designed the building in Russian style. The new building perfectly fitted the ensemble of the Red Square. The walls of the Historical Museum like the Kremlin walls were laid from the red baked brick. The towers crowning the Museum also greatly remind of the Kremlin towers. And some elements of the Museum's exterior decor recreate the decor of St Basil Cathedral, which is located just nearby.
The Museum was conceived as a «vivid history of Russia». Articles and monuments representing the culture and the history of the multinational Russian State were brought to the new museum from all the regions of Russia. The collection was remarkably enriched by private donations. Thanks to the efforts of Russian scientists, historians and archaeologists more than 4 million exhibits were gathered. And in 1883 on the day of coronation of Tsar Alexander III first 11 museum halls representing the history of Russia from the days immemorial to the late 12s century were solemnly opened to the public.
Today the collection of the Museum that has considerably enlarged in the course of the 20th century treasures archeological finds, manuscripts and black-letter books, old Russian icons, Russian and foreign arming, works of smith craft, jewelry, glass and ceramics, national clothes, collection of old furniture from the private estates and many more. Private belongings of Russian monarchs Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and the last members of the Romanov family are especially popular with the visitors.
The Museum collection of fine arts that numbers over 500,000 items is quite impressive. It includes portraits of outstanding Russian and foreign politicians, landscapes of different regions of Russia, water-colors, drawings and lithographs. It is noteworthy that the Museum features not only the works of the celebrated masters but also paintings by unknown talented artists.
The permanent exhibition is designed so that each of the halls is devoted to certain period of history. The rich interior decor corresponds with the time and style of the exhibits placed there. Frescos, moldings, carvings and other decorations create the unique atmosphere of the past.