Rumyantsev Mansion

Museum of the history of St. Petersburg of the first half of the 20th century

The branch of the Museum of the History of the City, telling about its life and development in the 1920s-40s, is located in a large prominent building on the English Embankment on the banks of the Neva, which itself is a vivid example of the metamorphoses characteristic of many buildings in the northern capital.

Why Rumyantsev?

The mansion on the English Embankment received its historical significance and name because of its most famous owner – Nikolai Rumyantsev – an outstanding statesman, chancellor of the Russian Empire, educator and patron of the arts. During his life he was a member of several government commissions on economic issues, director of a noble bank, director of water communications and expeditions on the construction of roads in Russia, minister of commerce, minister of foreign affairs. Rumyantsev was called “the eyes and ears of Catherine II.”

One of the count’s merits is participation in the conclusion of the Friedrichsgam Peace Treaty, which put an end to the Russian-Swedish (Finnish) War of 1808-1809. For such an important point in his biography, Rumyantsev was awarded the rank of State Chancellor – the first official in the civil hierarchy of the Russian Empire. The Count’s descendants remembered for his hobby – love to collect. While in the diplomatic and public service, Nikolai Petrovich was engaged in collecting ancient written monuments.

The count lived in three rooms with windows overlooking the Neva. All other rooms of the mansion contained his priceless treasures. In 1826 Nikolai Rumyantsev died, leaving an oral order to his younger brother – Sergei Petrovich – to provide a house on the English Embankment with all the artifacts in it for a museum, “for good enlightenment.” In 1831 the museum was opened. And not just a museum, but the first private public museum in Russia.

This became the most important event in the scientific and cultural life of St. Petersburg, about which all the newspapers wrote. The house housed a huge library made up of collections of Russian and Slavic manuscripts, Russian books of church and civil press, foreign publications and maps. The entire Great (White) Hall was occupied by a mineralogical study. The museum kept collections of coins and medals, a collection of clothes and things of the islanders .. Later, its collections formed the basis of the collection of the Russian State Library and the State Museum of Fine Arts named after A.S. Pushkin. The first exposition of the museum is dedicated to this part of the history of the mansion, as well as the restored state interiors at the present time.

Communal paradise

After the 1917 revolution, the mansion, like all private estates, was nationalized. Since that time, completely different institutions were located here (the society of warehouses, insurance and transportation of goods, the social insurance center, the Metalworkers’ Union, the school of pioneer leaders) and…. famous communal apartments.

Moreover, these communal apartments were finally resettled from the mansion only in the 1990s. In the 1920s, in the big cities of the young Soviet country, the process of converting city apartments that belonged to one owner into communal apartments began. The former owners of the apartment moved into one of the rooms, and the rest of the premises were occupied by workers of factories and factories in need of housing, the military, employees of various Soviet institutions, etc. So the Soviet government tried to solve the housing problem in cities, primarily in Moscow and Leningrad , where the population was constantly growing due to the influx of labor from the provincial regions of Russia. The cohabitation of strangers in one apartment has given rise to a whole cultural layer of urban folklore; many Petersburgers keep memories of childhood and adolescence spent in such communal apartments.

It is in such an apartment that has retained its original layout: in four rooms, a narrow corridor and a common kitchen, the exposition of the reconstruction of a Leningrad communal apartment, in which different characters “live”, is located:

  • The former mistress of the entire apartment, “compacted” in the 1920s;
  • a family who moved to the city from the countryside in the 1930s-1950s;
  • a representative of the “informal youth” of the 1960s and an artist, representative of the Leningrad underground of the 1970-1980s.

Objects from the museum collection of the 1930-1980s make it possible to show the life of Leningraders from different social strata and in different time periods. In the shared kitchen, you can see a retrospective of household appliances: from a primus to a gas stove; from a refrigerator to an electric refrigerator; from a galvanized washstand to a water tap, etc. Radios, electric shavers, hair dryers, wall phones, bells, vacuum cleaners and other “things from the past” are displayed in the corridor. More than 1000 items from the collections of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg.

What is NEP?

New Economic Policy (abbreviated NEP) is an economic policy pursued in the 1920s in Soviet Russia and the USSR. It replaced the “War Communism” policy pursued during the Civil War and the intervention that brought Soviet Russia to economic decline. The main content of NEP is the replacement of surplus appropriation with a tax in kind in the countryside (up to 70% of the grain was withdrawn during the surplus tax, about 30% with the tax in kind), the use of the market and various forms of ownership, the attraction of foreign capital in the form of concessions, the implementation of a monetary reform, as a result of which the ruble became convertible currency.

The NEP exposition acquaints visitors with the results of the new economic policy pursued from 1921 to 1929. Visitors can immerse themselves in the atmosphere of that time, hear popular melodies, and experience the everyday life of the city of the 1920s. Authentic household items, furniture, clothes of the 1920s create the image of the times. Interactive zones – “Nevsky Prospekt”, “Shoe workshop”, “Atelier of the milliner”, “Restaurant”, “Living room”, “Communal kitchen”, sound and musical design, city newsreels help to penetrate the urban environment.

Industrialization and culture. 1930s

The exhibition presents samples of products manufactured by factories and enterprises of the city: a prototype of synthetic rubber (1931), an ingot of the first Soviet aluminum (1932), TV “VRK” (1937) and models of a timber carrier, a refrigerator, a tanker, the first trolleybus (1936), a bakery…

Demonstrations and parades were an important part of the city’s festivities. Special attention was paid to the decoration of the city. Athletic parades became traditional, they promoted physical education and sports. City events were held in the Central Park of Culture and Leisure, inaugurated in 1932. 1930s – the “golden age” of the film studio “Lenfilm”.

The following films were released: “The Trilogy about Maxim”, “The Seven Brave”, “Member of the Government”, “Chapaev” and others. Sound cinema has become a mass art form. The tour will acquaint visitors with the period of the formation of socialist industry and the everyday life of Leningrad in the 1930s. During these years, the celebration of the new year is resumed, recreation parks appear, sports and a healthy lifestyle are promoted.

Leningrad during the war

The exposition was opened in 1964 on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the complete defeat of the fascist troops near Leningrad. It occupies 12 rooms and includes more than 2000 exhibits. Here you can find original documents and photographs, banners, weapons and uniforms, objects of the siege of life, personal belongings of participants in the events, paintings and graphics, dioramas, maps, layouts and models.

On the basis of these materials, it is told about the creation of the Leningrad army of the people’s militia, about the evacuation of the population and industrial enterprises from the city, about measures to save architectural and artistic monuments and museum values.

Leningrad in the ring of the blockade, the role of the “Road of Life” across Lake Ladoga, the breakthrough of the 6 blockade and the final defeat of the enemy, the stages of the struggle between the army and the townspeople. Cards for food and a piece of blockade bread – 125 grams, the daily norm for most Leningraders in November-December 1941, as well as food substitutes developed by the city’s scientists, testify to the hardships of those years. The diary of schoolgirl Tanya Savicheva is also exhibited here. A bomb shelter and a blockade room, air raid signals and the sound of a metronome contribute to the immersion in the atmosphere of the city-front. Life in it did not stop: radio and theaters worked, exhibitions of artists were held, puppeteers performed, circus performances were given. On August 9, 1942, D. Shostakovich’s 7th symphony was performed at the Philharmonic Society, which was broadcast to many cities of the Soviet Union and foreign countries. It became the symbol of the undefeated city.

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Information About the Excursion


Thursday-Tuesday11:00-18:00 (cashier open till 17:00)
Wednesdayday off


Public Transport

English Embankment, 44
Metro / Subway
Minibuses (marshrutkas)
Ploschad' TrudaK-350, K-6k
Ploschad' Truda6, 100


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