There is an interesting legend about how the Kunstkamera was founded. Once Peter the Great was walking around St. Petersburg and noticed an unusual tree - a pine tree, one of the branches of which had grown into the trunk, forming a bizarre ring. The tsar ordered to cut down a pine tree and build a museum on this site, which will receive strange things from all over the world. The institution was named in a foreign way - Kunstkamera, which in German means "cabinet of rarities".
Initially, the exhibits were kept in the Human Chambers of the Summer Palace. But, the collection was quickly replenished, therefore, Peter ordered to start the construction of a separate building. Work began in 1718, and the construction was completed only in 1734, 9 years after the death of the monarch.
The Human Chambers were already cramped for the museum, and the new one was not yet ready. Therefore, in 1718, the emperor gave the house of Alexander Vasilyevich Kikin, who was executed for participating in a conspiracy against the king, for the museum. True, the people were reluctant to go to the museum, then the tsar's decree was issued: to treat visitors for free with a cup of coffee or a glass of vodka, whatever they like. It is not surprising that there are many more people wishing to visit the museum. A special amount was even allocated for treats - 400 rubles a year, which at that time was a fortune.
The governors were instructed to send people, animals and birds with pathology to the Kunstkamera. There was a reward for this. But, if someone dares to hide such a rarity from the king, charge a fine ten times the amount of the remuneration.
In 1717, Peter the Great bought more than 2, 000 exhibits from the famous Dutch anatomist Frederic Ruysch.
One of Peter the Great's lackeys was the Frenchman Nicolas Bourgeois. As you know, Peter himself was just over 2 meters tall, but even he seemed short in front of the French giant. The growth of Bourgeois is 2 meters 26 centimeters. When the footman died, the tsar ordered to expose his skeleton in the Kunstkamera. Until now, numerous legends circulate around this skeleton: during a fire in 1747, the skull disappeared, it was necessary to replace it with another. And among the workers of the Kunstkamera, terrible rumors spread that at night the skeleton wanders the halls, trying to find its head.
In the Kunstkamera there were some personal belongings of the Swedish king Charles XII, Peter's enemy in the Northern War. The museum contained spurs, a walking stick and a gold goblet. In the thirties of the last century, the cup was sold abroad for a symbolic amount - about $ 57.
The world's first globe was made in the middle of the 17th century by the famous traveler Adam Olearius. And this project was financed by the Duke of Gottorp, Frederick III. The globe turned out to be impressive - more than three meters in diameter, with a mass of three and a half tons. In 1713 this huge exhibit was presented to Peter the Great. It was delivered to St. Petersburg for more than three years. But the fate of the unique globe turned out to be tragic - it burned down in a fire in 1747. A copy was later made.
Currently, the "cabinet of rarities" bears a different name - the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences.