The Black Sea Fleet Museum was founded in Sevastopol

26 September 1869

14 (26) September 1869 in Sevastopol, on the initiative of the direct participants of 349-day defense of Sevastopol, and under the patronage of Emperor Alexander II was founded one of the oldest museums in Russia - the Black Sea Fleet Museum.

In order to organize the museum in St.Petersburg, a Special Committee chaired by E. I. Totleben (one of the leaders of Sevastopol Defense) was created and in Sevastopol – a local commission headed by Vice Admiral P. I. Kyslynsky. Exhibits for the museum were voluntarily collected from private collections.

Exposition of the Black Sea Fleet Museum was located in the house of Totleben. Here were gathered the personal belongings of participants of Defense, photographs, manuscripts, memoirs, documents, samples of weapons, paintings by Aivazovsky, Makovsky and Roubaud, famous paintings by V. Timm. The  Black Sea Fleet Museum also received a saber of a Turkish commander Osman Pasha, a telescope of Admiral Nakhimov, awards of M. P. Lazarev.

1 (13) December 1869 Emperor Alexander II issued a decree on the transfer of an estate in the village of Emir, Tauride Province, Berdyansk Uyezd, of 1, 936 thousand dessiatines, to Sevastopol Museum. In 1874 under the museum were created a school for 40 pupils (later transformed into a vocational school), an asylum for the disabled, straw-weaving courses for girls and Ksenia parochial school for 300 pupils. The patron of the museum and charities being in its custody became the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich.

In 1895 a construction of a special building designed by architect A. M. Kochetov was completed. A new museum was built in classical style, on its sides reinforcement rods stylized as fore and stern parts of the old ships were cast along with guns. On the main facade of the building there was "a sign of Sevastopol” - the cross and the memorial number 349 (the number of days of Sevastopol defense). All bronze figures and ornaments, stucco work inside the building were performed in accordance with the project of Odessa sculptor B. V. Eduards.

According to the catalogue of 1913, the museum numbered over 2 thousand precious relics, a lot of exhibits were received in 1905, the year of 50th anniversary of the defense of Sevastopol. After the October Revolution new sections, devoted to the revolutionary events of 1905-1917 years, were opened.

By 1940, the institution was renamed into the Military Historical Museum of the Black Sea Fleet, and after the Great Patriotic War, some of the most valuable pieces were evacuated to Baku and then to Ulyanovsk. The rest of the exhibition was transferred to the building of a picture gallery due to the fact that the museum’s building had been partially destroyed. After the liberation of Sevastopol from the Nazis the building was restored and August 15, 1948 the Museum resumed its exhibitions.

To date, the entire history of Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet is presented in eight exhibition halls. The funds of the Military Historical Museum of the Black Sea Fleet numbers over thirty thousand items. Exposition of the museum tell about the struggle of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples for the access to the Black and Azov Seas, the foundation of Sevastopol and the Black Sea Fleet (1783), Russian-Turkish wars (18-19th centuries) and the fighting in the Black Sea at the beginning of the Crimean War 1853-1856.; of the first defense of Sevastopol (1854-1855), the state of the Black Sea Fleet on the eve of the Revolution of 1905-1907; on the events at the Black Sea Fleet from 1904 to February 1917, the participation of Black Sea Fleet sailors in the first Russian Revolution of 1905-1907 and the World War I; the participation of Black Sea sailors in the Civil War, the revival, development and strengthening of the Black Sea Fleet in the prewar years; sanctify the history of the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet during and after the Great Patriotic War.

Lit.: Алабин П. В. Севастопольский музей. СПб., 1869; Исторический музей Севастопольской обороны. СПб., 1901.

From the Presidential library materials:

Материалы для истории Крымской войны и обороны Севастополя. СПб., 1871. Вып. 1;

Материалы для истории Крымской войны и обороны Севастополя. СПб., 1871. Вып. 2;

Материалы для истории Крымской войны и обороны Севастополя. СПб., 1872. Вып. 3;

Материалы для истории Крымской войны и обороны Севастополя. СПб., 1872. Вып. 4;

Материалы для истории Крымской войны и обороны Севастополя. СПб., 1874. Вып. 5.