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The first Russian private public museum (of Count Rumyantsev) opened

12 December 1831

November 23 (December 12), 1831 in St. Petersburg opened Russia's first private public museum - the Rumyantsev Museum.

Museum of Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev, an outstanding Russian statesman, diplomat, philanthropist, collector, was located in a mansion on the English Embankment in St. Petersburg. Rumyantsev bought this house in 1802 from a British merchant Vara.

While abroad in the diplomatic service, Rumyantsev began collecting the monuments of Russian culture and history, and over time he managed to create a collection, unique in quality and composition. The mansion of Nikolai Petrovich housed rich collections of historic and artistic treasures: more than 28 000 books, manuscripts, ethnographic and archaeological materials, coins, minerals, paintings and sculpture. The Rumyantsev collection contained 104 incunabula (books published before the 1st January, 1501), large numbers of Russian early printed books, works of scholars of 17-19th centuries, descriptions of travels, the first edition of "The Song of Igor's Campaign" of 1800, the first and second editions of Diderot and d'Alembert Encyclopedia.

In 1826, Nikolai Petrovich died, instructing his younger brother Sergei Petrovich Rumyantsev to provide the house along with all the collections for the needs of a museum.

March 22 (April 3), 1828 Emperor Nicholas I signed a decree on the establishment in St. Petersburg of a public academic institution "Rumyantsev Museum” and its transfer to the ownership of the Ministry of Education.

Two years later, May 28 (June 9). 1831 were approved by the statute, budget and staff of the Rumyantsev Museum, and on 23 November (12 December) it was opened to the public. Anyone could visit the museum free of charge: in winter from 10 a.m. till "the sun goes down”, and in summer from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. All costs of the museum’s maintenance were taken over by Sergei Petrovich Rumyantsev.

After the death of Sergei Petrovich in 1838, the building and museum collections began to decline. From 1845 to 1861 Rumyantsev Museum had been a part of the Imperial Public Library as an independent agency with a separate budget and staff. In 1861 the Rumyantsev Museum was transferred to Moscow, to the house on Pashkov in Neglinnaya Street. On the basis of its collection was created the Moscow Public Museum and the Rumyantsev Museum. Book collection of the St. Petersburg collection, numbering 28 thousand volumes, formed the basis of the Russian State Library, which had been called the Rumyantsev Library until 1924.

Currently, the building of the Rumyantsev Mansion in St. Petersburg houses a branch of the State Museum of History of St. Petersburg - one of the largest historical museums in Russia.

Lit.: Зверева И. С. Румянцевский музей — филиал Императорской Публичной библиотеки (1845-1861 гг.) // Публичная библиотека и культура. Три века истории. Вып. 1. СПб., 2006. С. 101-135; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; История библиотеки. Петербургский период. [Электронный ресурс] // Российская государственная библиотека. 1999-2014.URL:

From the Presidential library materials:

Ивановский А. Д. Государственный канцлер граф Николай Петрович Румянцев. СПб., 1871;

Полное собрание законов Российской империи. СПб., 1832. Т. 6. № 4602. С. 411;

Селифонтов Н. Н. Родословная Селифонтовых и Румянцевых. СПб., 1890.