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Baird, Olga A.. “I Want the People to Observe and to Learn! The St. Petersburg ‘Kunstkamera’ in the Eighteenth Century.” History of Education 37(4) (2008): 531-47.


The radical reforms of Peter the Great of Russia (1672-1725) transformed the whole country. Among his educational reforms, the establishment in 1714 of the first public museum as a tool for public education had no precedents in Russian history. Its functions were formulated as "teaching and enlarging knowledge of nature, dead and alive, and of artistic human creations". It was opened for all classes of the public, regardless of their wealth or social position. Its name "Kunstkamera"--a chamber of arts and curiosities--was coined in Europe as early as the Renaissance period, but free admission, a logically arranged display, guided tours and free access to the museum library made it more of a modern museum than a princely "cabinet of curiosities". Along with the Ashmolean and the British Museum, the "Kunstkamera" was one of the most important European educational and academic centres of the eighteenth century.