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The Moscow State University Zoological Museum

The Moscow State University Zoological Museum in Moscow Moscow University's Zoological Museum is one of the ten largest of its kind in the world and, although there's nothing particularly imaginative or engaging about the way the presentation of the exhibits, there's plenty here of interest to the expert and the layman.

For the specialists among you, the museum houses a rare collection of land and sea invertebrates collected by the German naturalist Karl Semper at the end of the 19th century in the Philippines and until recently thought lost. Most extensive are the entomological collection and the collections of mammals and birds.

The lower hall contains invertebrates, fish, amphibians and reptiles, while the more popular upper hall houses the birds and mammals. There are such unique specimens as the full skeleton of a Steller's sea cow, an unfortunately docile and unsuspecting sea mammal that once lived off the coasts of Kamchatka, and a stuffed wandering pigeon. Both species were hunted to extinction in Russia more than 200 years ago. Among the most popular exhibits are the collection of large, brightly-coloured tropical butterflies, the fine collection of century-old vertebrate skeletons, including the extraordinary skeleton of a humming bird - a masterpiece of reconstruction. The two stuffed giant pandas may, of course, seem a little ominous.

Several of the animals are displayed in their "natural habitat", there is a large collection of art by the best Russian animal painters, and the museum constantly mounts interesting exhibitions.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday - 10:00 to 17:00. Monday - closed. The museum is closed on the last Tuesday of each month.

• SHORT HISTORY

Moscow State University's famous Zoological Museum, named after Mikhail Lomonosov, began in 1791 as the Natural History Cabinet of the Moscow Imperial University.

Almost all the original exhibits were destroyed in a fire in 1812. In 1820 the museum was moved to a different part of the university - the Pashkov House. In 1822 the museum already had more than a thousand vertebrates and around 20,000 invertebrates in its collection, and by the 1850s the collection contained more than 65,000 specimens. In 1866 the museum was opened to the public.

The museum moved to its current location, a specially-constructed building on Bol'shaia Nikitskaia, in 1901. Today the museum, which now holds over 4.5 million specimens, is the sight of important research into invertebrate zoology, entomology, ichthyology, ornithology and other branches of zoology. The museum's findings are published every year in four scientific journals called Researching Fauna.

• ADDRESS AND CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: 6, Bol'shaya Nikitskaya ulitsa, Moscow, 103009, Russia
Telephone: +7 (495) 203-8923
Transport: Okhotny Ryad or Aleksandrovsky Sad Metro stations

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