Botany collection

Botany collection

Curator: Gennady Kurilin.   The Museum's Botany collection holds 1 794 specimens of herbarium leaves, fruits, seeds, fragments of trunks, individual leaves, etc. The first herbarium material collected by Darwin museum’s founder Alexander Kohts in the early twentieth century is mainly of memorial value. A historically important exhibit is a small herbarium sent to Alexander Kohts by Hugo Marie de Vries, a Dutch botanist and one of the first geneticists. The specimen illustrates the experiments of the latter on the evening primrose (Oenothera lamarckiana). Unfortunately, over time, this herbarium has lost its colors. The herbarium collected by V.V. Kozhemyakin in the early 70s in the northern aimags (provinces) of Mongolia is of great scientific value. It contains 740 herbarium sheets.  Of certain interest is the crops material of barley, wheat, rye and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), collected in Dagestan at an experimental breeding station near the city of Derbent. It is used in museum permanent exhibition to illustrate the laws of genetics. Herbariums with clover leaves that are trifoliate, quatrefoiled, cinquefoil, or septfoil are also interesting.A herbarium sheet with the evening primrose (Oenothera lamarckiana) – a gift from Hugo Marie de Vries.

Archive collection

Archive collection

Curator: Peter Plyutto.Museum’s Archive collection maintains 9 792 objects, including scientific documents and research papers, as well as correspondence.The basis of this collection is the personal archive of the Museum’s founder and first director Alexander Kohts, his spouse - zoopsychologist Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, as well as some other employees who worked at the Museum since the very beginning.The collection includes personal archives of an animalist artist Michael Ezuchevsky, who used to work for Darwin museum, and the one of his father – a renowned physicist Dmitry Ezuchevsky, as well as the archive of a prominent Russian scientist, zoologist and naturalist remembered for his work on mammalogy Sergey Ognev.Of special historical and cultural value are the five genuine letters of Charles Darwin addressed to Dr. A. Ernst. Currently, the Archive collection is being systematized and cataloged.  A letter from Francis Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin, to Dr. A. Ernst.A letter from Charles Darwin to Dr. A. Ernst.The noble birth certificate of Michael Ezuchevsky, 1903.

Lepidoptera collection

Lepidoptera collection

Curator: Pavel Bogdanov. The Museum’s Lepidoptera collection contains approximately 52 568 specimens. It is based on tropical butterflies donated to the museum by a private collector A.S. Khomyakov, as well as purchased by Alexander Kohts from the company of Rosenberg (England) and from the company of A. Blanca, Moscow (in total about 1 000 specimens). The most notable ones are of the genera Ornithoptera, Trogonoptera, and Troides (a family of Swallowtail butterflies), as well as about 60 specimens of the genus Delias (the Pieridae family), collected in the late 19th - early 20th centuries on the New Guinea island, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands by Albert Meek. Almost all of the mentioned material is well preserved. However, unfortunately, most of the specimens don’t have labels indicating the place of collection, therefore, have exclusively demonstrative value. A number of these butterflies are part of the museum’s permanent exhibition and are displayed on the 3d floor in the Zoogeography hall. Another remarkable although not as numerous part of Lepidoptera collection is butterflies (about 50 specimens) collected by Eugène Le Moult in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, a town in French Guiana at the beginning of the 20th century.   In the 1970s and the 1990s the Museum collection was replenished by private collections of prominent Russian scientists and professors. One of them is a collection of butterflies from the territory of the former USSR (about 21 000 specimens), which has ranges of type specimens of the 70 percent of the species within the mentioned territory. For example, the selection of the Tien Shan blue (Agriades pheretiades) is represented by more than 250 specimens and covers all known at that time subspecies living in the mountain systems of the Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai. Another one is a collection of butterflies and moths (more than 14 000 specimens) from not only the territory of the former USSR, but from South America and Southeast Asia, including the Sunda and Maluku Islands, as well as the New Guinea. All material from both collections is carefully labeled and of great scientific value. Several specimens from these collections served as typical material helping to define new taxa of butterflies of the Palearctic fauna. In the mid and late 80s, the museum purchased extensive scientific material mainly on the families of the swallowtail butterflies, the Satyrinae and Agriades from Moscow entomologists. In December 2004, the museum completed the collection of swallowtail butterflies – 2 530 specimens from a private collection, including 140 specimens of the genus Ornithoptera and Troides, and about 1 000 specimens of various species of the genus Parnassius, as well as a number of the Himalayan-Tibetan fauna species, and about 70 specimens of 40 species of swallowtail butterflies new to the museum's collection.   In recent years, the collection has been replenished mainly by the efforts of the museum’s chief curator Pavel Bogdanov (about 8,000 specimens from various regions of Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Polar Urals and the southern part of Transbaikal), as well as through occasional collections by museum employees, purchases and taxidermy mounts made of old materials received from some Moscow collectors.   The collection materials were used to define a number of new species and subspecies of butterflies on the territory of Russia and neighboring countries (former republics of Central Asia, China, Mongolia). Currently, the collection contains 627 type specimens (holotypes, paratypes, neotypes) of various species and subspecies of butterflies described in the period between 1993 and 2006, which makes the collection scientifically valuable. Both domestic and foreign lepidopterologists regularly use the materials for their research. Color photos of about two hundred specimens are used in systematic tables of “Guide to the Butterflies of Russia and adjacent territories” by V.K. Tuzov, P.V. Bogdanov, vol. 1 (1997) and vol. 2 (2000).   The drawer with the Adonis blue (Lysandra bellargus Rott.).The drawer with the banded Apollo (Parnassius delphius Ev.).

Spirit collection

Spirit collection

Darwin museum spirit collection contains 2 148 fluid-preserved specimens. It was traditionally used as a raw material to replenish collections of taxidermied animals and other exhibits. The collection represents all classes of vertebrates and several systematic groups of mollusks, sponges, crustaceans, worms, and insects. It was formed according to the main idea of the museum – to highlight the main problems of evolution. A significant number of the specimens were purchased by Alexander Kohts from foreign trading companies, such as Schluter (Germany), Fritsch (Austria-Hungary), Scheer (Russia). In 1918, Professor Yury Belogolovy passed to Kohts a collection of African Polypterus and some other fish, which he collected during the expedition to the Congo and the Niger River basin, organized by the Moscow Society of Naturalists in 1914. Some species were donated by Sc.D. Maria Sadovnikova-Koltsova.   Among the vertebrate specimens the most numerous are the amphibians, reptiles, and fish. The specimens allow us to demonstrate the diversity of life forms in the kingdom Animalia, including those interesting in terms of their external morphology, such as salamanders and frogs (the olm, some species of newts, the salamander, the Mole salamander, the common midwife toad, the common Suriname toad, tree frogs), reptiles (the thorny devil, some species of chameleons, various species of snakes), a variety of fish (Elasmobranchii, Lungfish, Polypteriformes).   The collection contains almost all systematic groups of invertebrates, including Siboglinidae, Comb jellies (Ctenophora), Cnidaria, Sponges, Echinoderm, Tunicate, Mollusca, various worms (including parasitic ones), most arachnid and insect orders. A number of the collection specimens allow to demonstrate the basic patterns of individual development in insects (Hymenopterans, Diptera or flies). There are also examples of rare species of tropical Myriapoda and Arachnida. Worth to be noted is a decent collection of various species of African fish collected in Ethiopia between 1986 and 1995, as well as botanical specimens, various species of sponges, echinoderms, corals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles collected in Brazil, Australia, the islands of New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji, New Hebrides, Lord Howe Island, as well as the atolls Funafuti and Marakei between 1971 and 1983. Valuable material on crustaceans (various types of crabs) in recent years was brought from expeditions to Thailand and Malaysia (the Andaman Sea) by Darwin museum employee Alexander Alyakrinsky.   Of great scientific interest is the collection of bird embryos, comprising 218 specimens, donated to the Museum. This collection of 22 species of different families demonstrates species-specific features of embryogenesis. The collection of spirit brains of mammals deserves special attention. It contains specimens of Marsupials, Pilosa, Eulipotyphla, Rodents, Lagomorphs, Carnivores, Pinnipeds, Cetaceans, Proboscidea, Tylopoda, even-toed ungulates and odd-toed ungulates. This collection, obtained from the Moscow Zoo, comprises 173 specimens. Of particular interest are the fluid-preserved newborns and young mammals of almost all the main orders starting from marsupials and insectivores to pinnipeds and primates. Some samples demonstrate examples of common individual development disorders, such as abnormally developed calves.   Today, the collection is completed by occasional collections by museum employees, as well as through donations of raw materials from the Terrarium Center and the Moscow Zoo. Chameleon (Chamaelio sp.) on the left and the thorny devil (Molochus harrydius Gray) on the right. The thornback ray (Raja clavata) and the catshark (Sciliorhinus beshardi). 

Bird egg and nest collections

Bird egg and nest collections

Curator: Igor Fadeev   The museum collection comprises 7 119 nests, clutches, and individual eggs. First clutches of eggs were bought by Alexander Kohts in 1913 from European trading companies, including nests and clutches with cuckoo eggs, illustrating the phenomenon of nest parasitism and the evolution of nest-building skills. The oldest specimens date back to the 1870s. In the 1920s, a private collection of bird eggs was donated to the museum. Unfortunately it was poorly labeled. Nevertheless, it represents almost the entire European Avian fauna. Later, a collection of bird nests collected by Sc.D. Maria Sadovnikova-Koltsova, including a series of nests of African weavers at different stages of weaving, completed the museum’s collection.   The collection holds samples from Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, India, and Western Europe, yet the majority of specimens come from Russia and the former Soviet republics. Of particular value is the egg of the extinct Madagascar ostrich-like Elephant bird, a member of the extinct ratite family Aepyornithidae. It was made up of fragments of a genuine shell, donated to the museum in 1999 by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. No less interesting is a series of eggs of various breeds of poultry, primarily chicken and goose.   Today the collection is regularly replenished by specimens from private collections as well as those collected by the Museum’s employees. The nest of a long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus L.). Nests and clutches. The upper left is of the northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus L.), the upper right is of the European robin (Erithacus rubecula L.), the lower left is of the common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus L.), and the lower right is of the northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe L.).

Insect nest collection

Insect nest collection

Curator: Tymophey Levchenko. The Museum’s Insect nest collection contains 203 specimens. The collection’s core is a selection of nests of various insects purchased by Alexander Kohts in Germany from the company of W. Schluter, as well as nests of Hymenopterans collected individually in the 1930s by entomologist A. Gutbir, commissioned by Alexander Kohts. A significant part of the collection consists of nests of different species of hymenoptera and termites, collected by Sc.D. Maria Sadovnikova-Koltsova. The specimens were selected mainly to be displayed in the future permanent exhibition of the museum. The nest of a red wood ant (Formica rufa L.), insection.The nest of a common wasp (Vespula vulgaris L.).

Graphics collection

Graphics collection

Curator: Antonina Nefedova   The collection holds 9 234 specimens, including all kinds of graphic works - drawings (pencil, ink, drybrush, sanguine, pastel, sauce, felt-tip pen), watercolors (colored, grisaille), mixed media (watercolor-gouache, watercolor-tempera, gouache-tempera, and other combinations), lithography, linocut, woodcut, etching. The collection represents graphic works of various topics. Basically, these are sketches from life and various kinds of plot compositions (often sketches) by the leading Russian animalist artists of the classical school - V.A. Vatagin, V.V. Trofimov, V.A. Belyshev, K.K. Flerov, N.N. Kondakov, E.E. Nikolsky, A.N. Komarov, A.N. Formozov, G.N. Glickman, as well as artists of a later period - L.V. Khinshtein, I.P. Makoveeva, S.V. Tsigal, V.A. Gorbatov, M.M. Kukunov, V.M. Smirin. Of considerable interest is book illustrations for various scientific, popular science, fiction, and children's books by V.V. Trofimov, N.N. Kondakov, O.F. Khludova, V.A. Belyshev, A.N. Komarov, G.E. Nikolsky, and other authors. The jewel of the museum collection is a series of graphic images of monkeys depicting their emotional manifestations and psychological state by Vasily Vatagin, as well as scientific graphic reconstructions of fossil animals by Konstantin Flerov. They were commissioned specifically for the future museum’s permanent exhibition.   In addition to works of the animalistic genre, the collection also contains graphic works on historical topics, such as pastels by Mikhail Ezuchevsky on the history of the natural science topic."The family of lynx" by A.N. Komarov. Dry brush on paper, 1969."An eagle with prey" by A.N. Komarov.Oil tinted autolithograph, the 1950s.

Paintings collection

Paintings collection

Curator: Antonina Nefedova.   The museum collection maintains 1 850 artworks performed on canvas, cardboard, and plywood (mostly oil, less often tempera). Since the beginning of the 20th century, at different times, the best Russian animalist artists such as V.A. Vatagin, A.L. Komarov, N.N. Kondakov, V.V. Trofimov, K.K. Flerov, A.N. Formozov, V.A. Belyshev worked for the museum. Their wonderful paintings, a significant part of which can be seen at the museum's permanent exhibition, is the heart of the collection. A well-known series of paintings (oil on canvas) by V. A. Vatagin on the topic of zoogeography, sketched from the author's watercolors, were commissioned for the "Atlas of zoogeography" by Professor M. A. Menzbira published in Moscow, 1911. Of great interest are paintings by Vasily Vatagin and Konstantin Flerov depicting extinct animals with great scientific accuracy. Most of them are also exhibited in Darwin museum halls. A significant number of paintings by Vasily Vatagin, Konstantin Flerov, and Mikhail Ezuchevsky is covering one topic - "Animals in the service of man". White-headed Cockatoo by Vasily Vatagin. Oil on cardboard, 1919. Portrait of a young Charles Darwin with the botanist John Henslow by Viktor Evstafiev. Oil on cardboard, 1960. Cassowaries by Vasily Vatagin. Oil on canvas, 1938.Fauna of the mountainous areas of Indochina by Vasily Vatagin. Oil on canvas, 1939.

Coleoptera collection

Coleoptera collection

Curator: Pavel Bogdanov. The collection contains 64 373 specimens (including over 63 thousand specimens of beetles). The core of this collection is the specimens from the private collection of A.S. Khomyakov and materials purchased from the company of A. Blanca (Moscow). These are mainly tropical beetles, orthoptera, cicadidae, hymenoptera, and odonata mostly from various regions of Central and South America, Western and Southeast Asia, as well as the islands of the Malay archipelago. Worth to be noted is a collection of beetles gathered and mounted in double-sided boxes made in the shape of books at the end of the 19th century. This collection comprises about 30 000 specimens the majority of which is attributed to the families of Scarabaeidae, Lucanidae, Buprestidae, and Cerambycidae covering pretty much the whole of the world fauna. Unfortunately, the collection at one time was seriously affected by pests. At the moment, the museum staff is carrying out its systematic restoration. The collection holds a great variety of Palaearctic species of the Carabidae (the genus Carabus, Callisthenes and Calosoma) and Scarabaeidae families. Currently, the collection contains 26 type specimens (paratypes) of various subspecies of Ground beetles (the genus Carabus) described by D.V. Obydov in the 90s, which increases its scientific value.   In the 1970s, the collection of beetles was replenished with interesting specimens collected in the northern aimags (provinces) of Mongolia by the former chief curator of Darwin museum V.V. Kozhemyakin. In the 1980s, significant scientific material was purchased from Moscow entomologist M.L. Danilevsky. It included mainly specimens of the families Carabidae, Cerambycidae, and Tenebrionidae.  Over the past 20 years, the collection has expanded significantly due to regular collections by the museum staff - D.V. Obydova and O.A. Gvozdeva - on the territory of Russia and the republics of Central Asia, as well as through occasional contributions of other employees. Tropical jewel beetles (Buprestidae family).Tropical cicadas (Tosena sp.).

Herpetology collection

Herpetology collection

Curator: Dmitry Myloserdov The collection of amphibians and reptiles holds 292 taxidermied animals as well as some osteological material. The most notable specimens are taxidermy mounts of such rare species as the gharial, tuatara, Galápagos giant tortoise, the aldabra giant tortoise, and the giant salamander (Andrias) bought by Alexander Kohts in 1913 from various foreign companies (Schlüter, Umlauf, Rosenberg), as well as skulls of very large specimens of the Nile crocodile and the family Gavialidae. Of interest is a decent selection of different types of Palearctic and North American snakes. In recent years, the collection has been replenished with specimens (mainly snakes and lizards) collected by the museum staff during expeditions to Soviet Central Asia and Primorye (the Far East of Russia, Khabarovsk Krai, and Primorsky Krai).   Toads. The European green toad (Bufo viridis Laur.) on the left and the common toad (B. bufo L.) on the right.

Fossil shark teeth collection

Fossil shark teeth collection

Curator: Eugenia Baykina.   The museum collection comprises 113 010 specimens and dates back to the mid-50s of the 20th century. Formed by a renowned paleichthyologist from St. Petersburg Leonid Glickman, it contains specimens from various regions of Ukraine, the Volga region, Kazakhstan, and Soviet Central Asia. Today it includes material collected by V.I. Zhelezko and V.A. Kozlov (Yekaterinburg), as well as fragmented material from other private collectors. The collection is of great scientific value as its materials provided necessary information for Leonid Glickman to write two extensive monographs - “Paleogene Sharks and Their Stratigraphic Significance” (Moscow, 1964) and “The Evolution of Cretaceous and Cenozoic Lamnoid Sharks” (Moscow, 1980), as well as several articles in which the author defines several new species and genera. The typical material (holotypes) representing new taxa significantly increases the collection’s scientific value. The collection is of significant interest to paleontologists with various specializations.   Teeth of a fossil shark (Striatolamia usakensis Glickman).   Ammonite (Simbirskites sp.).Brachiopods (Choristites sp.).

Museum History Collection

Museum History Collection

Curator: Anna Vasylyeva The collection holds 1 495 objects, including everyday items and working tools of the Museum’s employees (Alexander Kohts, Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, Philipp Fedulov), as well as furniture of Alexander Kohts, Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, and Russian embryologist, professor Alexander Kowalevsky. Taxidermy instruments of Dmitry Fedulov. The office of Alexander Kohts with authentic furniture, books, and personal belongings. 

Mollusc collection

Mollusc collection

Curator: Alexander Alyakrinsky. The collection includes 20 325 specimens. It was started by Alexander Kohts in the early 20th century. Among the earliest arrivals is a collection of marine tropical molluscs of E.K. Popov and a collection of terrestrial gastropods from the Hawaiian Islands. In the 1970s, the museum collection was replenished by more than 1000 specimens of tropical molluscs collected during the Pacific expeditions of the Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (1971 and 1977) to the littoral zones of New Guinea, Fiji, Western Samoa, New Caledonia, Nauru, Tuvalu, Lord Howe Island, New Hebrides Archipelago. Between 1981 and 1986 Moscow collector K.N. Gaidenko donated to the museum 7 479 shells of marine gastropods and bivalves. In 1992, the museum acquired a valuable collection of land molluscs from Russia and neighboring countries, collected by A.G. Kuznetsov (about 1 100 specimens). In recent years, the collection has been intensively replenished with the help of a Museum employee Alexander Alyakrinsky (about 4 000 specimens of marine, freshwater and land molluscs from Central Asia, Siberia, the Far East, and various regions of Southeast Asia). The collection of cone snails (Conidae) of Darwin Museum contains 502 specimens of 136 species. Its illustrated description was published as a catalog in 2005.   Murex - carnivorous marine gastropod molluscs in the family Muricidae - as well as cones, are predators. They mainly prey on bivalve mollusks. To eat such a mollusk, murexes drill a small hole in the victim’s shell, or crush the latter by squeezing it between the horny lid and the opening of its shell. Many murexes have a very beautiful shell. In some species, it is decorated with bizarre outgrowths and spikes. The museum collection holds 490 specimens of murex.   Cypraea, or cowries, are also very beautiful. The surface of their shells is very smooth, as if polished. For centuries, the shells of some types of Cypraea have been used as a means of payment not only in the tropical countries which they inhabit but also far beyond their borders. The museum collection comprises 506 specimens of Cypraea, some of which are exhibited in a showcase of the Zoogeography hall.   Unlike families of marine mollusks mentioned above, representatives of the family Achatenillidae are terrestrial molluscs. All of them live on the tropical islands of the Pacific Ocean, mainly in Hawaii. Their shells are of very bright color and exhibit strong individual variability. The museum collection comprises about 1 400 specimens of this family.   The major part of Darwin Museum molluscs collection is well labeled, preserved and is of scientific value to malacologists. Scallop shells (Chlamys rubida Hinds) in the upper left corner, Pecten irradians Lam. in the upper right corner, Lyropecten nodosa L. at the bottom. Cones. From left to right: Conus tessulatus Born., Conus bengalensis Ocut., Conus amadis Gmelin, Conus vitulinus Hwass.