Museum's Botany collection holds 1 794 specimens of herbarium leaves, fruits,
seeds, fragments of trunks, individual leaves, etc.
herbarium material collected by Darwin museum’s founder Alexander Kohts in the early twentieth century is mainly of memorial value.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.).
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
sp.) on the left and the thorny devil (Molochus harrydius Gray) on the right.
The thornback ray (Raja clavata) and the catshark
Bird egg and nest collections
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
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
The nest of a red wood
ant (Formica rufa L.), insection.The nest of a common wasp (Vespula vulgaris L.).
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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.
beetles (Buprestidae family).Tropical cicadas (Tosena sp.).
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
Fossil shark teeth collection
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.
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
The collection is of
significant interest to paleontologists with various specializations.
Teeth of a
fossil shark (Striatolamia usakensis Glickman).
sp.).Brachiopods (Choristites sp.).
Museum History Collection
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.
instruments of Dmitry Fedulov. The office of Alexander Kohts with authentic furniture, books, and personal belongings.
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
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.