Visit to Russia - Part 1 - MoscowLast Updated: 27th Apr 2011
By Jolyon Ralph
Visit to Russia - Part 1 - Moscow
I've been to Moscow twice before, but I was delighted to be invited back this year - primarily to attend two different mineral shows, but also to visit more museums that I had missed on my two previous visits. Articles about the other museums will be posted to mindat soon!
Moscow State University (MSU) is the premier university in Moscow. We visited to see a new mineral exhibition which has pride of place in one of the newest academic buildings - the new humanities building.
A simple museum has been created to display a large number of (mostly Brazilian) specimens donated to the university.
These are primarily large "decorator-style" specimens of amethyst, agate and (as in this photo) petrified wood, and are arranged more to give those who have no previous knowledge of minerals some insight into the natural beauty of such things. Perfect for the Humanities building!
Here I am with Tatanya (center), curator of the museum, and Ludmilla (from Mineralogical Almanac magazine)
After a quick walk across the road we went to the main building, the iconic soviet-era main university building. This is where geology and geography are taught (amongst other subjects). And near the top of the building are no less than six floors of museum covering geology, geography and related subjects.
This was my second visit to the MSU museum (I went previously in September 2009) but even so I managed to see lots of things I had missed in my previous visit.
A selection of Charoite slices showing different textures and associated minerals.
Graphic granite with amazonite and quartz.
A matrix specimen of Achtaragdite - usually this is seen as isolated crystals.
This was in a display of synthetic minerals - and it's man-made phlogopite mica.
A 'landscape' trapped in a quartz crystal, formed from chlorite (etc) inclusions.
This is a huge topaz crystal from Volodarsk-Volynskii, Ukraine.
The museum is a teaching museum, so there are plenty of high-quality diagrams, wall-charts, and models to demonstrate different aspects of geological theory.
This set of elements and rare earth oxides (mined in Russia) was presented as a gift to Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev.
A globe of the moon, signed by Neil Armstrong during a visit to the University in the 1970s
My next visit was to another museum familiar to me, the Fersman Mineralogical Museum. I visited this museum several times in 2009 and early 2010 during my previous visits to Russia, and it was great to return to one of the truly great mineral museums of the world. I have a BIG article dedicated to the Fersman museum that I was working on from photos taken on my previous visits, but I will now update it and publish it shortly.
The main purpose of my visit was to give a presentation about mindat.org to russian mineral collectors, curators and scientists.
Fluorescent minerals at the Fersman.
Carnallite from the Fersman Museum
This incredible 16cm silver from Kongsberg, called the "Silver Horn", was a gift from the King of Sweden to Peter the Great, in 1718.
Next stop for us was the Moscow mineral show, held here in the Moscow Pavilion at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre. No expense was spared in obtaining aerial shots of the venue for this article! How? see here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow-850
The show was very busy.
A table at the show
Dmitriy of LBL-Minerals Moscow had a great selection of rare minerals, many self-collected from his trips to Kola and to the Charoite deposit in Yakutia.
Jolyon's trip to Russia 2011 (See article)
Jolyon's trip to Russia 2011 (See article)
And as with mineral shows worldwide, it's a chance to meet with friends - here is Misha from Russian Minerals (left), and Dima from the Fersman Museum (right).
One of the minerals that Russian Minerals were selling - this superb cuprite from Rubtsovskoe, Russia. These cuprite specimens have been a big hit over the last couple of years, but most have a distinctly metallic lusture. This was the first large crystal I saw with some clear translucency.
Our host for this trip was Ludmilla from Mineralogical Almanac, who did an amazing amount to help us make the most of our time in Russia. Here is the Mineralogical Almanac table at the show.
Next trip was a quick visit to the Palaeontological Museum. Those of you who know me know that I'm not heavily into fossils, but I enjoy dinosaurs and weird messed-up ammonites as much as the next man. Unfortunately the outside of the museum does look more like a high-security prison. I was expecting it to be covered with razor-wire and was half-hoping it contained live dinosaurs. Unfortunately, it only had dead ones...
A dinosaur (well, it might be something else. But I'll call it a dinosaur because it sounds more impressive).
Weird messed-up ammonites (I liked these a lot!)
As I may have mentioned, Moscow is a city of Mineral Museums. It seems everyone wants to have their own mineral museum, and even the agricultural university in the suburbs of Moscow has it's own very old mineral museum which is still in use as a teaching museum today.
Here I am talking with the curator of the museum and Ludmilla from Mineralogical Almanac.
Whenever we have the opportunity we open up the drawers and see what goodies they have. I'm rarely disappointed.
This couldn't find in a drawer however, a huge smoky quartz crystal.
A classic pisolitic aragonite from Czechslovakia.
And another classic, this time a Campylite (Mimetite) from the Dry Gill, Caldbeck Fells, England.
My next trip was an out-of-town drive, to the town of Serpukhov, about 60km south of Moscow. Here, in the Historical and Art Museum, a temporary mineral gallery has been put on display.
The specimens have been provided by a local businessman, who is building his own museum of minerals (but more about that in a moment!)
Something interesting and unusual from the moscow region - amethyst crystals growing in flint!
In the displays were a number of large (40-50cm) specimens showing different habits of calcite, from Kazakhstan.
After a quick visit to the gallery, we went to the offices of the owner of these specimens, he runs a construction company called 'Soyuz' (or Union).
He has big ambitions, and wants to build the biggest and best mineral museum in the world! He's already bought some land (next to the office) and intends to start building soon.
Here are the company offices, even though it's meant to be a construction company, every office and desk seems to be filled with minerals. It reminds me of when I owned my own office!
And he had some great specimens! Here is an emerald from the urals.
And a great villiaumite from Kola. This piece was BIG, around 40cm.
and a huge spinel crystal from the Lake Baikal region.
My last visit in Moscow was to a secondary school, here is the geography classroom.
And, like everyone else it seems, they have their own mineral museum as well. The students seemed quite amused that some strange British guy had come to visit.
Many of the specimens in the museum are collected by the students on their field trips (all over Russia). Note also the bench for weight lifting - this was put in the museum to remind those wanting to go on field trips that physical fitness is essential for collecting in the wilds of Russia! The kids have to work hard before they go collecting!
Some examples of minerals from the museum
An excellent large corundum crystal.
a great Lorenzenite crystal (still called Ramsayite by many in Russia)
Here is curator (and geography teacher) Michail Kusmin talking to Ludmilla.
Mikhail and assistant Sergey with some of their students. Mikhail and Sergey (and possibly some of their students) will be at the Mindat Conference in Poland this July.
After visiting the school, we walked the short distance to the Mining University where, of course, they have another mineral museum. But as I had visited this museum on a previous trip, this time my main purpose was to give another presentation, this time about minerals of the United Kingdom.
Here's a view of the mineral museum.
Mikhail had brought with him a self-collected specimen to donate to the museum. This is why the weight training is important!
A boulder of nephrite jade in the Mining University museum.
The next day we took the fast train to St Petersburg - a city I had not visited before, and you can read all about that in part 2!
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