Close to Peter and Paul Fortress on the southern part of Petrogradskaya island is the Museum of Russian Political History.
Established in 1919 as the Museum of Revolution, since 1955 the Museum of Russian Political History has been located in two Art Nouveau buildings. Before the 1917 revolution these buildings belonged to the renowned ballerina M. Kshesinskaya and the timber merchant Baron V Brandt.
The museum was founded at the beginning of the 20th Century at a time of wars and revolutions, when people believed they were creating a world where everyone would be happy.
It became the first museum of its type in the Soviet world. During its 90-year history The Museum of Russian Political History has changed its name and location three times. The museum had periods of crises and success, but survived and even thrived throughout these difficulties.
Today almost all of the turning periods in the history of Russia over the last two centuries are represented by original exhibits in the museum.
The idea of establishing such a museum goes back to before 1917. The victims of the imperial regime from different parties, including democrats, socialists and anarchists, dreamt of opening it after the Tsar’s power was overthrown.
The Museum of Russian Political History starts by displaying documents relating to the military coup d’etat of 1825. This was prepared by noble officers in order to seize power. The tour of the museum continues with documents about the members of the “People’s Will” party, a group who were unsatisfied with the reforms of Alexander the Second. In 1881 they assassinated the Tsar and were subsequently sentenced to death.
The causes of the “Bloody Sunday” revolt, when peaceful demonstrations of workers marching towards the Winter Palace were fired at, are explained. The belongings of participants in these demonstrations help visitors understand what they asked for and what they received. It was just the first event of the revolution of 1905-1907, after which Russian people were given some political freedom and the State Duma was granted legislative powers.
One of the defective banknotes from the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery, which was orchestrated by Lenin and Stalin to raise money, can be seen in the museum and provides a link to the early careers of these famous Bolsheviks.
The inability of the government to save the country during the period of the First World War led to the abdication of Nicholas the Second in March 1917, and to the murder of the Tsar’s family. The installations in the Museum of Russian Political History allow us to imagine the atmosphere of those tragic days.
After the October Revolution, when the provisional government was deposed, the Bolshevik Party led by Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (better known as Lenin) came to power. Following this event, the civil war which lasted five years claimed the lives of between 8 and 13 million people. Video evidence, interviews, posters and other artifacts demonstrate the horrors of that time.
Life in the newly established Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is looked at through the themes “The New Economic Policy”, “Executions”, “the Great Terror”, “The Second World War, and “The Thaw”, leading up until the disintegration of the Soviet Union. These topics give visitors to the museum the impression of a never-to-be-repeated way of power.
The history of the KGB of the USSR is also presented as a difficult, enigmatic and very interesting topic. “Gorokhovaya 2” is the address of the former Police Department, and is now a part of the Museum of Russian Political History where the histories of individual people are represented by means of documents and photos, families’ relics, letters, and memoirs.
The current events and political life of today’s Russia is also embraced by the collection of Museum of Russian Political History, which is growing under a non-stop process.