The City History Museum of Irkutsk / Музей истории города Иркутска
ул. Франк-Каменецкого, 16а
Open 10 am to 6 pm
Entrance: 50 rubles general admission, 25 rubles for students with ID
The City History Museum of Irkutsk is a relatively lesser-known museum located not far from the Volkonsky Decembrists Museum and the bus station. The museum gives a rounder picture of the city’s history through its many detailed displays and models, including a section on older history of the region and the findings of past archeological digs. The museum is a great place to learn more in detail about the history of the city. You get to see old photographs of Irkutsk streets and learn more of the history of their name changes, as well as read about the history of Irkutsk’s coat of arms, the city’s triumphal arches, and check out old maps of the entire Baikal region, featuring very different interpretations of its physical layout. The museum contains a number of detailed models of city buildings both old and new, including the Irkutsk ostrog (fortress), the city’s first churches and the Voznesensky monastery, with information on each of their history and construction. There are also a number of displays on life and culture in Irkutsk through the past century, featuring old posters for shows and other city cultural life, as well as objects from everyday life, such as samovars, church bells, crosses, locks, handcuffs, and pocket watches. Another display in the museum is dedicated to the regional presence of Buddhism, both historically and presently, which contains old Buddhist artifacts, texts, and several statues. The displays also go beyond just the Irkutsk area, but also showcase maps of the expedition routes of Bering and Shelikhov, the famous explorers of Siberia and beyond.
On the first floor of the museum is a rotating exhibition hall, where short-term featured exhibitions are held. When I visited the museum, the exhibit on display was on the life and work of Valentin Rasputin – one of Irkutsk’s treasured authors. The temporary exhibit featured photographs from the author’s life, artifacts from his childhood, and artistic renderings of his stories in drawing form.
The City History Museum is definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in the history of both Irkutsk and the wider regions of Baikal and Siberia.