St Petersburg has hundreds of museum and many of the smaller ones are often unfairly overlooked by tourists. One such hidden gem is, quite literally, the Geological Museum which is part of the Aleksandr Karpinsky All-Russian Scientific and Research Geological Institute. St Petersburg has so many great museums to visit, that many people may be put off visiting the Geological Museum thinking it is just bunch of rocks.
Of course it is just a bunch of rocks, but they are carefully categorised and displayed in old-fashioned cabinets. The thousands of specimens on display represent the whole spectrum of colours and some are extremely beautiful.
Also on display are some fossils and a full dinosaur skeleton.
As pretty as the rocks are, the real highlight of this museum is the unique map of the USSR which is made completely out of precious stones.
The panel measures almost 6 metres by 4.5 metres and it is a precise copy of a geographic map of the USSR made to a scale of 1:1,500,000.
It consists of 98 sections and weighs 3500kg.
The mosaic panel is made of 45,000 plates of jasper, lapis lazuli, amazonite and rhodonite and decorated with faceted aquamarines, topaz, phenakite, rhinestones, precious opals and other gems.
Different styles of mosaics are used for the territory of the USSR and the territory of foreign countries and waters. Latitude, longitude, meridians, railways and all place names are made out of platinised silver. Cities and towns are marked with gilded silver stars or precious stones.
The capital of the USSR - Moscow - is marked by a ruby star with a hammer and sickle decorated with 17 diamonds,
Leningrad is represented by alexandrite,
and diamonds were used to depict the North Pole due to their purity and beauty. The names of all capitals of the Union republics were made of natural emeralds (1,095 stones were used in total).
Precious stones were also used to show all the great construction projects of the Soviet Union at the time.The idea of creating such a map depicting Soviet industrialisation came about in 1936 in the run up to the 20th anniversary of the October Revolution and it took over 11 months to complete. In May 1937 it was exhibited at the World Exhibition in Paris and in April 1939 - at the World Fair in New York. In 1946, the map was given to the State Hermitage Museum and exhibited until 1982.
Later it was transferred to permanent storage, partly due to its value but also due to the sensitive information it contained in terms of industrial projects. Thankfully now anyone who so wishes can have at a look at the masterpiece on display at St Petersburg Geological Museum.
|Location||74 Sredny Prospekt, Vasilievsky Ostrov||В.О., Средний проспект 74|
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