Museum of Local History

Vytegra Local History Museum

Without a doubt, anyone visiting Vytegra will be interested in the unique history and natural life of our ancient region, its age-old traditions, and its distinctive folk culture and trades.  Here Peter the Great and Catherine the Great left their marks, while the region boasts many great construction projects, most notably the Mariinsky and Volga-Baltic canals. On this land much blood was shed in World War II.  Here the famous poet Nikolai Klyuev was born and raised…

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You can learn about all this and more at the Vytegra Local History Museum. The museum’s collection consists of more than 70,000 unique artifacts.  At the museum gift shop visitors can purchase brochures, post cards, books, maps, badges depicting Vytegra and the Vytegra area, and many other items.

The museum’s history began at the turn of the last century. In 1913 the museum opened a wildlife exhibit based on the collection of L. F. Vinnitsky, an engineer working on the Mariinsky canal. In the first years of Soviet power it was transformed into a museum of local history. In 1937, it was relocated to the Sretensky (Feast of Purification) Cathedral.

The Sretensky Cathedral, built in the Russian-Byzantine style for the town’s 100th anniversary, towers over Vytegra  and always attracts the attention of the town’s tourists. In 1997 it was decided that the Cathedral should be returned in full to the Vytegra Orthodox community  and museum’s exhibits moved to another building.  For several years after 1998  the church was shared by the museum and the Orthodox community.

In 2003, the town’s 230th anniversary, the departments of natural history and archaeology were opened in a new building. The natural wealth of Vytegra is displayed there in three new exhibtion rooms.

Magnificent taxidermy, paintings, and art photography provide an integrated vision of the region’s diversity. The exhibition «Antiquities of Vytegra» introduces the history of the region beginning with the Mesolithic Period. The archaeological collection is presented elegantly; it consists of prehistoric stone scrapers, arrows, knives, numerous examples of pottery, ornaments, and amber. Artistically-designed dioramas characterize the life of prehistoric man in the Stone and Iron Ages.

In 1981 the former Mariinsky Canal Hydroelectric Station was was opened as a museum housing the exhibition»Northern Waterways«. The exhibition depicts the history of the construction and operation of the Mariinsky and the Volga-Baltic water routes.  The diorama “Construction of the Lock in 1799», featuring «Boat haulers at the Mariinsky Canal”, has proved especially popular with visitors, as have models of locks, ships, and dredgers, original photographs  and documents, as well as paintings by the artists B. Shvarkov and V. Vetrogonsky that depict both the construction of and the everyday life around the Volga-Baltic Canal, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2004.

Since 1984, Vytegra has been the venue for an annual symposium on Nikolai Klyuev, one of Russia’s most extraordinary poets.  Klyuev was the bard of the stern landscape of the Onega area and of village life; he became the leader of the new-peasant literary movement in 20th century Russian literature (Klychkov, Shiryaevets, Ganin, Oreshin, etc.).  He was repressed and executed in 1937. For more than 40 years after that his name was consigned to oblivion.

In 1991 the exhibition “The Life and Works of N. Klyuev” was opened in a house that once belonged to the merchant A. Loparev, where Klyuev lived from 1921 to 1923. In a room reminiscent of a peasant’s living room, collections of his poetry, as well as rare photographs and documents revealing the difficult and tortuous path of the poet, are displayed in cases designed to recall  Old-Believer-style icon cases.  The exhibition is arranged in chronological order and items that belonged to the poet give it particular authenticity.

The Vytegra district is the only county in the Vologda Region touched directly by World War II. From 1941 to 1944, heavy fighting with the Nazi invaders took place close to Vytegra. In 1994,  an historic and ethnographic museum was opened in the village of Oshta, 60 km west of Vytegra. The primary exhibition is devoted to the defence of Oshta.  Documents, photographs, and war trophies chronicle the actions of the 272nd and 368th infantry divisions and the locally-formed fighting battalions, and commemorate the bravery of the female sappers who cleared Oshta of land mines.  The ethnographic department of the museum is devoted to the history of the Oshta settlement and the culture of Oshta’s Veps (Finno-ugric minority). 

Our address and phone numbers:

Museum Administration:
ul. Internatsionala, d. 2, tel. (81746) 26-7-59.

History Department
ul. Sovetskaya, 1.

Department of Nature and Archeology
pr. Pobedy, d. 4.

Northern Waterways Museum
ul. Sadovaya, 1.

Museum of the Life and Works of N. Klyuev
pr. Lenina, 7.

Oshta Historic and Ethnographic Museum
Village of Oshta, ul. Sovetskaya, 7.

 Fees (Subject to Change)

Museum admission:

Adults – 50 rubles
Discounted (children, seniors, etc.) – 5 rubles

Guided tour of the city:
Adults – 20 rubles
Discounted – 15 rubles

Permit to photograph exhibits: 20 rubles

Permit to make video recordings: 50 rubles

The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (without a break) Tuesday-Saturday.