Museums

Nikolai Galkin/TASS

This one-of-a-kind private museum is a collection of miraculously surviving – and working! – slot machines from Soviet time: Battleship, Highway, Gorodki, Repka, Safari and Air Battle, about 50 exhibits in total. Soviet 15 kopeck coins – a rarity nowadays – are used as chips. The iconic soda machines (3 kopecks with syrup, 1 kopeck plain) are here, too. The museum is complemented with a great website, featuring online versions of the same games.

Nikolai Galkin/TASS

This is a large private collection of dolls, assembled by Yulia Vishnevskaya, a theatre artist. The museum currently lists several thousand exhibits, most of them 17th-20th-century dolls from Russia, Europe and Asia, made in a great variety of styles and shapes from many different materials: papier-mâché, porcelain, glass, wood, plastic, etc. Doll accessories are also on display: doll houses, furniture, doll dogs and doll outfits, where not a single detail is forgotten, be it an umbrella, a pair of gloves or a hat with a pin.

Nikolai Galkin/TASS

This is a vast collection of genuine early human bones and skeletons, unearthed by Russian paleontologists on challenging missions. The collection was started by a paleontologist of international renown, Vladimir Amalitsky, who is credited with numerous discoveries. He had found massive quantities of animal fossils on the banks of the Northern Dvina River in the late 19th century. Those animals lived about 300 million years ago. Amalitsky's finds were the beginning of this collection. The museum is located on the grounds of Uzkoye Estate, close to Tyoply Stan Metro station in the outskirts of Moscow. The building, in which the museum is housed, was built for it specially. Thanks to the abundance of room, the curators have been able to put skeletons of mind-boggling sizes on display, such as the skeleton of a tarbosaurus, one of the largest predators that ever lived on the planet, and a 30-metre (98-foot) mould of a diplodocus skeleton. A colourful educational panel many metres across demonstrates the evolutionary processes. The museum offers tours and master classes. When you are through with the museum, you may want to take a walk in the forest/park nearby, where you will find the former estate of Pyotr Trubetskoy. His 1880s Neoclassical mansion is still there, as are the ponds and the beautiful vista lined with larches.

Mikhail Mettsel/ТАSS
This is a serious museum of space exploration, boasting an incredible collection of exhibits that kids any age will find interesting. There are thousands of items on display: from archive documents to lunar soil samples to the first Sputnik. Here you will find the spacesuits of famous cosmonauts, stuffed dummies of the legendary dog cosmonauts Belka and Strelka (their real names were Albina and Markiza), the amazing suction toilet from a space station, and the favourite amusement of all visitors – space food in cans, tubes and vacuum packs. You can also buy some space preserves in the museum gift shop, opened a couple of years ago. The museum is conveniently organized for independent touring: each exhibit comes with a detailed description, so you probably will not need a tour guide. Space documentaries run non-stop in one of the rooms.
Nikolai Galkin/TASS

A colossal assemblage of stuffed animals and dummies, placed in windows against the backdrop of highly detailed geographical props, this would be a good introduction to the "museum world" for a young child. No matter what the sign says, kids will have so much fun here with hundreds of furry, tailed and teethed things – rodents, foxes, wolves, etc. – staring at you from behind the glass. The museum takes up several floors, and every floor showcases the wonders of evolution, mutation, and other miracles of life. The dinosaur dummies in the interactive Reptiles of Chalk showcase start moving a few times every hour. The displays are so organized that visitors find themselves now in the wilderness, now in the taiga, now at the bottom of the sea. The climate zones of Russia and the former Soviet Union are represented best of all. The museum offers guided tours and master classes. At the interactive centre, Know Yourself, Know the World, kids and parents get to inspect insects under a microscope, or mould a DNA molecule. Do not overlook the miraculous scales, where you can weigh yourself in "cats," "mice" or "elephants."

Nikolai Galkin/TASS

This is a small specialized museum, wholly devoted to the history of street illumination in Moscow. The streets of old Moscow, fashioned with props, demonstrate street lights from different epochs, from the evanescent wicker lamp to gas burner to electric light to late 20th-century neon illumination. All kinds of lighting fixtures are available for close inspection. Visitors will travel back in time to see night-time Moscow 50 or 200 years ago. In the evening, museum staff will take you on a tour of nearby streets, explaining the nuances of Moscow's street illumination. The museum offers fascinating master classes, for example, how to make your own electric light, or a class on candle painting.

Nikolai Galkin/TASS

This fairy-tale palace in the centre of Moscow used to belong to the Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov, who had designed it at the end of the 19th century. Vasnetsov was the foremost illustrator of folk tales, who made such folk characters as the Bogatyrs, Baba Yaga and Ivan Tsarevich famous. Vasnetsov and his family lived in this house for over 30 years. Despite its modest size, the museum boasts 25,000 exhibits: hand-carved furniture, a cupboard that looks like a folk palace in its own right, a sword, a chain armour, some chests and, last but not least, a collection of Vasnetsov's folk tale paintings. The artist lived on the first floor, and worked on the second. And that is how the exposition is organized: the everyday life below, the art and Russian folk characters – above.

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