Top 6 Museums in Moscow Where You Won’t Be Bored
When it comes to museums, Moscow undoubtedly has a lot to offer: there are over 400 private and state museums in the Russian capital, and the oldest ones date back to the middle of the 19th century. Some of them are a must-visit especially if you have only a few days in Moscow. Many of them boast amazing and unique collections of art, jewelry, documents or photographs, and outstanding historical artifacts. But while such renowned museums as the Armoury Chamber and the Tretyakov Gallery allow you only to look at the masterpieces in awed silence, a few Moscow museums have a bit more of an interactive approach to their exposition and turn trivial objects into loads of fun. Here is our top of the unusual museums in Moscow!
1. Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre
First Russia’s “edutainment” museum was the Jewish museum and tolerance center. Its exhibition is not based on historical items but on digital and interactive objects, that allow visitors to learn about the history of the Jewish people in Russia, from the early days of the Russian empire to the modern days. Since the whole of the museum is digital, it is always updated to the newest information, there are multiple lectures, conferences and temporary exhibitions held in it. A lot of attention is also given to the history of the Russian avant-garde – a unique style of art, that was shaped by the ideals of the revolution and the hopes for the new better world. The museum is located in one of the avant-garde buildings, Bakhmetyev Garage, which was renovated specifically for the needs of the Tolerance Center.
2. Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
Museum of Soviet arcade machines is a private collection of the arcades that were made in the USSR in the 1970-1980s. It opened in 2007 when it had just a couple of old arcades, most of which didn’t even work. Currently, the museum has 80 arcades in it, and many are in perfect condition! This is a perfect nostalgia museum: even if you didn’t grow up in the Soviet Union, you can’t help this “Back to the future” feeling and childish urge to challenge your friends for a game of Battleship or Fussball. Instead of a ticket, every visitor gets a bunch of 15 “kopeyka” Soviet coins – exactly the ones, that were used to play on these machines in the USSR in the 1970s. You will also use them as toucans to play on the various arcade machines. The most precious one in the collection is the old Battleship arcade, but there are much more: table basketball, sniper and car rally arcades, and even a fairy-tale based “Repka”: an imitation of a giant turnip that has to be pulled out of the ground. You can take a tour of the museum, and then choose which game seems more interesting to you. There is a sheet of all the games with a short description that the museum workers give to you at the entrance.
3. Moscow Metro Professional Orientation Centre
Moscow Metro Professional Orientation Centre is located inside the metro station Vystavochnaya. It is free to visit, and here you can learn about the history of the metro, its construction, its workers and different professions involved in making Moscow metro such an efficient system. To see the beauty of Moscow metro you need no better museum than the actual stations of the metro – in the Soviet times the stations were decorated with statues, mosaics, and stained glass, and the best architects and engineers worked on the projects of each station. There are tours in Moscow underground, which show the most outstanding and ornate platforms, with their massive chandeliers and beautiful murals. But the Professional Orientation Centre gives you a chance to peek “behind the curtains”, and it is definitely the only place where you can try simulators of different professions, including the train conductor simulation!
4. Cosmonaut Training Centre
If simulator of a metro train conductor is not enough, you need to level up your game and see if you are fit for an even more romantic and tough profession of an astronaut – or, as we say in Russia, a cosmonaut. Such a chance is provided by the Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City. Located not that far from Moscow, this formerly classified town is an actual training center for Russian cosmonauts, and it has functioned since the 1960s. Today it carries the name of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. In this town, you can visit a museum of space exploration, see the models of spacecraft and the actual training machines, learn about the life of cosmonauts, try space food and you can even experience zero gravity if you pass the health check. This is really an out-of-this-world experience!
Another formerly classified object, which is now a museum, is a famous Bunker-42. Go 65 meters down to see a labyrinth of the corridors of this real cold war bunker. Constructed in the center of Moscow by the order of Joseph Stalin, it was a test to see whether Soviet scientists could build protection from nuclear weapons. It was supposed to protect the state officials of the USSR in case of a possible nuclear attack. Now the declassified bunker runs daily tours, and even escape quests and laser tag and strike ball battles!
6. Vodka Museum
Let’s be honest: one of the biggest stereotypes about Russia is that vodka is the most popular drink here, and everyone loves it. Sure, good vodka is a nice drink to have, but it is much more than just a quick way to get drunk: this traditional drink has over 500 years of history and way more flavor and delicacy than gets recognized. Visit the Vodka Museum to learn everything about this drink – the long history and the medieval recipes, the role it played in the daily life of the regular people and the monarchs of Russia. Finally, try all the different sorts of vodka in a degustation room of the museum – this is probably the most important part of the museum visit! To learn more about Russian drinking traditions, the common toasts and beloved drinks other than vodka (and, very importantly, appetizers that pair with them!), visit our favorite Moscow bars with us on a More than just vodka tour. Za zdorovje!
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by Marina Vinogradova