The Kunstkamera consists of two symmetrical 3-level wings connected by a multilevel tower with a cupola.
The halls were mainly arranged according to the fashionable principle of enfilades or suites of rooms. The interior halls were linked together by stairways and surrounding galleries on all floors. On the second and third floors spacious and well-illuminated halls occupied most of the space; the side wings accommodated various offices. New and quite fashionable kinds of interior decoration widely used in the building included sculptures, bas-reliefs, and medallions depicting Roman emperors and ancient philosophers. Thus history and the other sciences made their way to Russian society with the help of the artistic idiom. Peter wanted the "ancient Greek men of science" to be known in Russia; he wanted his fellow-citizens to learn the classical heritage.
The Kunstkamera (Kunstkammer) building was originally designed by the architect George Mattarnovy in the Baroque style. Nicolaus-Friedrich Harbel, Gaetano Chiaveri, and Mikhail Zemtsov participated in later design modifications and supervised the construction after Mattarnovy’s death.
The construction work moved slowly, too painfully slowly for Peter the Great – the tsar became frustrated and impatient and rushed the builders, went into the smallest details and often paid for construction out of his own pocket. Unfortunately, he never lived to see the completion of the Kunstkammer. By the beginning of 1725, when Peter died, only the walls had been put up. The tower and the interior decoration of the Kunstkammer were completed only after his death.
After the fire in the Kunstkamera building in 1747, several halls had to be refurnished. The wooden tower which was destroyed in the fire of 1747 was only restored 200 years later. At the same time the tower was crowned with a famous armillary sphere (design by R. I. Kaplan-Ingel)