The Mining Museum
The Mining Institute was built in the classical Greek Style, resembling the Temple of Poseidon. The main façade, which overlooks the Neva, has a majestic twelve-column Doric portico topped with a pediment. Andrei Voronikhin designed the sculptural ornamentation which was executed by Vasiliy Demut-Malinovsky and Stepan Pimenov. Groups of sculptures have been mounted in front of the main entrance along the edges of the colonnade, as well as bas-reliefs on the frieze with mythological heroes indicating the purpose of the building.
One of the sculptures is that of Pluto, the ruler of the underworld, and Cerberus, the fantastic three-headed dog and guard of the underworld, who carried away the splendid princess, Proserpina, to their domain. The second group depicts the son of Zeus’ son Hercules with Antaeus, the son of the Earth, symbolizing the victory of man over nature, the taming of the forces of the Earth by human reason.
The sculptured frieze, abounding in symbols, circles the building in a 25-meter long band. The subjects are: “Venus comes to the smithy of Vulcan (the god of fire and the patron of blacksmiths) for military accoutrements for Mars” and “Apollo comes to Vulcan for the chariot he made for him”. The sculptured ornamentation on the Mining institute seems to stress the fact that the latter is called upon to help penetrate the secrets of the earth’s depths and place them at the service of man.
The collection of minerals is, I am told, exceedingly valuable. Among other curiosities, we saw a beryl, as large as a middle-sized cucumber, and said to be worth 180,000 roubles, and an enormous block of malachite weighing 3600 lbs. some beautiful models of mines in Siberia, and rich specimens of gold, silver, and other metals.
A Journal of a Tour to Moscow, Robert Paul, 1836
The Mining Institute houses the exhibition of the Mining Museum, which founded at the same time as the Institute. The interiors and the furniture were designed under the supervision of the architect Alexander Postnikov. The Museum’s Hall of Columns, a masterpiece of Russian classicism, is of great artistic value.
Today the Mining Museum boasts one of the world’s finest collections illustrating the composition of the earth’s crust in all its variety. It contains tens of thousands of minerals from over 60 countries, tens of thousands of paleontological remains from geological quarries on different continents, telling about the development of life on earth; hundreds of interesting scale models illustrating the history of mining and mineral processing technology in the 18th and 19th centuries.