Amber Museum in Kaliningrad RU

Written by  Elżbieta Mierzwińska

The Amber Museum in Kaliningrad is the only Museum in Russia dedicated to a single mineral. Thanks to the proximity of the Palmnicken deposit, the largest amber deposit in the world, it was possible to assemble a varied natural and scientific collection of the precious stone, including a collection of amber with plant and animal inclusions. We also collect ornaments and applied art dating from the Neolithic Age to contemporary times.

The Museum is situated in the centre of Kaliningrad in the fort named after Prussian Field Marshal Friedrich Dohn. The Dohn Bastion, built in 1852- 1853 in Gothic Revival style, is a round two-storey building with a diameter of 34 metres and a height of 12 metres with basements and an open inner courtyard. It consists of 42 casemates, situated on two ring-shaped floors with an enfilade room arrangement. This arrangement is ideal for exhibition purposes.

The Museum opened on 29 December 1979. It was furnished by artists and architects from Leningrad , directed by Gienrich Khazatski. Since its opening, the Museum has attracted five million visitors. In the Museum's 28 halls, spread out over an area of over 1,200 metres , the visitors can see exhibits in five thematic departments:

* The Origin and Properties of Amber

* Amber in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

* Amber in 17 th and 18 th -century Art

* The Kaliningrad Amber Factory

* Amber in Contemporary Art

In the beginning of 2007, the Museum's collection consisted of over 6,800 exhibits. The collection's unique natural forms are deemed especially valuable with some 30 large amber nuggets with unit weights of over 500 grams , including the largest nugget in Russia which weighs 4,280 g.

The collection of natural amber form also includes drops, icicles and several hundred dripstone, under-bark and in-bark formations. Amber's range of colours is represented by 400 exhibits. The Museum's collection includes some four thousand inclusions in amber. Here, the most interesting part is a fragment of the Fritsch tick collection of Goldap, purchased by the Museum in 1990, with 80 specimens in the form of micro-preparations on lenses with descriptive labels. The collection initially numbered over 400 specimens and was considered lost in World War II.

The collections of other fossil resins, amber in the broad sense of the term, consist of some 200 specimens, including: rumenite, gedanite, cedarite, Bitterfeld amber, and fossil resins from Russia , Ukraine , Belarus , Armenia , Azerbaijan , the Dominican Republic , Japan , Borneo and elsewhere.

Amber artefacts

The collection of amber artefacts of old includes items from the 4 th and 5 th centuries CE, found in the Kaliningrad Oblast.

The pride of the art collection are original exhibits from the heyday of amber art in the 17 th century, made by German and Polish masters and donated by the Moscow Kremlin Armoury (Oruzheynaya palata). They include: a 340-piece crosier of the Patriarch of Russia, ornamental mosaic plates, a 37-cm-tall catholic crucifix made of amber, a two-storey coffer and more.

The Museum also has several items from the 18 th century, a collection of 19 th century pipes and products made by the State Amber Factory in Königsberg in 1926 - 1945.

Apart from original exhibits from the modern period, the Museum's 30-year collaboration with the artists and conservators from St Petersburg who worked on the reconstruction of the fabled Amber Room , led to its accumulating a 76 item collection of copies and scientific reconstructions of lost amber masterpieces.

The Amber Museum also has items manufactured by the Kaliningrad Amber Factory and a collection of 700 original pieces by more than 100 contemporary artists from Kaliningrad , St Petersburg , Moscow , Lithuania , Latvia , Germany , the USA and Japan . Apart from jewellery, which makes up the lion's share of this collection, it includes souvenirs, sculpted compositions, applied art and interior decoration items (ship models, chess sets, clocks, lamps, coffers, writing instruments) and decorative panels.


* The author is the curator of the Art Department at the Amber Museum in Kaliningrad