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There is hardly a person in the multilingual world that surrounds us who, if Russia is mentioned to him, will not think of vodka. Of course, it is one of the many symbols of our country, such as nestling dolls, caviar and brown bear…

The vodka association is absolutely normal, natural and correct, for this drink has long been an indispensable part of Russian life; a necessary element of the most important events in our life, for example, weddings, departures on a long trip, birth of a human being, or a funeral repast. In late modern Russian history, there was a period of time when a bottle of vodka became a kind of national currency, which was used to pay for all sorts of small services, and this way of payment was preferable to cash payments. Also, in the beginning of the 1920's during a serious financial crisis when there was a shortage of monetary units, vodka labels served as cash in Siberia! This drink also plays a significant role in the Russian language and folklore. In other words, vodka is an important component of Russian life, an element of national identity and everyday culture.

 

monah_b.jpgUnfortunately, the centuries long history of this alcoholic drink, which includes many bright and sometimes dramatic episodes, has not been well studied. In many countries of the world museums dedicated to traditional national drinks opened a long time ago. For instance, there is a museum of cognac in France, museums of beer in Germany and Czech Republic. In Russia, which, unfortunately, always had problems with historical memory, there had been no museum of vodka. In St. Petersburg (which is about to celebrate its 300th anniversary and rightfully bears the name of the city of museums) there are museums devoted to dolls, railway transportation, banking, political police, even gramophones and phonographs and now…the Vodka Museum. The Vodka Museum was transferred from St. Petersburg to Moscow not by chance. It is quite symbolic that the museum is now situated in Moscow, which is the historical place this famous drink originates from, XVth century being the starting point of its history. The museum appearedwithin the precincts of the Kremlin in Izmailovo, a unique historical and architectural complex, for pleasure of tourists and guests of Moscow. In all fairness, we have to say that several attempts to make exhibitions dedicated to vodka have already been made in our country.

Let us enter the door of the Vodka Museum and feel the atmosphere of the long gone centuries. Listen to the unhurried story of what is the real vodka, of when its manufacture began and the role it has played in the history of Russian civilisation.

The guests of the Vodka Museum have a unique opportunity to see that the process of wine distillation (the original name for vodka production) was very up-to-date for that time period. In the museum halls the visitors can see an originally made installation, showing a Russian monk by the first distillation unit equipped with all the necessary devices and, first of all, with a coil pipe!

 

vsep_sobor_b.jpgEvery visitor of the Museum can get a feeling Peter's personal orders in the halls devoted to the first quarter of the 18th century. A number of items of the exhibition are connected with such a mysterious phenomenon of Peter's times as the games of «Prince-Pope» and «Prince-Caesar» as well as «the craziest, most-joking and most-drunk council». A drunk crowd of about 200 men rode along the streets of Moscow in sleighs pulled by pigs, goats or bears, entered the yards of noble Muscovites in order to «praise» them and demanded treat and reward for it. The portraits of the terrible «Prince-Caesar» F. Yu. Romodanovsky and «the most joking father Ioanikita, patriarch of Presburg, Kokui and all Yauza» (Nikita Zotov, the governor of the young Peter the Great) are in the Museum's collection, as well as many other illustrative materials that help visitors to understand all the aspects of the times of Peter the Great. The staff of the Museum satisfy the curiosity of all those interested in the personal preferences of the Russian emperors in alcoholic drinks. They will tell visitors what was poured into the famous «Cup of the Big Eagle», what Peter the Great's grandson, the «chance visitor of the Russian throne», Peter the Third drank on each of the 186 days of his reign, as well as what drinks and foods «the Russian Hamlet», emperor Paul the First preferred…

 

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In the Museum visitors can see vodka bottles of different sizes, from shkalik (or kosushka) to shtof and quarter. The pride of the Museum is the bottle produced at the Kronshtadt table wine distillery in 1862. The museum guides can explain to visitors what chekushka is, how big the traditional Russian cup (charka, cheporuha) is, how drinking houses, or kabaks, are different from tractirs that appeared in Russia in the 1880's, and what kinds of vodka were the most popular among members of different social groups. The choices were very wide: «Smirnovskaya», «Petrovskaya», «Popovka» (produced at the distillery of widow Popova) and «Pshenichnaya» (wheat), «Russkoe Dobro» (Russian goods) and «Dvoinaya Gor'kaya» (double bitter)… This list could be continued forever… In the beginning of the 20th century there were more than 5000 wineries in Russia located in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan as well as in other cities.

 

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A very special item of the Museum is a bottle for the famous «Moscow Special» vodka, which was called the Russian national drink by contemporaries and was patented by the government in 1894.

The larger part of the Museum's collection is devoted to the 20th century with all its upheavals and sharp turns of historic fate.

A part of the collection is devoted to the Great Patriotic War and particularly to the story of introducing a daily ration of vodka for the soldiers of the 1st line of the front-line forces, which is traditionally called «Commissar's 100 Grams». The document that stipulated the ration was found in the archives. It turned out that it was not the command of the People's Commissar for Defence, but decree #56200 issued by the State Defence Committee on August 22, 1941 and signed by the chairman of the committee, Joseph Stalin.

After the war (this part of the exhibition is quite extensive) new measures were introduced to improve the quality of vodka and new technologies came to life.

 

Following the story of vodka from the early centuries, the Museum halls bring visitors to contemporary Russia, at the beginning of the 21st century, and tell them about the current state of production and consumption of the 40є strong drink.

Nowadays the companies «Russian Standard» - vodka «Imperia» and «Russian Standard», as well as Moscow «KiN» - vodka «Matrioshka» and «Katusha», are considered to be the producers of the high-quality vodka.

You can book the excursion by phone +7 (499) 166-50-97

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

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Contacts

Russia, Moscow, Izmailovskoe Shosee, 73"G"

"Kremlin in izmailovo"

Work time every day from 10:00 to 20:00

Tel./fax: +7 (499) 166-50-97

Email: museumvodka@mail.ru