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Exhibits from St. Petersburg’s Kunstkammer to be displayed in British Museum


Almost a hundred objects will be showcased.

Ethnographic objects from St. Petersburg’s Kunstkammer museum will be showcased in the British Museum in London as part of a large-scale project dedicated to the global climate change.

Anna Bezkrovnaya, Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter, found out what will be on display.

The objects on the table are over 8 thousand years. The skull of a bear that ancient people hunted is next to the skull of a dog that helped them hunt. After a successful hunt, they would eat from such wooden plates. Those people lived on Zhokhov Island in the Arctic. Now, their things are part of the collection of the Russian Academy of Sciences to be sent to Britain for an exhibition dedicated to Northern regions.

St. Petersburg is bringing almost a hundred exhibits like needles that prehistoric fashion designers used to make fur clothes almost 30 thousand years ago, or mammoth tusks, which were used for making dishware and weapons.

Vladimir Pitulko, senior researcher with the Paleolithic department of the Institute of the history of material culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, tells: ‘This is a spear made from a mammoth tusk. You could hunt other mammoths with it.’

Other exhibits from Kunstkammer to be displayed in London include shamans’ attires, figures cut from animal bones, spoons and protective plates from whalebone found where nowadays the city of Salekhard is.

Stanislav Belsky, senior researcher of the archaeological department of the Kunstkammer, explains: ‘Several breast plates were found there. They are parts of an armour made from whalebone. Warriors put it on to protect their breast from arrows.’ 

These small scales are a sort of ancient Kevlar. They were woven together to protect warriors from enemy weapon. Many of the exhibits were discovered recently after ice started melting. And this will be one of the topics of the exhibition, as the global warning affects this region the most.

‘Two degrees is already a climate revolution for the Arctic. In the Stone Age, the temperature was two degrees higher than now, and Zhokhov Island was inhabited. The same is true for the climate in the Arctic today,’ Andrey Golovner, Director of Kunstkammer, says.

People may have to leave the currently inhabited Arctic regions due to the warming as there will be no land, only water. And the exhibition in the British Museum is to draw attention to this problem.

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel