There are many unique museums in St. Petersburg, and not all of them are known to the general public. So those who are looking for an alternative to the classics or an option for exciting leisure have a wide choice. What unusual and interesting museums of the Northern capital are definitely worth visiting – in our selection.
National Show Museum “Grand Layout Russia”
This is the largest layout of Russia in the world. The large-scale exposition on an area of 800 square meters is an artistic embodiment of the image of our country: from the Far Eastern borders to the amber coast of the Baltic Sea.
Collective images of different cities and regions have been created on the layout field, and genre scenes depict virtually everything that the inhabitants of our country do.
Grand Layout Russia in St. Petersburg. Photo: ATOR
Everything is in motion here: thunder and lightning, ships and cars, airplanes and balloons. More than 200 trains run along routes with a total length of almost 2.5 thousand meters and turn the layout into a single living organism. The speakers add light and sound effects to it, as well as 115 thousand miniature figures in genre scenes.
800 thousand LEDs – a whole sea of lights! – provide a day and night shift every 15 minutes. Both children and adults are delighted with visiting this place.
Address: 16 Tsvetochnaya Street
Museum layout “Petrovsky aquatoria”
In this museum you can look at Petrovsky Petersburg. All the objects, including the lost ones, have been recreated as they looked in the middle of the XVIII century. Therefore, the arrow of Vasilyevsky Island without Rostral columns, the Menshikov estate instead of the university and the old fortress in Oranienbaum, which no longer exists, are waiting for you.
The historical museum layout is made on a scale of 1:87 on an area of more than 500 square meters. In the center of the exhibition there is a bowl filled with water, stylized as the waters of the Neva and the Gulf of Finland, and along the perimeter there are models of architectural ensembles of St. Petersburg.
Petrovskaya Aquatoria Museum layout. Photo: ATOR
In these decorations, the picture of the city’s life unfolds during the time of the Russian emperors from Peter I to Catherine the Great. Everything is in motion: figures of people, carriages, ships. Add to this light, sound and visual effects, changing weather conditions, and here it is, the revived ancient Petersburg!
And in the “Petrovsky aquatoria” thematic excursions are held, in which you can learn all the secrets of cuisine or secrets of fashionistas of the XVIII century.
Address: Malaya Morskaya str., 4/1 (Admiral shopping mall)
The Museum of Railways of Russia
is the main railway museum of Russia and one of the largest technical museums in the world: a unique place where adults and children can get acquainted with the history of Russian railways and rail transport in an accessible and fascinating way, as well as get incredible impressions and relax.
Railway Museum in St. Petersburg. Photo: ATOR
Here, historical artifacts coexist with existing models, interactive installations and halls for temporary exhibitions, forming an unusual museum space.
There are 28 thousand objects on display, including more than a hundred units of rolling stock.You can see the locomotive in the section, ride in an old carriage, be a driver and visit the dining car.
“A wonderful, modern, informative museum for lovers of technology! The level of exposure, multimedia, and information quality are all at a high modern level. Steam locomotives are a complete delight. Invest more time in this museum to explore everything!”, – visitors write in the reviews.
Address: Library lane, 4, k. 2, p. 1
Museum of Applied Arts at the Stieglitz Academy of Art and Industry
Those who are interested in architecture and design should look into this treasure trove. Everything is interesting here: from the building itself and its unique interiors to a collection of objects of applied art from different eras and countries – stucco, painting, stained glass, sculpture, tableware, furniture and much more.
The exposition was conceived as a textbook for students of the Central College of Technical Drawing. The samples of decorative and applied art of Europe and Russia were designed to introduce students to the masterpieces of world culture.
Museum of Applied Arts at the Stieglitz Academy. Photo: ATOR
Once it occupied 32 halls, each of which was decorated in its own style: antiquity, Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic art, Renaissance, Viennese, Flemish, French and Italian Baroque. And none of them were repeated!
Now there are slightly fewer of them open, but everything is still thought out to the smallest detail: for example, the windows in the Teremok hall, stunning with colorful paintings and an interior in the Old Russian style, overlook the church of St. Panteleimon, so that visitors to the hall, the prototype of which was the Moscow Terem Palace, could hear the bells.
Since the A. L. Stieglitz Academy is an operating educational institution, visiting the museum is possible only by appointment in the format of an excursion in a team group or by ordering an individual escort for your group.
Address: Solyaniy Lane, 13
Museum of Sound
This is the only museum in Russia dedicated to the study and promotion of modern experimental music, sound art, unique musical instruments and sound production techniques.
It is no coincidence that he is in such a creative place: the Pushkinskaya-10 art center. The exhibition features original instruments created by musicians to perform their works, graphic scores and multi–channel soundscapes.
Visiting the museum is a rare chance to tap the drums, strum the electric guitar, find out how the theremin, variophone and analog synthesizer “iron” sound, which was used in his performances by the legendary Sergey Kuryokhin.
Would you like to learn to hear the melody of the Palace Square, Lakhta Center or Zenit Arena? Navigate the interactive sound map of St. Petersburg and explore the urban soundscape – from quiet courtyards to a noisy stadium.
Address: 53 Ligovsky Ave.
The Universe of Water Exposition and Exhibition Complex
The interactive museum space tells about the Earth’s water resources, the history of the water supply system, the water supply system and the sewage treatment plants of St. Petersburg. There are several expositions, including multimedia ones. They are housed in a Water tower, a former underground reservoir, and now the architectural dominant of the entire complex.
What awaits the guests? The history of water pipes of different peoples in wells and copper sinks. An underground walk that follows the path of water: from the intake through pipes to apartments and back to the sewage treatment plants.
The exposition “Universe of Water”, where everything can be touched with your hands, and the space around is constantly changing – children will especially like it.
Address: 56 Shpalernaya str.
Museum of the History of Money
The exposition, located in the Anninsky Cavalier building on the territory of the Peter and Paul Fortress, is based on the unique collection of Goznak.
The Peter and Paul Fortress occupies an important place in the history of Russian monetary circulation: in 1724, by order of Emperor Peter I, a coin production was established in the Trubetskoy bastion, and a little later its modern building was built on Cathedral Square. Thus began the history of the St. Petersburg Mint, now a branch of Goznak.
Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Photo Visit-Petersburg.ru
The exhibition “The History of Money” features unique coins, a stamping tool, and the rarest objects of bonistics (including unapproved banknote designs). Many objects are being exhibited for the first time.
Visitors can hold a coin minted from 5 kg of pure gold in their hands, look at their bills under a microscope, look at dynamic models of a coin factory and a paper mill of the XVIII century, compare how coins were made then and now. And of course, learn how to distinguish real bills from fake ones and feel like a millionaire!
“Two floors and money everywhere. I really didn’t want to leave,” one of the visitors wrote in a review.
Address: the territory of Peter and Paul Fortress, 3SH
The museum “One and a half rooms” by Joseph Brodsky
Even if you are not familiar with Brodsky’s work, after going to the “Room and a Half” you will want to learn as much as possible about him. The museum consists of two spaces – the memorial, which occupies part of the communal apartment where the Brodskys lived, and the exposition, which is located on the territory of the apartment adjacent to it.
«…These ten square meters were mine – the best ten square meters that I have known in my life,” the poet wrote about his home. Joseph Brodsky lived in the “one and a half rooms” for 17 years – until he left for emigration. Now they house a museum, an exhibition space and a bookstore “The End of the Beautiful Era”.
The “One and a half rooms” can only be accessed with an excursion, tickets for which are purchased online on the museum’s website. Moreover, visits on weekends and holidays must be booked strongly in advance.
“A very atmospheric place. Created with great love and respect for the poet. The wonderful tour lasts about 2 hours. It tells in detail about the difficult fate of Joseph Alexandrovich. And most importantly, there are a huge number of books by Brodsky, about Brodsky and about those whom Brodsky loved,” one of the tourists said about visiting the museum.
Address: Korolenko str., 14
The luxurious Sheremetyevo Palace houses several collections. More than three thousand instruments are on display in the museum dedicated to the history of music. Russian bells are next to the violin of the famous Italian master Stradivarius, and the signal horns of medieval knights are with copies of musical instruments of ancient times.
In September 2023, the ethnic exposition “Musical Instruments of the World” was opened, which shows how the simplest instruments of different peoples have evolved into perfect creations of masters, allowing you to control the extracted sound.
The nail of the meeting is a real gaming organ made of 42 pipes with open mechanics, made specifically to demonstrate how bellows inflate and air enters the organ pipes.
Address: Fontanka River Embankment, 34
Museum of Shadows
This is an unusual museum space, where samples of modern art in the style of shadow art are presented. All art objects are connected into a single exposition, the main theme of which is St. Petersburg.
Visitors will have an excursion and a meeting with Peter the Great, created from light and shadow, drawbridges, a griffin guarding secrets and other famous characters.
At the Shadow Museum in St. Petersburg. Photo: ATOR
The museum is small, but it will be interesting for both adults and children. This is a great opportunity to take a non–standard look at familiar objects and the world around them – for example, paintings made of toothpick shadows and other objects made of discarded material in the shadow art format.
Address: Bolshaya Konyushennaya str., 5A