The State Historical Museum is the only museum in the country which has a specialised division for storage and of cartographic objects. Founded in 1919 the Department houses a collection of over 42 000 pieces and includes an array of cartographic works dating from the 16th-20th centuries. Among the names of the prominent collectors whose collections are included in the Department corpus of objects there are A.D. Chertkov, P.Y. Dashkov, I.E. Zabelin, A.P. Bakhrushin and P.I. Shchukin.
The 16th-17th centuries are mainly presented by engraved West-European maps and Atlases. The most renowned of them are the maps of Muscovy by S. Herberstein, Jenkinson, brothers L. and Y. Deutecum and H. Guerreets, the map 1598 of polar areas by B. Barents, and especially giant copper globe of the mid-17th century manufactured in the Dutch Blaeu Workshop.
In the collection of the 18th century a special place belongs to Russian handwritten maps and combined atlases of handwritten maps. There are also reports of geographic expeditions (including the data collected by the B. Bering expedition), departmental maps and plans, ordnance survey data, handwritten atlases of regions ruled by governors and city plans.
The collection of the 19th century is worth attention because of its Russian printed maps and atlas editions (by the Military-Topographic Depot, the first Russian private special “A. Ilyin’s Cartographic Institution”, etc.).
In the collection of the 20th century there is a comprehensive resource pack on the main events of the Russian and world history of the earlier half of the century (e.g. the map of “European Russia under the Brest Treaty”, 1918).