The museum collection is grouped into fourteen Departments that
study, exhibit, and care for the museum objects.
The Museum’s collection of archaeological monuments of Eurasia peoples includes
1.5 million articles of various materials (stone, ivory, clay, bronze, iron, gold and silver); it represents diverse historical periods and cultural traditions from the early Stone Age to the Middle Ages.
The Museum’s collection of precious metals – more than thirty thousand articles dating over fifteen centuries – represents masterpieces of Russian, West European and Oriental jewelry of such materials as gold, silver and precious stones. A group of unique devotional art articles of Old Russian culture dating between 17th and early 18 century is of peculiar interest.
Manuscripts and Early Printed Books
The Museum’s collection comprises about thirty thousand manuscripts, early printed books and charters; it includes world-famous monuments of Slavonic, Russian and Greek literature and scholarship such as Greek Khludov Psalter made in the middle of the 9th century, Mstislav Gospel dated to the early 12th century, Great Menology of Metropolitan Macarius, three volumes of Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan the Terrible, Novgorod birchbark letters.
Old Russian painting
The Museum’s collection of icon-painting comprises more than five thousand icons and about twenty thousand tracings (iconic sample sheets); it represents all icon schools of Old Russia (Novgorod, Pskov, Moscow), and icon painting of Russian North and other provinces dating between 14th and 20th century.
The Museum’s collection of written sources includes 15 million sheets of documentary material raging date from the 17th to the 20th century: personal files, manuscripts of scientific and literature writings, charters, jubilee addresses, letters, orders, decrees, autographs of eminent Russian and European public figures, scholars and writers.
The Museum’s collection of cartography comprises more than forty two thousand museum objects – maps, drafts, atlases, globes. This is one of the largest collections of vintage and old maps in Russia. The collection includes West European engraved maps and atlases dating between 16th and 17th century, Russian engraved and manuscript maps and atlases dating to the 18th century, and maps of the Soviet period.
The Museum’s collection of fine arts comprises about five hundred thousand works including paintings, water-colours, pastels, drawings, miniature portraits, prints, engravings, and daguerreotypes, portraits in silhouette, photographs, portrait sculptures, and posters. In the collection there are works both by eminent and little-known artistes. The iconographic genre of portrait is dominant. The Museum houses portraits of almost all famous statesmen between 15th and 20th century including tsar familiars, noblemen, clergy, peasants, and merchants. Collection of architectural drawings represents views of Moscow, Russian towns and country estates.
The Museum’s collection of numismatics comprises 1.7 million items including antique, oriental and western coins, and also medals and orders of Russian state and other countries. An honour to the Museum is its hoards of coins.
Arms and Armor
The Museum’s collection of arms and armor comprises approximately twenty thousand objects, of which more than seven thousand are West European, about four thousand are Russian, more than three thousand are Oriental including Turkish, Indian and Japonica collections. “Pearls” of the collection are broadsword belonged to the prince M. Skopin-Shuisky and saber of the prince Dmitry Pozharsky. As museum pieces are surely classified saber of emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and sea sword of Sweden king Karl XIV Johan.
Textiles and Costume History
World-famous Museum’s collection of about four hundred thousand textiles, costumes and accessories represents Oriental, West European and Russian fabrics from 12th century to the present and regional costumes, peasant and urban dress, military uniforms from 15th century to the present. The collection includes also wonderful works of holy embroidery, tapestries, carpets, bone and ivory-carrying handicrafts and leather goods.
Metals and Modern Syntactic Materials
The Museum’s collection of metals and modern syntactic materials comprises more than fifty thousand metal artworks: Russian pewter, bronzes of the 19th century, Ural copperware of the 18th century, articles made of bead and bugles, clocks and watches, enamels and cast iron articles.
Woodworks and Furniture
The Museum’s collection of woodworks and furniture comprises thirty five thousand articles dating between 16th and early 20th century and representing devotional art (orthodox sculpture, carved icons and crosses) and objects of church interiors, folk art and everyday objects (chests, baskets, caskets, woodenware, toys etc.), and one of the most extensive national collection of furniture that includes incomparable collection of furniture from Russian country estates and Art Nouveau collection – the best one in Russia because of its diversity and famous authors of furniture designs.
Glassware and Ceramics
The Museum’s collection of glassware and ceramics comprises thirty six thousand objects. The strengths of the collection include Russian and West European porcelain fabricated between 18th and 20th century, unique Gzhel porcelain and majolica of the18th and 19th century, unrivalled glassware, and nine thousand tiles.
Library is an integral part of the Museum. It comprises over 200 thousand volumes of first-rate editions on archeology, Russian and foreign history, religion, philosophy, ethnography, Russian and foreign arts, secondary historical disciplines, linguistics and literary studies. The best part of the collection consists of books in European languages. The most valuable editions (incunabulae, West-European editions of the 15th – 19th centuries, books published in Russia in the 18th century, editions of the 19th – 20th centuries etc.) compose a collection of rare books. Many books belonged to famous workers of science and culture and have their bookplates, owner’s inscriptions and notes.