07MOSCOW3732, MOSCOW’S SCIENCE MUSEUMS: EXPERIMENTING WITH SUCCESS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3732 2007-07-31 11:13 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6784
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHMO #3732/01 2121113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311113Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2504
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003732 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SCUL SENV TPHY TBIO RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW'S SCIENCE MUSEUMS: EXPERIMENTING WITH SUCCESS 
 
 
1.  SUMMARY: As Moscow increasingly becomes a tourist destination, 
science museums could play a role as second tier destinations, but 
funding and attracting visitors remain a challenge.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  Embassy EST intern recently visited many of Moscow's science 
museums. 
 
This Way to the Dinosaurs: Orlov Museum of Paleontology 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
3.  The Paleontology museum boasts the world's largest collection of 
Permian fossils which date from about 250-300 million years ago. 
Impressive in its size, the Paleontology museum is tucked away in 
the outer edges of Moscow.  The design of the building is friendly, 
expansive, and striking.  High ceilings echo the effect of giant 
skeletons of bygone animals.  Bas-relief tile frescoes adorn the 
walls and ceiling providing patrons a glimpse of the animals in 
their full form. 
 
4.  The deputy director spoke with us at length concerning the 
museum's future.  According to his records, approximately 100,000 
visitors tour the institution per year.  Every year the staff 
changes and reshapes some exhibits.  The museum has staged traveling 
exhibits to the United States, Puerto Rico, Japan, Europe, 
Australia, and elsewhere.  The museum is funded primarily (90%) 
through the Russian Academy of Sciences.  The city of Moscow pays an 
additional 10% for utilities and other operating expenses.  Ticket 
sales also contribute to the museum budget.  Drawing on kids' 
interest in dinosaurs and fossils, the museum sponsors lecture 
events, a Kids' Paleontology Table, excavation exercises, and art 
contests.  The number of visitors has increased over the past few 
years.  Many children visit the museum either with their parents or 
on a school field trip. 
 
Factories, Planes and Inventions: Polytechnical Museum 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
5.  The Moscow Polytechnical Museum gives visitors the opportunity 
to explore a variety of different scientific areas including space, 
photography, mining, flight, chemistry, electronics, robotics, and 
meteorology.  Built in 1877, the building is an outstanding example 
of Russian Revival architecture.  Scale models of factories, 
aircraft, and inventions adorn the museum's many rooms.  The 
original basket of the air-balloon used by Mendeleyev (organizer of 
the modern Periodic Table of the Elements) is on display in the 
museum.  The first nuclear bomb is represented.  Important 
industries within Russia are also showcased including steel 
production, chemical enterprises, and hydroelectric power plants.  A 
short summary of each item, in both Russian and English, is placed 
next to each exhibit.  Exhibits range from alternative energy 
resources to space food. 
 
Eco-Consciousness at Timiryazev State Museum of Biology 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
6.  Nestled in a quaint section of town near the U.S. Embassy, the 
State Museum of Biology showcases nature, experimentation, and 
development.  During the summer of 2007, the museum is focusing on 
the benefits of recycling.  For this exhibit, the museum partnered 
with the ecological program sponsored by the government of Moscow, 
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Cornell 
University.  On display are costumes that students have created from 
ordinary trash.  Informational material posted on the wall provides 
the decomposition times of particular items and landfill usage 
across the world.  Taxidermy animals are prominently displayed 
throughout the museum.  Models of mushroom varieties provide a 
glimpse into the traditional Russian pastime of mushroom hunting.  A 
disturbing but historically interesting exhibit includes details of 
the experiments done by Dr. Ivan Pavlov, the world-famous Nobel 
laureate and physiologist, on dogs.  While the museum lacks the 
interactive feel of those in the United States, an area devoted to 
human development features a painted ceiling reminiscent of a 
prehistoric cave painting.  Most of the museum's visitors are 
children on school outings. 
 
The Gems of the Moscow State University Geology Museum 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
7.  Moscow State University, located on the Vorobyov Hills, 
maintains its own collection of geological phenomena, which provide 
students unique opportunities to examine and complete research.  An 
impressive display covering five floors of the immense university 
includes samples from around the world.  Boasting a large collection 
of soils from various terrains, the geology museum contributes 
toward a better understanding of environmental climate change, as 
many of the soil samples were taken decades ago.  Rocks, ores, 
gemstones, and minerals from around the world sparkle in display 
cases.  Depictions of geological activity explain volcanic activity, 
meteor impacts, and deep sea beds.  Students studying geology and 
geography often attend lectures in a special auditorium within the 
 &#x0
00A;MOSCOW 00003732  002 OF 002 
 
 
museum.  The museum is not open to the public unless special 
arrangements are made.  All university students may enter the museum 
free of charge with their student identification card. 
 
Is it All Happening at the Moscow City Zoo? 
------------------------------------------- 
 
8.  Although not up to the standards of Western zoos, the Moscow 
City Zoo is wildly popular among Muscovite families with young 
children.  A large pond with swans, ducks, and other aquatic fowl is 
in the center of each of the zoo's two sections, while pens with 
land animals surround these ponds.  Compared with American zoos, the 
pens are smaller and less natural looking, though each animal's 
habitat appears sufficient.  While guidebooks and expats warn that 
the zoo is shabby by Western standards, gradual improvements are 
being made.  A special section for young children contains pens with 
farm animals, a playground, and a few small amusement park rides.  A 
new "exoterium" building houses exotic reptiles, fish and insects, 
and can be entered for an additional fee on top of the general zoo 
admission. 
 
9.  COMMENT:  Moscow's scientific treasures are not as well known to 
tourists as the city's historical and art collections.  Colorful and 
interactive displays to entertain and educate children have not yet 
penetrated the dour museum atmosphere.  For Westerners accustomed to 
lights, sounds, and hands-on museum experiences, the quiet 
atmosphere of Moscow's science museums could feel subdued and 
old-fashioned.  Despite their potential, these museums will likely 
remain underappreciated until they upgrade their displays and adopt 
coherent marketing strategies. 
 
RUSSELL

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