Table of content
» Introduction » 2: Kalashnikov's family » 6: AK-74 / AK-100 / Saiga » 10: A study of Kalashnikov Vodka
» 1a: About The Kalashnikov Museum » 3: Kalashnikov: years 1933 - 1942 » 7: The Hall of Fame: Part I » 11: What's coming in the next version
» 1b: Izhevsk, Kalashnikov's homecity » 4: Kalashnikov's design career begins » 8: The Hall of Fame: Part II » Copyright
» 1c: Entering the Kalashnikov Museum » 5: The AK-47 is born » 9: The 2nd hall of the exhibition    Back to main page of ak47-guide.com


About the Kalashnikov Museum

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The Kalashnikov Weapons Museum and Exhibition Center was opened in the city of Izhevsk, Russia on November 4, 2004

The Kalashnikov Weapons Museum and Exhibition Center was opened in the city of Izhevsk, Russia on November 4, 2004 - one week prior to Mikhail Kalashnikov's 85th birthday.

The construction of the museum began back in 1996, but was suspended due to insufficient funding. During a visit to Izhevsk in 2003, the CEO of RAO "UES of Russia", Anatoly Chubais, had meetings with Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Udmurt Republic authorities, and potential investors.

As a result of this visit, a funding schedule was established for the project in order that the museum and exhibition center could be opened before the designer's birthday. 
Right to left: Alexander Volkov, President of Udmurt Republic; Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47; Anatoly Chubais, (CEO of Russian Joint Energy Systems RAO UES of Russia); and, Yuri Pitkevich, Prime Minister of Udmurt Republic.

The budget of the project exceeded US$8,000,000 - among the sponsors were the Governments of Izhevsk, the Udmurt Republic, and Moscow, RAO "UES of Russia", Rosvooruzhenie, companies from Russia, Belarus, Hungary, Germany and many others.

The museum is located in the central square of Izhevsk. The total area for the 3 exhibition halls is over 400 square meters.

The Russian press commented that "Kalashnikov had received a most expensive gift, and had become the "wealthiest" Russian", but Kalashnikov, being a man of tact, always stresses that "this palace doesn't glorify me, it glorifies the gunsmiths of Izhevsk". 
he official opening of the Museum. Center: The famous designer of the AK-47, Mikhail Kalashnikov, (to the right) Alexander Volkov, President of Udmurt Republic; (to the left) Anatoly Chubais, the Chairman of the Management Board of RAO UES of Russia; and, Yuri Pitkevich, Prime Minister of Udmurt Republic. (Image credit: Official Web site of Udmurt Republic)

As for "…the most expensive gift" - there was another gift made on the day the museum opened. This is a gift that Kalashnikov "just couldn't believe", a gift that for Kalashnikov overshadowed even having a museum in his name - read on to find out what this was.

To this day, this is the only museum in Russia devoted to a small arms designer. The displays in the museum present the life and work of Mikhail Kalashnikov, and feature examples of the weapons designed by him.

 


 Kalashnikov eagerly listens to what the guide has to say. Left to right: Alexander Volkov, President of Udmurt Republic; Victor Balakin, Mayor of Izhevsk; Anatoly Chubais, CEO of RAO

The designer himself has donated to the museum photos, archives, memoirs, video materials, numerous certificates of merit and awards, and his own collection of edged weapons. At present, the museum's collection contains about 5,000 items.

However, this is not just one more weapons museum - on the contrary, visitors become acquainted with a lively, intelligent and sensitive person. There are plenty of household items on display, and voice of Mikhail Kalashnikov follows you throughout the exhibition.

The Museum & Exhibition Center is a product of a broad collaboration: the unique building was designed by a group of Izhevsk architects led by Petr Fomin, the exhibition scenarios are the work of the Museum Design Lab (a subsidiary of the Russian Institute for the Study of Culture); the unique reconstruction of living quarters and other elements of interior design are the brainchild of the Ekaterinburg based "Studio Artefactum".

There is a definite concept around which the exhibition is planned, and there is a real message to be conveyed. While preparing this guide, we studied a large number of publications on the subject of Museum of Kalashnikov.

However, being fully aware now of the concept of the museum and exactly how the exhibition is organized, we decided not merely to explain the official version in greater detail, because we do not want to spoil the experience when visitors actually visit the exhibition and get a very special first impression.

Rather, we hope that our illustrated guide will provide enough background material for you to form your very own opinion and feelings. Please share your opinions with us - your comments are always welcome!

Images:
Pic.1-2: Right to left: Alexander Volkov, President of Udmurt Republic; Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47; Anatoly Chubais, (CEO of Russian Joint Energy Systems RAO "UES of Russia"); and, Yuri Pitkevich, Prime Minister of Udmurt Republic. (Image credit: Web site of RAO "UES of Russia")

Pic.1-3: The official opening of the Museum. Center: The famous designer of the AK-47, Mikhail Kalashnikov, (to the right) Alexander Volkov, President of Udmurt Republic; (to the left) Anatoly Chubais, the Chairman of the Management Board of RAO "UES of Russia"; and, Yuri Pitkevich, Prime Minister of Udmurt Republic. (Image credit: Official Web site of Udmurt Republic)

Pic.1-4: Kalashnikov eagerly listens to what the guide has to say. Left to right: Alexander Volkov, President of Udmurt Republic; Victor Balakin, Mayor of Izhevsk; Anatoly Chubais, CEO of RAO "UES of Russia"; and, Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47. (Image credit: Web site of RAO "UES of Russia")

It can be seen clearly in the photos that the orientation of the hallway passing through the museum was carefully designed: the rear entrance looks out upon the Opera & Ballet Theater, while the main entrance looks out on the St. Mikhail Cathedral (currently under construction), and is surrounded by birches.


  View of the Opera & Ballet
Theater from inside the rear entrance
Pic.1-5 View of the Opera & Ballet
Theater from inside the rear entrance



 Museum of Kalashnikov. Opera & Ballet Theater is visible against the background
Pic.1-6 Opera & Ballet Theater
is visible against the background



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Pic.1-7 View of the St. Mikhail
Cathedral, yet to be built



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Pic.1-8 Drawing of how the
Cathedral St. Mikhail will look



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Pic.1-9 The St. Mikhail Cathedral
construction area. Domes of
Maiden of Kazan Church are
visible against the background.
Temporary belfry is behind the
billboard.



 Click to enlarge the picture
Pic.1-10 Construction area billboard

Ballet, birches, churches and AK-47s: all famous symbols of Russia gathered together in one place - a quintessence of the true Russia.

Our guess is that the architect had in mind a "temple theme", although we failed to see any mention of this in the press. A few other elements might confirm this guess: the arch of the open passage hall to the main entrance of the Kalashnikov Museum resembles the arch of the main entrance to the St. Mikhail Cathedral (see the drawing), and the central hall of the exhibition is designed in the so called "temple style".

 


 
Please note that the St. Mikhail Cathedral
wasn't named after Mikhail Kalashnikov!

The original temple construction was initiated back in 1893 by workers of the Izhevsk Arms Factory who had willingly been donating 1 kopeck from each ruble of their annual wages toward this purpose. 
Pic.1-11
Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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Pic.1-12
St. Basil's Cathedral

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 The original temple (later transformed to a cathedral) was designed in a style similar to the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed in Moscow, or The Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in St. Petersburg.

Its main bell was cast from old cannons, and the reinforced bricks used in its construction had been pressure tested in labs of the Izhevsk Arms Factory. Seventeen copper crosses were also made at this factory; thus, the Izhevsk gunsmiths were closely involved with the project.

The building was finished in 1907 after 10 years of construction ... then later was ruined by the Bolsheviks in 1937. There was no better reason than the need for a source of building material - 882,780 of the cathedral's bricks were used to build the Medical College across the road from the Maiden of Kazan Church.

Images credit:
Pic.1-11: Wen-Hsiang Tsai, National Chiao Tung University (NCTU)
Pic.1-12: David Crawshaw, Wikipedia


Pic.1-13
Maiden of Kazan church, part of the soon to be built St. Mikhail Cathedral, southern elevation  

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Maiden of Kazan church, part of the soon to be built St. Mikhail cathedral, eastern porch

	Click to enlarge the picture

 Back in the year 2000, it was decided to recreate the St. Mikhail Cathedral within 5 years, and Maiden of Kazan Church, as part of the cathedral, was promptly built with generous financing from a local oil company.

As of February 2005, foundation of the main building has been finished.

 

Pic.1-15 The bell named in
honor of Mikhail Kalashnikov


 The bell named in 
honor of Mikhail Kalashnikov

 As a gift for Kalashnikov's 85th birthday, upon the request of the Izhevsk eparchy, the bell-makers of the city of Voronezh cast a 200 kilogram bell (approx. 400 lbs) which will be mounted on the St. Mikhail Cathedral, with the name of the famous small arms designer embossed on the bell.

Currently, this bell (along with 5 smaller ones) is mounted on a temporary belfry situated behind the billboard at the construction site, just in front of the Museum main entrance (see photos).

This bell was delivered to Izhevsk very late on the night of November 3, 2004. To be able to install it in time for the official opening of the Museum to be held on November 4th, people worked throughout the night.

This was all a complete surprise to the designer. When Mikhail Kalashnikov first saw the bell late the night of November 3rd - not yet mounted, just resting on the ground - he was overwhelmed with emotions, and was deeply touched.

"Father Victor", Kalashnikov addressed dean of the Maiden of Kazan Church who introduced the gift, "this unbelievable birthday gift you made...I just can't believe that I'm honored with such a monument to my achievements while I'm still alive. It's hard to imagine that this bell which displays my name will ring forever...it's...it's like having immortality". 
Pic.1-16 : The temporary belfry just opposite the Kalashnikov Museum main entrance.

	Click to enlarge the picture

It seemed that for Kalashnikov, that day the bell overshadowed the museum itself. In our humble opinion, the museum wasn't a novelty for him any more; he had grown accustomed to it during the 8 long years when the project was under construction, while the bell caused an incredible and immediate impact.

It adds nicely to the "temple theme" of the Museum, doesn't it?

Now that you've learned a few facts about the museum, let's go visit it - hopefully, the introduction wasn't too lengthy and you haven't gotten bored with the museum yet. There is still so much to see.