The Donetsk Regional Museum was established by a group of passionate in 1924. Its creators were a geographer, Alexander Olshankhenko, a group of students of Technical College of Mining and persons who used to collect numismatics, minerals and other specimens related to the city and the territory of the industrial region. In 1927, the number of items gathered in the Stalino Regional Museum, including photos, documents and other related to the industrial production and the development of mining technologies, reached already 2,000.
In the 1930s, the institution initiated scientific activity and research. In Stalino, of which name is Donetsk nowadays, in the location where the central hospital was built later, N. Makarenko conducted an exploration of a group of kurgans. In 1935, during the surface examination, W. Ievsieev discovered an Upper Palaeolithic camp site in the Kazionna Valley. The next stage was an archaeological research on a unique palaeolithic excavation site Ambrosivka. As a result of the undertaken expeditions, the collection was enriched by monuments of archaeology, new collections of minerals from the region of Donetsk and the specimens of fauna and flora, appearing in the steppe and forest steppe.
During the period of the Great Patriotic War, the Museum in Donetsk was integrated with the one in Mariupol. In consequence of the military actions, the effort to evacuate the collection was undertaken – unfortunately, it has been partly dispersed or destroyed.
After the liberation of Donbas in 1944, the Museum resumed its activities, having just 1,000 specimens, which were only documents and photos. The new exhibits presented the actual political and economical tendencies of the region. It was also history that was emphasised, so the exhibits were meant to show the cruelty of war and the heroism of the people, of the region of Donetsk. In 1950, the Museum's collection was enriched by a unique archaeological artefact – an anthropomorphic Scythian statue, found in Olhovkhik. That statue, called „The Golden Scythians”, became the symbol of the Museum of Donetsk.
In the 50s, the original, pre-war profile of the Museum, focused on local geography and culture, was restored. The archaeological specimens, including the items coming from excavations on multi-cultural sites based on camp sites, hill forts, settlements and cemeteries and kurgans, from the Museum in Mariupol were transported to Donetsk. The Museum also organized unique ethnographic exhibits, focused on the Greeks of Azov and also the expositions related with the history of the industrialization of Donbas, the founding of the city, the Great Patriotic War and an exhibit based on M. Pavlov's materials, which concerned the stay of D. Mendeleev in Donbas. In 1955, the collection included 8,952 specimens. The natural history department was open in the late 50s.
In the 60s, the collection has been extended to 50,000 of items. In 1961, the city of Stalino was renamed to Donetsk and by consequence, the name of the Museum was changed to Donetsk Regional Museum of the Donetsk Regional Department of Culture, which is the actual name. In 1972, the Museum was moved to the building on Chaluskintsev Street, where it is based until now.
In the 70s and the 80s, a series of new exhibits, related to the department of natural history, geology, history, ethnography and archaeology. In the 90s, the Museum extended its offer, by organizing festivals, dedicated to the culture of the nations inhabiting the East Ukraine, by creating its own series of publications „Chronicle of Donbas” and by organizing meetings with the veterans of the Great Patriotic War.
During the last years, the Museum conducted an intense scientific and research activity in archaeology. Now, each season brings new discoveries and the results are published by the scientific staff of the Museum in its own periodical, „The Almanac of Archaeology”. In the last few years, the Museum engaged, as well, in rescue research in the terrains which are currently developed of the local authorities and foreign investors. In consideration of fast transformation of policy, economy and law, which progresses in East Ukraine, 8000 archaeological sites were included in the protection system. The Museum co-operates with other scientific centres of Ukraine (Crimea, Kiev), as well as research institutions in Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg), Belgium (Liege, Brussels), the United States of America (Montana) and Poland (Kraków). Furthermore, the Museum organizes National and International Conferences of Archaeology. The publishing activities, except those enumerated hitherto, include prestigious albums, catalogues, folders, postcards and special publications that are related to temporal exhibits.
The Museum has won several rewards and prizes for contribution to the development of local culture.
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