Abaydulova A. Peter Simon Pallas and the Academic Kunstkamera’s Cabinet of Natural History in the Last Third of Eighteenth Century: On the Occasion of the Scientist’s 280th Anniversary

Anna Abaydulova
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
E-mail: abaidulova@kunstkamera.ru

 

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ABSTRACT. The paper describes the contribution of academician P. S. Pallas (1741–1811) to collecting, conserving, organizing, and studying of the zoological collections of the Cabinet of Natural History of the Kunstkamera. In 1767, Pallas was commissioned by the Academy of Sciences to take care of the zoological collections of the academic museum. As the leader of the academic “physical” expedition in 1768–1774, Pallas had collected extensive natural science collections that transformed the Cabinet of Natural History and completed it with Russian specimens belonging to “the three kingdoms of nature”. However, Pallas was not just one of the collectors who replenished the Kunstkamera museum. He became a true scientific curator of the Kunstkamera zoological collections and the author of scientific descriptions of the collected objects. The zoological collections of the Kunstkamera shaped Pallas’s research and formed the basis for his Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica as the first summary description of the fauna of the Russian Empire. Pallas participated in the renovation of the Cabinet of Natural History display, a description of which was published in 1776 by I. G. Backmeister. He also participated in museum work aimed at conservation of the academic natural science collections. The scientist’s effort was an important development factor for the Cabinet of Natural History of the Kunstkamera in the last third of the eighteenth century. The eighteenth-century collections, including Pallas’s acquisitions, have not lost their scientific value until now, and their attribution is a significant component of the Cabinet of Natural History reconstruction. The paper provides the first publication of a Russian translation of Pallas’s article containing a description of the wet specimens sealing method he invented.

 

KEYWORDS: Pallas, Kunstkamera, Cabinet of Natural History, natural science collections, museum collections, St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, history of Kunstkamera, museum studies, history of science

 

DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2021-4(14)-222-234
УДК 069.01+069.5

 

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