The Kunstkamera was the first museum in Russia. Established by Peter the Great and completed in 1727, the Kunstkammer Building hosts the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, with a collection of almost 2,000,000 items. It is located on the Universitetskaya Embankment in Saint Petersburg, facing the Winter Palace.
In the 1830s, the Kunstkamera collections were dispersed to newly established imperial museums, the most important being the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, established in 1879. It has a collection approaching 2,000,000 items and has been known as the Peter the Great Museum since 1903 (in order to distinguish the older museum from the Russian Museum of Ethnography).
Originally there were separate museums for anthropology and ethnography, but on 5 December 1878 it was decided to merge them into a single museum with Leopold Schrenk being appointed on 10 November 1879. It was not until 1887 that the museum was finally provided with its own exhibition premises attached to Kunstkamera in Tamozhennyi pereulok. On 23 September 1889, the first exhibition of the unified Museum was opened.
One of the most gruesome exhibits is the head of Willem Mons, brother of Anna Mons. In 1747 some objects were lost in a fire. The museum houses 78 watercolours by the Peruvian artist Pancho Fierro, the largest collection outside Peru. These were brought back by Schrenk following his visit there in 1854.