Founded by Peter the Great in 1714 Kunstkamera was an attempt to dignify his fascination for curiosities and freaks of nature. The centerpiece of the collection were 2000 preparations by the Dutch anatomist Frederick Ruysch and an ethnographic “chamber of wonders” also purchased in Holland. Even now you can see on display the skeleton of Peter the Great’s favorite giant Bourgeous plus surgical and dental instruments and teeth pulled by the tsar himself, a keen amateur dentist, who kept records of his victims.
The rest of Kunstkamera is taken by Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography displaying everything from Balinese puppets to Inuit kayaks and including some lovely diagrams of native village life. You will also see the Great Academic Globe – spectators sit inside the globe, which rotates on its axis, causing the planet and stars painted on the inner surface to revolve.
Kunstkamera is strangest museums in the world and one of the lesser-known but superbly fascinating attractions in St Petersburg.