THE MUSEUM OF THE UNIVERSITY HISTORY

The Museum of the University History is its integral part. The educational museum was founded alongside with the establishment of the College of Civil Engineers in 1832; it had been developing through the years of the Civil Engineering College (1842-1851) and had rightfully merged with the structure of the Institute of Civil Engineers (1882) (see University History).

The university history is connected with the names of writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and his brothers. The famous writer lived for a time in the house of the merchant Palibin at Tretya Krasnoarmeiskaya ulitsa. At this venue a new university building was constructed. During the construction works, a partial front of the merchant’s house was preserved (four windows of a two-storeyed buildings). In December 1995 on the threshold of 170 year anniversary of the university the memorial tablet with the inscription on it was opened:

«Originally there was a tenement house, in which Fyodor Dostoeyvsky lived from March, 1861 until September, 1861
and worked over the novels The House of the Dead and Humiliated and Insulted.»

Dostoeyvsky’s brothers – Andrey and Nikolay – graduated from the Civil Engineering Instutute. Nikolay Dostoevsky studied there from 1848 until 1854. Andrey Dostoevsky  - from 1842 - 1848.

The Museum was located on the second floor of the main building of the Institute on Tsarskoselsky (now Moskovsky) Prospekt. The curator of the Museum was appointed by the Ministry of Interior Affairs upon the recommendation of the Director of the College (of the Institute, after 1882) and was responsible for preservation of the museum collection “in its entirety and good condition”. The Museum included Physical, Mineralogical, and Geodesic Cabinets and a Cabinet of Graphic Arts; it was, first of all, an educational department where students could come and get to know the rich collection of models, samples, mechanisms and instruments, which the collections of the Institute’ engineering school comprised.

The museum fund was also composed at the account of the graphic items, systematically complemented by new students’ works. The best graduate graphic works were composed in albums published by the Institute in 1904-1916 and used in the educational process.

By 1941, the museum collection accounted of many hundred items but an explosive bomb that hit the building where the museum was located destroyed all the five floors of the building and demolished practically the entire collection. Nevertheless, the museum was re-established after the war, now already under the auspices of Leningrad Institute of Civil Engineers (LISI, see University History). At first, this was just an exhibition dedicated to the heroism of LISI collective during the war opened in April 1970. It gave a start to the new museum, now a historical rather than educational one. The present exposition was composed on the eve of celebration of the 175th birthday of the institution, now already SPbGASU, in 2007.

At present, the exposition is based on the authentic fund of documents, photos, architectural projects, and memorial items from the history of the college – institute – university. Those include true rarities, like the heavy press-gilded leather Graduation Albums of the Imperial Institute of Civil Engineers. The museum space includes two interiors: parts of the Director’s Office and an architectural workshop. These are collective visions but they reproduce the atmosphere of the school and the creative educational process in it.

Creativity of civil engineers is, first of all, shown through the architectural design: it starts with the survived design projects from the funds of the old museum and runs through presentation of the teachers and students’ design works of the Soviet period, Perestroika and the post-Perestroika times. All projects have addresses on the map of our city, the unique urban phenomenon of which had been to a big extent composed by creativity of two architectural and civil engineering schools: the Academy of Arts and the Institute of Civil Engineers. These schools competed and complemented each other at the same time; together, they managed to create the inimitable image of our city of St. Petersburg.

The museum pointedly tells the story of the university, the long way from a College of Civil Engineers with few tens of students and up to the leading university, training thousands specialists not only in civil engineering per say but various related spheres: construction of bridges and tunnels, road construction, urban development and beautification.

The school of civil engineers was started, as many other things in St. Petersburg, under a specific plan: in the 1830s, the Russian Government made an attempt to establish several engineering educational institutions that would be training engineers and intelligent urban and architecture officials, who were expected to be capable of urban management and development. The program was absolutely unique for that time. Even a special article was introduced in the pre-revolutionary civil engineering charters allowing hiring as city and provinces’ architects only graduates of Institute of Civil Engineers (IGI) and, partly, Institute of Communication Roads Engineers (IIPS). IGI graduates were not just civil engineers or architects; they were specialists in the entire spectrum of urban development, including, besides construction and architecture, such aspects as zoning of the city territory, placement of enterprises, water supply and canalization, urban beautification and park zone development, and many other things. This complex approach distincted graduates of IGI from their counterparts from the Academy of Arts, who were artistic architects.

The architectural and civil engineering school of IGI got to be on a particular demand in the late 1870s, during the rise of industrial construction and availability of new constructional materials and structures of metal and reinforced concrete: each fourth building in our city was built under the design of civil engineers, and this was over 2000 buildings erected within just a few decades.

Since 1876, due to the significant increase of the number of students, designing of a new institute building started. Today, this is the main building of the University on the 2ya Krasnoarmeiskaya Street, where the present Museum is located. Its collection presents the materials of the University history, our famous school, which has changed its name quite a few times but had always preserved its mission of training civil engineers for our country.

The museum collection has lots of interesting materials, e.g., about the establishment of the Society of Civil Engineers in 1894. Established for the “comradely assistance to civil engineers working in various provinces,” it also helped solving scientific, engineering, and public tasks.

The higher school of civil engineers kept developing; new generations of students and teachers were coming. Replacing students of noble birth, absolutely new people were coming to study: they behaved differently, and wore not the elegant student uniform but, quite frequently, soldier's coats and sailor jackets. This all is shown in the museum credibly and descriptively.

Quite a lot of museum materials tell about the institute’s history during World War II: evacuation, coming back to the hometown right after the lifting, hard work of the employees in the city beleaguered by the enemy, heroic exploits of students and staff. The museum displays a copy of the announcement of student enrollment for the 1943-44 academic year along with other items telling about those who taught and studied in the years of hardships.

You can also see here quite an unusual page of the institute’s story: in the late 1930s, at the account of voluntary donations of students, teachers, and staff of LIGI, a combat aircraft was built and passed to the Red Army for servicing.

The Museum speaks about the role of alumni, students, and teachers in restoration of their city and post-war construction development; it also shows their contribution to the architectural and urban development through the entire 20th century.

For example, Igor G. Yavein: a whole stand is dedicated to this prominent theoretician and practitioner of transport architecture, Doctor of Architecture, 1930 LIGI graduate. He had designed more than a hundred railway stations in various regions of Russia. You could very well have been in those, and here, at the museum, will get a chance to know about this author of revolutionary ideas in the sphere of railway stations construction and new architectural forms.

Another unique architect, artist, and teacher, Lazar M. Khidekel, was born in Vitebsk. A student of Dobuzhinsky, Shagal, Malevich, together with them he was one of the organizers of UNOVIS, a group of artists who declared themselves “Champions of the New Art,” founded and led by Malevich. Khidekel arrived in Petrograd in 1922 with the “Malevich team” and enrolled with IGI. His exceptional background and influence of his teacher A.S. Nikolsky provided for the creation of unique buildings and his own school, told about in the museum exposition.

Alexander S. Nikolsky, Doctor of Architecture, Professor, world-known architect of the first half of the 20th century, had been teaching at IGI-LISI since 1915. Before the revolution, he got famous for his stunning designs of wooden houses and churches in the neo-Russian style. In the 1920s -1930s, he was the leader of architectural forefront, while the last 20 years of his life he dedicated to the development of a broad-scale project of the construction of Kirov Stadium and a recreational park on Krestovsky Island; this project has never been fully implemented but we can see it in the series of author’s drawings presented at the museum.

Pyotr I. Balinsky, 1887 IGI graduate, authored the project of St. Petersburg metro back in 1902! His colleagues of later years participated in the construction of such metro stations as Vladimirskaya, Ploshchad Vosstaniya, Avtovo, Nevsky Prospect, Admiraleiskaya, and many others. The museum will tell you about this too.

The University alumni have made a major contribution in the residential construction development in our city and beyond. In various years, they had been working in different genres: from private mansions in art-deco style to the commune house in Rubinstein Street; from Stalin Empire style to standardized construction of the 1960s, which allowed to move thousands of families into comfortable individual apartments. There is no way to list them all, but the museum did its best to illustrate the most significant and interesting.

And, last but not least, the institute’s alumni took the most active part in the development of the general construction plans of Leningrad, which not only had allowed to implement in real life numerous momentous projects in our city, but, to a big extent, up until now outline the urban development within the historical city borders of the 20th century.

             


Reservations for visiting the museum should be made by
phone: +7 812 575-94-54

Museum curator
Nadezhda A. Frolova
phone: +7 812 575-05-04




 

Faculties

  • Faculty of environmental engineering and municipal services
    Faculty of environmental engineering and municipal services
  • Faculty of automobile and road-building
    Faculty of automobile and road-building
  • Faculty of economics and management
    Faculty of economics and management
  • Faculty of architecture
    Faculty of architecture
  • Faculty of civil engineering
    Faculty of civil engineering
  • Faculty of forensic investigation and law in construction and transport
    Faculty of forensic investigation and law in construction and transport
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