On February 12th (old style) in year1889 an important event in Krasnoyarsk cultural life happened. The city was celebrating the Krasnoyarsk museum opening, which was initiated by two members of the local intelligentsia: Innokentiy Alekseyevich and Yulia Petrovna, the Matveyevs. Items of their family collection, including ones of art, numismatics and ethnography were transferred to museum and gave start to its collections. Picture "Kind Samaritan" by V.I. Surikov, presented to the initiator of the museum by the artist was one of the first exhibits.
Money and collections donated by individuals along with compassion of the authorities created warm conditions for this new educational institute, helped to intensify the collection enlargements and growth of the social prestige of the museum. Already in 1892 (only 3 years after initiation) the museum was showing its collections of bone and minerals at the International Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology Congress in Moscow.
The museum suffered a hard period of its existence in 1892-1903. The society lost its interest in museums and it lacked financial aid as well. It gained its stability again when the city social government transferred the museum into the Krasnoyarsk branch of the East-Siberian department of the Russian Geography Association. The museum stayed under its jurisdiction since 1903 till 1920. That was a period of the museum scientific renaissance. A cascade of scientific expeditions from Dixon to Tuva, successful publishing, scientific study of the ethnographical, archaeological, natural collections in which those expeditions resulted - those were the main museum activity tendencies of that period.
The golden base of the museum was its personnel scientific potential. A pleiad of brilliant scientists, researchers and students of local lore such as
P. Proskuryakov - the first conservator (director) of the museum; A. Tugarinov- permanent head of the museum since 1905 till 1926, ornithologist, later a Doctor of Biology; A. Yelenev - student of local lore, archaeologist, teachers seminary director; M. Kibort - museum conservator since 1893 till 1903, ornithologist, taxidermist of high class; G. Mergart - one of the most famous Austrian archaeologists, specialist in prehistorical archaeology, who later worked at the largest museums of Germany; A. Yavorsky - mycologist, the first director of the national park "Stolby", student of local lore; M. Krasnozhyonova - a well-known ethnographer, folklorist and G. Miklashevskaya - botanist had been working there during the first 25 years.
In 1911 the museum took part in the first West-Siberian exhibition of agriculture and industry in Omsk where its best collections were demonstrated successfully. Krasnoyarsk museum was awarded the highest prize - Honorary Diploma and its director A. Tugarinov - a Golden Medal.
Soon a need for a specialized building arose due to the swift growth of the collections and lack of expositional quarters and storage facilities. In 1913-1914 construction of the new building started. It was done gratis according to the project and supervision of L. Chernyshyov, well-known Krasnoyarsk artist and architect. It was his present to his home-city. As the World War I began the building being yet unfinished was surrendered for the military barracks and later, for the hospital; then it was destroyed by fire in 1920, but L. Chernyshyov relentlessly worked on the museum restoration in years 1920-1929.
And only in year 1930 the museum could open its doors in its own new home to greet the citizens of Krasnoyarsk. The unique building of the museum is one of the kinds throughout all Russia. It reminds of the unified cultural space of the World civilization and symbolizes meeting of Siberia and Ancient Egypt cultures, which seems to have so little in common.
Along the path of its development the regional museum keeps up to the traditions of scientific research work. The museum has done a lot for studying historical and cultural heritage of the region. Well-known archaeologists such as V. Gromov, N. Auerbach, G. Sosnovsky, R. Nicolayev (candidate of historical studies), professors A. Tugarinov and B. Dolgich (an exceptional soviet ethnographer, author of many works upon history and ethnography of Siberian nationalities), N. Drozdov (now Rector of the Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University) have been working in the museum. The results of scientific research have been published in numerous anthologies, monographs and other scientific publications.
Scientific library of the museum is coeval with the museum itself. Year 1921 was an important point in the history of the library development. That time the whole archive of the Yeniseysk Province Central Archive became its part. The archive also included libraries of ex-zemstvo government of the province, of the Krasnoyarsk theological college, diocesan school, common assembly etc.
According to the museum library thesis it was to receive all printed production published within Yeniseysk province borders and all hand-written and printed material devoted to descriptions and studies of the province including books, booklets, newspapers, posters and flyers as well. There was no other library in Krasnoyarsk receiving such amounts of editions. By year 1923 it already had up to 80 thousands of books, 12 thousands of them being rarities.
There are many books in English, French, German languages in the library archive. A large number of them were issued before year 1917. A part of Yudin collection, "Yeniseysky Almanach" dated year 1828, "Yeniseysk Province Notes" dated year 1831, local periodicals such as "Yeniseyskie Gubernskie Vedomosti" and "Memorial Books of Yeniseysk Province" etc. are included in the library archive.
The archive has formed a basement of the main regional scientific library, it is widely used by scientists, students and pupils to study nature conditions, history and culture of the region. The basic role of the library for museum research, exhibition, and expositional, educational activities should be noted here.
After Soviet restoration in year 1920 the city museum received a importance of the museum of province - the museum of Priyeniseysk region.
In the 30-es of the XX cent. the museum continued active expositional and exhibition work, systematizing collections. Expositions of that period had the time influence imprinted in them: history was revealed under the official ideology pressure, quite unfairly and biased. Due to creation of the Krasnoyarsk region the museum has received a regional importance.
In the years of the World War II the museum was in the state of conservation. Expositions were packed in the shortest time possible and the building was handed over to the "Main-Northern-Pass" organizations. Main direction of the museum work of that period was towards mass-explanatory work, organization of exhibitions on wheels upon patriotic topics, which were presented in hospitals, agitation centers and political cabinets.
In year 1945 expositions of departments of nature, history and ethnography were reconstructed. The museum received its first post-war visitors on November 6th, year 1945. Exposition devoted to the Great Patriotic War was opened at the first anniversary of the Victory Day (May 9th, year 1946)
Due to the archive potential the museum was able to create local lore, history and economy expositions already by the 50-es. Popularity and importance of the Krasnoyarsk museum grew as well. The museum was a participant, diploma receiver and winner of EANE at that period.
In the 60-70-es expositions were rebuilt, added up, still being ideologized and one-sided in showing the region history.
In the 80-es the museum became the head-regional museum of Eastern Siberia.
Drastic changes in social and political life of the society in the end of 80-es, beginning of the 90-es, renewal of cultural and religious situation demanded new approaches; critical reviewing of the historical process; looking from another point of view upon information, collected by the museum; development of new tendencies in communication with the museum.
During its more then century long history the museum took part in regional, All-Russian and International exhibitions several times. Doing that the museum continued to win and receive diplomas of the exhibitions, being a worthy representative of the region.
Now the museum keeps up to that tradition. So, the museum took part in sale-exhibition "Russia Regions '99" (Moscow), in International Tourist sale-exhibitions "Yenisey '99", "Yenisey '01" (Krasnoyarsk). At the IV Krasnoyarsk International Museum Biennial (year 2001) Regional Museum of Local Lore posed as one of the participants of the Russia-Norway project "From Nansen's Point of View", devoted to scientist, traveler, a great humanist F. Nansen. The museum collections rise a big interest abroad. The museum presented collection of arts in Japan and the exhibition "Shamanism in Priyenisey region" was a success in Belgium and Austria.
Successful publication of the museum collections in regional and international actions verifies high social qualities of the museum, the one being an ID-card of the city, region, Siberia in a way.
Numerous museum collections acted as basements for initiation of such cultural establishments of the city and region as Regional Scientific Library (year 1935), Surikov Memorial House (year 1948), Surikov Arts Museum (year 1957).