Exploration and development of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands by Russia in the period from the mid XVII century to the ÕIX century is one of the most interesting pages in the history of this region. Museum collection devoted to it starts with a map of the Far-East showing routes of travels and expeditions made by the first Russian explorers. Owing to travels by Ivan Moskvitin, Vasily Poyarkov, Vladimir and other trappers explorers Russia learnt about existence of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands.
Visitors can see copies of maps and documents connected with the first travels by the Russian trappers and sea-farers towards sunrise i.e. to the eastern bounds of Russia. Among them there is a copy of the earliest documents (1645) mentioning Sakhalin island and a copy of the earliest Russian picture of Sakhalin as a small island in the Amur river mouth (the mid XVII century). Based on the XVIII century’s Russian expeditions to the Kurile islands by Ivan Kozyrevsky (1713), Ivan Evreinov and Fyodor Luzhin (1720–1721), and Martin Shpanberg (1738–1739) detailed maps of the islands were drawn.
From the mid XVII century European and Japanese explorers started to take interest in the „Northern Lands“. In 1643 Dutch seaman Martin G. de Vries explored south-eastern part of Sakhalin and the southern Kurile islands. In 1787 French seaman Jean-Francois de La Perouse sailed past the shores of Sakhalin during his circumnavigation. In the XVIII–XIX centuries the islands were visited by the Japanese travellers and government officials such as: Ìîgami Òîêunai (1786, 1790), Mamiya Rinzo (1809–1810), and Matsuuro Takesiro (1846, 1856). The explorers drew detailed maps and pictures (sketches) showing life and household activities of indigenous peoples the copies of which are displayed in this Exhibit Hall.
In the process of exploration of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands Russian and foreign explorers encountered indigenous peoples. Displayed in one of the show cases are unique artifacts, such as earrings, bead necklace, tip of inlayed spear which were items of barter trade between indigenous peoples of Sakhalin, Amur river region and Hokkaido.
In 1799 the Russian American Company was established by the Emperor’s Pavel I Decree. Visitors can see set of objects found by the Sakhalin Regional Museum’s archaeologists in the course of the Russian American Company’s Russian settlements excavations on the Kurile islands conducted from 1981 through 1994.
Excavations of the settlements produced remnants of dwellings and household facilities, numerous implements and household items of peasants, craftsmen and marine mammal hunters giving evidence of material and spiritual culture of Russian settlers (about 10 thou. artifacts) and that of Aleutians brought to the Kurile islands from the main Russian-American Company areas as laborers.
The Russian American Company helped to organize the first Russian circumnavigational expedition under the command of captains such as: Ivan F. Kruzenshtern and Yuri F. Lisyansky on „Nadezhda“ and „Neva“ sailing ships in 1803–1806. In 1805 Nadezhda’s crew explored Aniva Bay and north-eastern shores of Sakhalin and the Kurile islands.
The Exhibit Hall presents copies of materials devoted to the N.P.Rezanov’s Russian diplomatic mission to Japan, voyage by N. A. Khvostov and G. I. Davydov to the Sakhalin shores and the southern Kuriles’ explorations by captain V. Ì. Golovnin.
In 1849, Gennady Nevelskoy explored north-western part of the Sea of Okhotsk and proved that the Amur river is navigable and that Sakhalin is an island.
Active participants of the Amur Expedition of 1851–1855 such as: Nikolai Boshnyak, Voin Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai Busse, Nikolai Rudanovsky and many others laid foundations for studying and development of the Amur river region and Sakhalin, and established first Russian military settlements outposts on the mainland and Sakhalin.
Displayed in appropriate showcases are models (mock-ups) of several marine vessels such as:
1. Model of koch (Russian northern seas’ sailing boat) on which Russian trail-blazers sailed along the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk.
2. Model of fune Japanese sailing ship. Using ships like that the santan-traders made voyages between Hokkaido and Sakhalin islands.
3. Model of Baikal cargo sailing ship on which voyage to the Sakhalin shores was performed under G. I. Nevelskoy.
4. Model of Pallada frigate, a ship used for first Russian diplomatic mission to Japan directed by E. V. Putyatin.
Visitors can see copies of treaties made between Russia and Japan. In 1855 the Shimoda Treaty was made. According to the Treaty the Kurile islands to the north of Iturup island were Russian and those situated to the south were Japanese, with Sakhalin becoming controlled by both countries. In accordance with the Sankt-Petersburg Treaty of 1875 Russia ceded the Kurile islands in her possession to Japan in exchange for control of the whole Sakhalin.
Collection is finished by the Russian Empire’s map showing changes of the Russian Far-Eastern borders in the period from the mid XVII century until the late XIX century and location of the Russian military outposts and settlements of Sakhalin founded in the XIX century.