Sakhalin Regional Museum is one of the oldest scientific, research and educational cultural institutions of the Sakhalin Oblast. During a long period of operation the museum had passed a hard and long way of formation and development and gradually it started to play a prominent role among humanitarian scientific centers of the Far East.
The history of the museum in many aspects went hand in hand with the XX century’s political history of Sakhalin. The Foundations and traditions of museology on the island were laid out and established more than 100 years ago. First museum of Sakhalin was opened in the Aleksandrovsky Post in 1896. Owing to the efforts of a scarce local educated society and those of penitentiary‘s administration ethnographic, archeological, geological, botanical, zoological and other collections were gathered. First Sakhalin museum is closely connected with such famous Russian ethnographers as L. Ya. Shternberg and B. O. Pilsudsky – convicts and exiles at that time and other persons who made possible contribution to studying of the nature and population of the island. Now only photographs, stored in different archives and publications of pre-revolutionary edition «Sakhalin Calendar», survived.
Upon signing of the Portsmouse Peace Treaty which put an end to the Russian-Japanese war of 1904−1905, Russia ceded southern Sakhalin to Japan and museum activities began to be conducted separately in both parts of the island. In 1932 the Regional museum after the 15th anniversary of the Great October Revolution opened in Aleksandrovsk, administrative center of the northern Sakhalin. It was stocked up with new collections on history of penal servitude and ethnography of indigenous people. In the years preceeding World War II A. N. Ryzhkov, a famous Sakhalin historian later, worked in the museum as a student of local lore. On southern Sakhalin a museum was also established during the Karafuto Governorate period (1905−1945). For the purpose of demonstration of the island’s natural history collections the Japanese authorities built a new museum building in 1932 owing to people’s donations. The building of the Karafuto Governorate’s Museum was constructed in the traditional style of «teican-dzukkuri» (imperial crown). It displayed ethnographical collections on the ingenious people of southern Sakhalin and those on paleontology, zoology and botanics. Names of such Japanese research scientists as Tiri Masikho, who specialized in Ainu studies, an ethnographer Yamamoto Tosio, botanist Sigedzo Sugavara and others are closely connected with the Karafuto museum. Museum staff published scientific collected volumes, articles and books. During Japanese occupation (in 1905 and 1920−1925) valuable collections on the ingenious people, paleontological artifacts and other exhibits were irreversibly lost under obscure circumstances. Part of collections was probably taken to Japan.
Upon completion of the World War II and liberation of the southern Sakhalin and the Kurile islands the Japanese museum in Toekhara was nationalized. Under the order of May 11, 1946 by D. Kryukov, a Chief of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Civil Administration, the Regional Museum was opened to visitors in the building of Japanese museum. For some period of time until repatriation of the Japanese citizen Soviet and Japanese museum employees worked together.
In 1947, the Sakhalin Oblast was established. A new stage in the history of the Sakhalin Regional Museum had begun. A small portion of nationalized Japanese collections was left in custody of the museum, but without explanatory information. In 1953, upon closure of the Aleksandrovsk city’s museum, all collections from there were transferred to the Sakhalin Regional Museum for permanent custody. Therefore, the Sakhalin Regional Museum became a successor and custodian of all the Sakhalin’s museum collections existing before in the insular region.
The Sakhalin Regional Museum has always played a priority role in the museological development of the Sakhalin Oblast as a scientific, methodological and organizational center. The Sakhalin Regional Museum brought about establishment of other museums on the territory of the Sakhalin Oblast. So, collections of paintings and graphics from the Museum served as a foundation for art collections of the Sakhalin Regional Art Museum, and the Chekhov’s Museum of Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinsky was created owing to active participation of the Sakhalin Regional Museum’s scientific employees in early 1990s.
In the mid 1980s a network of the Regional Museum’s branches started to form in different district of the Oblast. By the beginning of the year 2000, there were seven branches of the SRM in district centers, such as: Okha, Nogliki, Poronaisk, Kurilsk, Alexandrovsk-Sakhalinsky, Kholmsk and Yuzhno-Kurilsk. In 2001 the SRM’s branches were eliminated by the order of Manager of Regional Department of Education, Culture and Sport and the branches were granted a status of municipal museums.
Activities of the Sakhalin Regional Museum are based upon professionalism, principles of creative initiative and mutual aid. Thanks to it the museum collections were enriched by more than tenfold having become an important scientific center of the Far East not just among museums of the Far-Eastern Region, but also among academical institutions. The museum issues periodicals, articles, monographs, pamphlets and other scientific production devoted to the Sakhalin and the Kuriles’ topics. The Sakhalin Regional Museum is known in many countries of the world. Its scientific employees actively participate in international research projects, conferences and expeditions.
The Museum is a keeper of a social and cultural history and a custodian of artifacts of Sakhalin and the Kuriles’ natural history. In the museum’s repositories there are as many as 200 thousand of objects and collections on natural history, history and cultural heritage of the peoples of the Russian Federation.
Rare collections are represented by ancient artifacts of the Sakhalin indigenous peoples’ traditional culture (of such people as Ainu, Ulta (Oroks), Nivkhi) and paleontological collections. Paleontological collections containing primordial (the most ancient) remains of cetacean,plants and mollusks, living in this region tens of millions years ago in Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods, reveal a history of the planet Earth and that of organisms inhabiting it.
The Museum’s activities as a whole are aimed at enlarging knowledge of the Sakhalin Region and bringing it to the Museum’s visitors based on scientific work, gathering and keeping good custody of museum collections. As many as 70 thousand of local residents and guest of the Sakhalin Oblast visit the Museum annually.
Make yourself familiar with the Sakhalin Oblast by visiting the Sakhalin Regional Museum first!