The study is the same room of Mendeleev’s apartment where it used to be when the scientist was alive. Mendeleev moved from the University-owned apartment in 1890. There is very little information about the interior of Mendeleev’s study from 1866 to 1890. That is why the Museum had to recreate the interior of his study in the Chief Bureau of Weights and Measures. Photographs were used that were taken in 1903 by Mendeleev’s assistant Fyodor Blumbach. Therefore, entering the study, visitors may get a clear idea of what the study looked like. It is where the great scientist worked.
Of particular value is the library of Mendeleev, which had been formed throughout his academic career. It represents the diversity of his scientific, social, and political and aesthetic interests. This library differs from any other for a number of reasons. First of all, it has a very well-thought-out system of arrangement and keeping of books, articles, printing copies, press cuttings, illustrations. Mendeleev compiled most of the volumes himself and had them bound into convolutes with the general topic, year of publishing, number of volume according to the catalogue, and the initials ‘D.M.’. Another distinguishing feature of the library of Dmitri Mendeleev is manuscripts. Several volumes are comprised only of manuscripts, such as hand written extracts from literature on a particular subject, or the notes of Mendeleev. Many books and articles were received by Mendeleev as a gift and have dedicatory inscriptions from Russian and foreign scientists.
According to the Archives, the first version of the Periodic Law dates back to 1869. Three manuscripts with the main variants of the table dated 17 February 1869 are known. A very important document is the draft of the full Periodic Law with the notes which testify to the fact that the manuscript was the hand written version of the very famous printed sheet that was sent to many Russian and foreign chemists on the 1 May 1869 (Gregorian calendar).
Documents in the Archives and the library, and recollections of his contemporaries show
Mendeleev’s great love for literature and art. Mendeleev was an honoured member of the Academy of Arts; a member of the board of the Academy; a regular visitor to art exhibitions; and a close friend of many famous artists. He took part in organising several exhibitions of the Society for Itinerant Art Exhibitions, various discussions of art and literary, and arts evenings. In the 1880s, scientists, artists and people involved professionally in culture would regularly gather in Mendeleev’s apartment. Those gatherings were called ‘The Mendeleev Wednesdays’. At the exhibition you can see the table cloth on which guests left their signatures; later Mendeleev’s wife and daughter embroidered those signatures with coloured threads.
On 21 December 1911, Mendeleev’s study (it was the first name of the Museum) was opened and consecrated. The study was more a storage for different documents and items than a proper museum. In 1934, due to preparation for the 100 years’ anniversary of the scientist, Mendeleev’s study received new exhibits and was transformed into a museum. The son of the scientist, Ivan Mendeleev, took an active part in working on the exhibition of the new museum.
World War Two interrupted the work of the Museum for only a short period of time. Having returned from evacuation, the younger daughter of the scientist, Maria MendeleevaKuzmina, began systemising and describing the archives and the library items. On 22 July 1952, a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, signed by Joseph Stalin, was adopted on storing all the materials connected with the life and work of the scientist in the Dmitri Mendeleev Museum and Archives. A new stage of studying the heritage of Mendeleev started. In the beginning of the 1950s the Museum was expanded. It received new rooms that had been part of the apartment and laboratory of Mendeleev. Also, the Museum got back the room where the study of the scientist had been when he had been a professor of the University. In 1956, the Museum opened for public. The exhibition took up seven rooms. In the second half of the 1980s, the Dmitri Mendeleev Museum and Archives was reconstructed and expanded again. It opened in a new form in the spring of 1993.
The collections of the Museum and Archives include: personal belongings of Dmitri
Mendeleev; memorial furniture from Mendeleev’s apartment; portraits of Mendeleev by Ivan Kramskoi, Nikolai Yaroshenko and Anna Mendeleeva (Popova); portraits of Mendeleev’s mother and father: and portraits of his family members and friends.
A large part of the collection is the scientific archive of Mendeleev, which consists of his manuscripts, letters, work drafts, dairies, and notebooks. Today, it is the biggest collection of documents connected with his life and work.
A collection of art built by Mendeleev himself is also of a great interest. Mendeleev loved collecting replications and paintings. He thoroughly systemised the pieces of art and made annotations to every replication. A large collection of photo documents as well as honorary diplomas of Mendeleev also belong to the archive.
There is a collection of Mendeleev’s own works, compiled by the author himself, including several manuscripts, portraits and drafts.
Mendeleev’s scientific devices, most of which were created from his original schemes, take a special place in the Museum collection. Throughout his scientific career, Mendeleev paid attention to the problem of precise measurements. In 1892, he accepted the invitation of the minister of finance Sergei Witte to become a head of the ‘Depot of Exemplary Measures and Weights’ in St Petersburg. In 1893, on the initiative of the scientist, this institution was transformed into the ‘Chief Bureau of Weights and Measures’ with far-reaching targets. These included creating the Russian system of standards of measure, organising a meteorology service, and carrying out research in the field of meteorology. The differential barometer used for measuring pressure is one of the most interesting exhibits of the Museum. This device, unlike the usual cumbersome ones, was rather small and could be used both in laboratory and in field research.
Around 5,000 people visit the Museum annually. Among them there are: famous politicians
(Xi Jinping, President of the Republic of China; Jacque Chirac, President of France; Grigory
Yavlinsky, Gennadiy Seleznyov); scientists (Nobel Prize laureats Ilya Prigogine, Linus Carl Pauling, Glenn Seaborg; academicians Pyotr Kapitsa, Vladimir Fock, Pavel Sarkisov, Vitaly Goldansky); and many others.