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Post and Telecommunication Central Popov Museum


The Museum's History
Scientific Departments in the Museum
Masterpieces of the Collection

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The Museum's History

The Central Museum of Connection named after Popov is situated in the former Prince Bezborodko's palace (1747-1817), built in 1799 after the architect Kvarengi's plan.

The Central Museum of Connection named after Popov is the only Russian state museum presenting the history of the development of telecommunication and other forms of communication: mail, telegraph, telephone, radio, mobile, television and cosmic connection, from their beginning to the present day.

Scientific Departments in the Museum

The Devices Research Department

The Documental Funds Research Department

The Mail Payment Notes Research Department


The collection, started in 1884, is the world's largest (containing more than 8 million pieces) state collection of Russian and foreign mail payment notes, which begins with first world mail printings. Philatelic items from around the world are still coming into the Museum from the World Post Union. Russian items departments are unique because they contain chronologically systematized collections both of main mail payment notes and their variations. Most importantly, these collections contain original sketches, essays, probes, patterns, authorized and unauthorized projects --very valuable spade-work which cannot enter any private collection.

Some Historical Facts about Russian Mail Collections

The Post Department's collections were publicly displayed for the first time in 1872 at the Moscow Politechnical Exhibition, arranged by the Imperial Society of Nature, Antropology and Ethnography, that was affiliated with Moscow University. The Post[al?] Department presented postal maps, bags, models of mail coaches and ways of mail delivery, postal uniform sketches and other postal paraphenalia. These objects were the foundation of the current collection. A visitor will find the exhibitions of postmarks and seals, numbering more than 7 thousand, quite impressive. The collections of postmen's uniform and guns, mailbags, trucks, horns and bells though smaller in number, are equally fascinating.

The Collection of Telegraph Connection Devices

The early years of telegraph communication are illustrated with various objects and optical semaphore telegraphs. The collection contains Shato's optical semaphore telegraph, used in Russia from 1833 to 1854. The longest mainline from Petersburg to Warsaw consisted from 149 stations. It took 45 minutes for a message in 25 words to arrive.

The most unique exhibit in the telegraph collection is the first telegraph device, invented by Shilling in 1832. The device was first used in 1835 on an underground line of the Admiralty building, and was approved.

Another exhibit includes the first recording telegraphs, invented by Academician Jakobi in 1839, which functioned in the Headquarters from 1839 to 1841. Jakobi's telegraph collection also contains the original vertical pointer device, made in 1842, and the first pointer printing device, invented by Jakobi in 1850, on the basis of the horizontal pointer device. Pointer devices were used for a long period of time until the appearance of Morse's relief devices. Since 1947 the first telegraph lines in Russia used Siemen's devices, one of which was a horizontal pointer Siemen's device with a keyboard. Pointer devices were followed by relief ones working until the middle of the 19th century, which pressed steel Morze's letters on the paper ribbon using a Fersterling string switchboard. The string switchboard, used to make a connection, is the only one stil in existence in the world. Blackprinting Morze's devices by "Siemens and Galske Co." were used until the middle of the 20th century. They were very popular and had lots of modifications, one of the best being made by the Dinie brothers, which is included in the collection.

A letter-printing device invented by Yuz in 1855 was used in Russia from 1865 until the Great Patriotic War. In 1895 it was improved by the Russian mechanic Buchgame, who accomplished it with the power drive.

A device by Italian inventer Kazelli for image transmition through telegraph lines was already used in Russia in the middle of the last century. It dyed the potassium-soaked paper when electric power passed through it. Kazelli's devices were erected on the Petersburg-Moscow line in 1866 and were removed in 1868. Our museum owns the only original set of these devices. The Collection of Telephone Devices and Telephone Stations The first telephone was invented by Bell, a teacher at a school for blind and deaf children in Boston. He received the licenece in 1876. Bell's telephone looked like a tube with a magnet coil inside. The telephone could transmit and receive a human voice at a distance of 500-600 meters. The collection contains 10 of Bell's original receivers of various modifications (1875-1881). An original 1878 Yuz micriphone is in the collection. This is a microphone containg a carbon stem which transformed sound waves into electrical waves, extending telephone connection.

Russian scientists and inventors Golubitsky, Gvozdev, Ohorovitch and others were great telephone developers. Original phones by the great Russian scientists and inventors Golubitsky, Gvozdev, Ohorovitch, and others are presented in the collection.

The first telephone stations were opened in St-Petersburg in 1882. Moscow, Odessa, Riga, Warsaw. The Moscow telephone station began functioning on the 1st of June, 1882. The St-Petersburg telephone station opened on the 30th of October, 1882. Galeland's switchboards for one wire lines, which are also in the collection, were installed on these lines.

In 1890-91, Ercisson's switchboards replaced Galeland's switchboards at large Russian telephone stations.

In 1898 the first long-distance telephone line between Petersburg and Moscow was biult. It was the forth longest line in the world. The designer was Vojnarovsky, and the head manager was Novitsky. The first switchboard of this line is in the museum's collection.

In 1905, a new group system telephone station for 70,000 users was built in St-Petersburg, located on 22 Boljshaja Morskaya Street.

The Collection of Radio Connection and Transmition Devices

This collection includes a unique collection of devices and reports from the radiolaboratory in Niszhny Novgorod from the 1920s.

Transmition devices are also on display, among them are some samples of the first Soviet detector and valve radiotransmitters of the 1920-1930s, popular post-war receivers, and more modern stereo radios. Television

The television collections include the first television receiving and transmitting devices with optical mechanical picture scanning, made in 1930, and a rich collection of television valve and semiconductor receivers --both black-and-white and color --made in Russia since 1938.

Additionally, the museum contains a collection of transmitting and receiving electrovacuum television tubes that begins with the post-war period.

Cosmic Connection

The collection of cosmic connection devices is full of unique exhibits, among which there is a copy of the radio receiver used on board of the spaceship "Vostok-1", a set of land devices for receiving television pictures from space, used during the spaceship coupling on the Apollo-Soyuz joint project.


The Museum's Documental Collection has more than 50 thousand objects and covers the history of all telecommunication devices from 1722 until the 1990s. It includes the private archives of a number of outstanding Russian inventors: the inventor of the telegraph Shilling; Jakobi; the radio inventor Popov; the inventor of television Rozing; the telephonia inventor Freidenberg; and others.


The library collects departmental journals of the Main Administration of Post Offices and Telegraph Stations, technical journals and textbooks. It contains more than 118,000 volumes and is a depository of connection and philately history.

Masterpieces of the Collection:

1. The only surving example of the first street mailbox. Constructed of inch planks, with an iron-plated exterior, the mailbox has a shielding peak to protect mail from the elements, and a window to access the mail. It was made in St-Petersburg in 1848 by the order of the Russian Post Department.

2. The design of the first Russian stamp, authorized in October, 1856 (a color, full-size picture, designed by Kepler).

3. An angular (with left and right margins) double Russian postal stamp with the genuine glue, 1857.

4. Round punch stamps made in Russia in 1856 from Kirhner's engravings after Reichel's drawing in two colors: the two-headed eagle and Mercurus head. The two postal horns crossing under the picture indicates that it belonged to the Postal Department.

5. A punch postal paper with the envelope disclosure for the St. Petersburg city post, passed via mail in April, 1846. There are 7 exhibits.

6. The first electromagnetic telegraph device made by Shilling in 1832 in St-Petersburg It consists of a keyboard transmitter and a multireceiver. It was presented for the first time in the inventer's flat in 1832. The Russian emperor Nicholas I was present at one of the early presentations.

7. Galiljand's switchboard of the lamel type, made in Western Europe in 1882. It is a woodern shield with vertical buses (lamels) on it. The connection was made by moving the shuttling contacts. It was used for the first time at the St. Petersburg telephone station in 1882.

8. The first Popov's coherer radio receiver made by Popov in Kronshtadt in 1895. It consists of a wooden chassis, receiving antenna, detector (of the coherer type), direct current amplifier (telegraph relay), and a sound indicator with the help of an electric bell.

9. The first Popov detector radio receiver, invented in 1899. It was made in the inventor's Kronshtadt radio workshop in 1902. It consists of a wooden framework, receiving antenna, crystal carbon detector and sound indicator with head telephones. It was patented in Russia, Great Britain and France.

10. "Radiotelescope" made by Bonch-Bruevitch in 1922 in Niszhny Novgorod.

11. Transmitting television camera with Nipkov's disc. It was manufactured at the Connection Research Institute in 1932. It consists of a scan unit with Nipkov's disc and a powerful arc lamp, also included is the reflected ray roll-in unit with a system of photoelements. It was used for first television transmittions in the 1930s.

12. The first Russian iconoscope made by Kataev in 1931. The manufacturer was the Leningrad Television Research Institute. It is inside a glass vacuum flask and was used in the first transmitting television cameras in the 1930-1940s.

13. Spaceship cosmic radioreceiver ZB-17. It was manufactured by the Research Institute named after Popov in 1961, for studying the distribution of radiowaves in outer space. It is a technical counterpart of the radiotransmitter installed in the spaceship Vostok-1, piloted by Gagarin in 1961.