Libmonster ID: MD-487
Author(s) of the publication: Stella PISAREVA

by Stella PISAREVA, Director of the Museum of History of Kazan University (Republic of Tatarstan)

Yefim Bushkanets, a student of the Department of History and Philology at Kazan University, future professor of the Teachers' Training College, in 1946 proposed an idea in the Leninets newspaper to establish a museum of history in the oldest higher education institution of Russia founded in 1804 by Emperor Alexander I. However, this work began only in 1978, when the university planned its 175th anniversary. The museum was accommodated in one of the most interesting premises of the main building constructed in 1825--a former church. A year later, on November 30, 1979, the museum was opened and soon became one of the most important propaganda centers promoting national science and culture.

The Imperial Kazan University in the 1830s. From the lithograph by Vasily Turin.

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The exposition starts with the documents of a special historical significance: the Approval Certificate in nine pages in a green velvet case, embroidered with a golden thread, the State Seal, expounding tasks, rights and fundamentals of the educational institution and the First Charter of the Imperial Kazan University determining its structure: 4 departments (moral and political sciences, physical and mathematical, medical and philological sciences, including the chair of Eastern languages), 28 professors, 12 associate professors, 3 lecturers and 3 teachers of "pleasant arts". Both originals were signed by Alexander I on November 5, 1804.


One of the central parts in the main section of the exposition dedicated to academic science is the corner of Nikolai Lobachevsky, founder of the non-Euclidean geometry (1826) and rector of the University (1827-1846), exhibiting his portrait and articles from the scientist's study.

On a small table, there is a hand-written pad of an incomplete geometry text-book, an inkpot, a personal signet in the form of an elegant female head with an emblem of the nobility on its reverse side granted to the mathematician in 1838, two candles under a green lampshade. There is an armchair and a long-case clock near the table; Lobachevsky used this clock to check time. It is still functioning: visitors of the museum listen to its tuneful striking with excitement. In show-cases we can see lifetime editions of Lobachevsky's brilliant works that, unfortunately, were not acknowledged by his coevals. Only the outstanding German mathematician Karl Gauss, who helped Lobachevsky to become corresponding member of the Gottingen Royal Scientific Society (Germany) and Hungarian geometrician Janos Bolyai shared Lobachevsky's views. Gauss' medal and portraits of the scientists are in the front line of the exposition.


Visitors of the exposition are proposed to get acquainted with the history of scientific schools through the portrait gallery and works of famous scientists of the 19th century: Alexander Popov, Lobachevsky's student

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and successor, corresponding member of St. Petersburg AS, specialist in hydromechanics; Academician Vasily Imshenetsky, doctors of sciences Fyodor Suvorov, who continued developing ideas of the non-Euclidean geometry, and Alexander Vasilyev, who made a lot to deepen mathematical knowledge by way of fruitful scientific, pedagogical and organizational activities (he headed the Kazan Society of Physics and Mathematics for 20 years). In the 20th century, Vasilyev's successor Professor Nikolai Parfentyev continued scientific studies of his teacher and, due to his erudition, managed to attract gifted students to scientific work. The exhibited works and photos of the teacher and his students are supplemented by personal belongings of the maestro, including a little-known musical instrument--zither (employees of the museum are interested not only in scientific achievements, but are also eager to show open-mindedness, interests and hobbies of the scientist).

Pyotr Shirokov, dean of the Department of Physics and Mathematics (1895-1944), took up Parfentyev's work. As founder of Kazan school of geometry, he was one of the pioneers who mastered tensor calculations (constituent part of differential geometry). This was mentioned in Shirokov's monograph (published in 1934) compiled on the basis of his lectures. It was he who noticed a gifted first-year student of the Department of Physics and Mathematics Alexei Petrov, who afterwards established and headed (from 1960) the chair of relativity theory and gravitation, the only one in the country. In 1952-1954, he proved the theorem establishing the existence of three types of Einstein's spaces, called "Petrov's types", which made him world-famous. As it was established later, affiliation to the second and third types is indicative of gravitational radiation in space--this made possible to shed light on one of the most complex and knotty questions of the general relativity theory. The museum exhibits a Diploma of the Lenin Prize Laureate (1972) Petrov for a series of works called Invariant-Group Methods of Gravitation Theory Studies, works, chess, the scientist devoted his free time to.

Boris Laptev (1905-1989), Dr. Sc. (Phys. & Math.), was a praiseworthy student and successor of Professor Shirokov. In 1984, he was awarded the USSR AS medal named after P. Chelyshev for a series of works on geometry of generalized space and research works dedicated to life and scientific heritage of Lobachevsky. Museum guides always complete the story on the scientific activity of the geometrician with a description of his bright and remarkable personality, interests and predilections--literature, music and painting.

The post-war mathematical life of Kazan University was to a large extent determined by Alexander Norden, Dr. Sc. (Phys. & Math.), graduate of Lomonosov Moscow State University, who in 1945 was invited to head the chair of geometry and soon established his

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own research school of generalized spaces. The museum exhibits his monograph Space of Affine Connection (1950) reflecting main ideas of its author.

The university was also famous for its school of algebra headed by Nikolai Chebotarev, USSR AS corresponding member (1894-1947). The scientist made a lot in studies of Galois theory*, theory of Lie groups**, resolvent (algebraic) equations. His works in this field, known both abroad and in our country, also make part of the museum exposition. The museum also keeps Chebotarev's personal belongings: a suitcase (the scientist never used brief-cases), an iron box with pieces of chalk he took to the lectures, a tobacco pouch and a cigarette-holder.

The university can also be proud of its specialists in mechanics: the remarkable educator Pyotr Kotelnikov (1809-1879), famous for his interesting and indepth lectures, his son Alexander Kotelnikov, Dr. Sc. (Tech.) (1865-1944), who laid foundations of vector calculus and mechanics in non-Euclidean space and made a lot to popularize scientific works of Lobachevsky, Ippolit Gromeka, Dr. Sc. (Applied Math.) (1851-1889), researcher of fluid mechanics whose works made part of all textbooks. Nikolai Chetaev, USSR AS corresponding member (1902-1959), founder of Kazan school of stability theory recognized world-wide, also contributed a lot to the development of exact sciences.

* Galois theory--a section of algebra studying symmetries of multinomial roots.--Ed.

** Theory of Lie groups--a section of abstract algebra studying algebraic structures, named groups, and their properties. Lie groups were named in honor of the Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie (1842-1899) and are used to solve differential equations.--Ed.


Astronomy as a science made a real breakthrough due to the Austrian researcher Joseph Littrow (1781-1840). Six years at the Kazan University resulted in setting up a chair there in 1810, in purchasing of instruments and arrangement of a small observatory. In 1816, when leaving the city, Littrow nominated his student Ivan Simonov as his successor; he soon became famous in the scientific community: as an observer, he participated in the round-the-world expedition on board the military boats Vostok and Maly carried out in 1819-1821 and headed by renowned Russian navigators Faddei Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. During that expedition the sixth continent (Antarctica) was discovered near the South Pole. Lazarev was the only scientist on board the ship: he made astronomical observations, conducted a series of important studies and collected valuable materials on mineralogy, ethnography, zoology and hydrology. The museum keeps unique showpieces: some of the articles from the collection brought by Simonov (a coconut, a musical instrument made of bamboo, a comb, a green nephrite chisel, a fishing hook), a drawing "Blocks of Ice Near the South Pole" made by the scientist during the voyage, the Fortin barometer, Breguet astronomical clock, books with results of his studies. In 2003, the Central Naval Museum (St. Petersburg) donated a model of the boat Vostok to the museum.

The development of astronomy in late 19th century is associated with Marian Kovalsky, St. Petersburg AS corresponding member, outstanding theoretician and gifted observer, Dmitry Dubyago (Dr. Sc), who togeth-

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er with his colleague and friend Vasily Engelhardt, St. Petersburg AS corresponding member, constructed an astronomical observatory in the countryside in 1899-1901. That time Engelhardt lived in Dresden, where he had a well-equipped observatory. In 1897, he donated many of his instruments and 2,000 books from his library to Kazan University.


According to the Charter of 1804, the university had a single chair of physics and physical geography. The museum exhibits portraits and works of scientists of the 19th century--Academician Adolf Kupfer, who laid foundations of geomagnetic studies, professors Robert Colli and Nikolai Sluginov, who worked with electricity,

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Dmitry Goldgammer, whose works in the sphere of electromagnetic theory of light played a significant role in the development of new theoretical optics.

A new discovery made in 1944 by the Kazan physician Yevgeny Zavoisky*--electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR)**--contributed a lot to a rapid development of science in the 20th century. Visitors of the museum pay special attention to Du Bois magnet--basic component of a device required to conduct EPR experiments, first articles of the innovator published in the KSU Scholarly Notes, a hand-written report on the work at the Moscow Institute of Problems of Physics in January 1945, handed over to the museum by Academician Alexander Shalnikov, a model of the installation to observe electron paramagnetic resonance--a present made by Academician and Nobel Laureate (1978) Pyotr Kapitsa (he received it from Zavoisky on account of his 80th birth anniversary). The EPR discovery Diploma, registered in the State Register on June 23, 1970, with a priority of July 12, 1944, is one of the most valuable exhibits of the museum. The effect of absorption of a radio-frequency field in the matter discovered by the scientist served as a starting point to form a major school of radiospectroscopy and quantum electronics at the Kazan University. One of the photos of

See: I. Silkin, "The Resonance Effect", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2012.--Ed.

** See: V. Popov, "A Pioneer in Paramagnetic Resonance", Science in Russia, No. 6, 2008.--Ed.

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the exposition represents three leaders of this school-Academician Yevgeny Zavoisky and USSR AS corresponding members Boris Kozyrev and Semyon Altschuler. The latter also discovered acoustic paramagnetic resonance, which is proved by exhibited materials.


This is how historians rightfully call the laboratory of chemistry of the mid-19th century, which made the Kazan University known all over the world (a new section of the exposition starts with a photo of the laboratory). In 1842, it was there that Academician Nikolai Zinin obtained synthetic aniline from nitrobenzene, which laid foundations for the industrial organic synthesis and served as a basis for establishment and development of anilinedye and pharmaceutical industries. Two years later, in this very laboratory Carl Klaus, St. Petersburg AS corresponding member, discovered ruthenium named in honor of our country (Ruthenia means Russia in Latin)--the first element that, similar to some bacteria, makes it possible to bind nitrogen of the air into a chemical compound.

Further achievements in this science are associated with the name of a talented student of Zinin and Klaus-Academician Alexander Butlerov (1828-1886), founder of Kazan school of chemistry. The museum displays a number of rarities connected with the scientist--the first page of his report at the meeting of German natural scientists and physicians in Speyer in 1861, where he presented his famous theory of chemical structure of organic compounds and newly discovered substances--dioximethylene and artificially produced methyl-enitan.

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Butlerov's ideas were further developed by Vladimir Markovnikov, Dr. Sc. (Chemistry) (1837-1904); St. Petersburg AS corresponding members Alexander Zaitsev (1841-1910) and Flavian Flavitsky (1848-1917), Academician Alexander Arbuzov (1877-1968)--founder of a new line of chemistry--chemistry of organophosphates. The showcase exhibits Arbuzov's thesis for master's degree "On the Structure of Phosphorous Acid and its Derivatives" (1905) and his doctor's thesis "On the Phenomena of Catalysis in the Sphere of Metamorphosis of Some Compounds of Phosphorus" (1915). Visitors often stop before two glass retorts filled with salicylic acid and aspirin. During the World War I (1914-1918) these drugs were in deficit in our country--before the war they had been supplied from Germany--and Arbuzov organized their production in Kazan, proving to be a talented design engineer and technologist. By the way, he also was a gifted glass blower (the museum keeps his work table and a retort produced by the scientist), keen musician (our collection has a photo of a violin quartet of chemists, his private music-stand, bow, Beethoven's sonatas).


The water-color portrait of Karl Friedrich Fuchs (1776-1846), Doctor of Medicine, German scientist-encyclopedist, the first professor of natural history and botany, who spent in Kazan 40 years, 30 of which--at the Kazan University, takes the place of honor in the museum exposition. It was he who laid foundations of our schools of biology.

In the 1940s, a new scientific line--paleobotany--was developed by Vladimir Baranov (1889-1967), Dr. Sc. (Biol.), at the chair of botany. On a regular basis he gathered samples of a fossil flora, mainly of the tertiary period (65-1.8 mln years ago), and conducted many research works. The "production instrument" of the scientist--a special hammer, rock samples and his works-are now in the museum's collection. Visitors can get acquainted with the achievements of the chair of plant physiology established in 1932, its founder Alexei Alexeyev, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), and his student Academician Igor Tarchevsky.

In the 1960s this institution gave birth to a school of geobotany, whose representatives studied plant communities (phytocenoses) of the Earth. The exhibition incorporates portraits of the founder of the school Academician Sergei Korzhinsky and his follower Andrei Gordyagin, corresponding member of the USSR AS.

As for zoologists, Eduard Friedrich Eversmann (1794-1860), born in Westphalia (Germany), corresponding member of St. Petersburg AS--traveler, geographer, pedologist, botanist, author of a 3-volume work The Natural History of the Orenburg Territory (1840, 1850 and 1866)--stands out of his associates. In the course of expeditions to Kazan, Samara, Ufa, Orenburg, Astrakhan regions, Kirghiz steppes, Ural Region, and Altai, the explorer collected a very valuable zoo-geographical material, due to which the fauna of these territories became known better than of any other Russian region.


The Department of Medicine was established in 1814. One of the oldest chairs of anatomy is represented in the works prepared by professors Yevgeny Aristov, Pyotr Lesgaft, Vladimir Tonkov, Alexander Petrov, Academician Vasily Ternovsky.

The major national school of neurohistology, established by Karl Arnstain (1840-1919), Dr. Sc. (Med.),

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whose ideas were developed in the 20th century by Alexander Mislavsky, Dr. Sc. (Med.), Boris Lavrentyev and Nikolai Kolosov, USSR AS corresponding members, was initiated at the department.

Kazan school of therapeutic treatment was established by an outstanding clinicist Nikolai Vinogradov (1831-1886) and further developed by professors Sergei Zimnitsky, Nikolai Kotovshchikov, Alexander Kazem-Bek, Mikhail Cheboksarov and Nikolai Goryaev. The latter invented the so-called Goryachev's chamber to count uniform elements of blood, which makes a part of our collection.

The museum did not forget the founder of national ophthalmology Yemelian Adamyuk (1839-1906), who organized an eye hospital, the first in Kazan. Near his portrait, there are special spectacles he used to examine patients with and a monograph Diseases of a Photo-Sensitive Eye Apparatus (1887).

Kazan school of surgery was established in mid-19th century by Vasily Razumovsky (Dr. Sc), Viktor Bogoly-

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ubov (Dr. Sc), and Academician Alexander Vishnevsky. The museum keeps their personal collections: photographs, off-prints of the articles, personal belongings, a pencil drawing by the artist Yulia Razumovskaya, who painted her father on board the steamboat travelling from Kazan to Saratov, the popular Bogolyubov textbook The Fundamentals of General Surgery (1931), Vishnevsky's diploma on graduation from the Imperial Kazan University (1899), photos of the 1920s showing him during an operation, his surgical instruments and "Vishnevsky's ointment" that saved lives of many wounded soldiers during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

Kazan school of physiology--one of the oldest in Russia--originated in 1858, when Filipp Ovsyannikov headed the chair of physiology. This school was famous for many outstanding physiologists known throughout the world: Nikolai Kovalevsky, Dr. Sc. (Med.) (1840-1891), Nikolai Mislavsky (1854-1928), USSR AS corresponding member, Vladimir Bekhterev (1857-1927), Dr. Sc. (Med.)--this outstanding doctor initiated national experimental psychology and promoted establishment of the first laboratory of psychology in Kazan in 1885, which holds a special place in the exposition.

A special corner is occupied by the founder of Kazan school of electrophysiology Alexander Samoilov (1867-1930): his laboratory table, a chair from his study, and a string galvanometer, which in 1906 registered the first electrocardiogram of man in our country.

Other remarkable achievements include a discovery of etherification (reactions of formation of complex esters) of an inorganic phosphate during breathing made in 1931 by Academician Vladimir Engelgardt; in other words, a discovery of oxidation phosphorylation (ATF), a significant contribution of national scientists to the world science. Next to the photo of the discoverer, there is a manometer of Warburg's respiratory apparatus (thus named after the German biochemist and physiologist Otto Warburg).

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After establishment of the Law Department in 1837, Dmitry Mayer, Dr. Sc. (Law), made a lot for the development of the national legal science. His lectures were very popular among students and city residents. The exposition also tells about Alexander Piontkovsky and his contribution to the criminal law, Nikolai Zagoskin and Gavriil Shershenevich and their contribution to the history and theory of law, Anton Stanislavsky and his contribution to the history and philosophy of law.

Philology that actively developed at the university in the first half of the 19th century is represented by the school of Slavic studies, established by Viktor Grigorovich, corresponding member of St. Petersburg AS, and Jan Baudouin de Courtenay, corresponding member of St. Petersburg AS, founder of the famous Kazan school of linguistics, who worked at the Kazan University in 1875-1883. This eminent linguist formed the so-called Baudouin circle that united Nikolai Krushevsky, Sergei Bulich and Vasily Bogoroditsky, corresponding member of St. Petersburg AS.

In the first half of the 19th century the Kazan University became known as the major center of oriental studies in Europe. The exposition includes portraits of prominent representatives of this scientific trend: Acad. Christian Frahn; Osip Kovalevsky, founder of the first chair of the Mongolian language in Europe; Vasily Vasilyev, head of the first national chair of the Chinese language; Alexander Kazem-Bek, head of the chair of the Turkish-Tatar language, corresponding member of St. Petersburg AS; Ilya Berezin, outstanding turcologist, professor of the Turkish-Tatar language; Ibragim Khalfin, founder of scientific studies of the Tatar language, as well as monographs, textbooks and items from Chinese collections of Orientalists found in the course of expeditions.

In 1854, all six chairs of oriental studies were transferred to the St. Petersburg University. In Kazan Turkic studies were headed by Nikolai Katanov, graduate of the Kazan University. His doctorate Studies of the Uryankhai Language (1903), a part of the golden fund of the world Turkic studies, is exhibited in the museum.

Visitors of the museum can get acquainted with the first literary experiments of Sergei Aksakov and Vladimir Panaev, learn more about artists and writers who studied at the university in different times (writers Pyotr Boborykin, Yevgeny Chirikov, Pavel Melnikov-Pechersky, poet Velimir Khlebnikov), about student years of the classic of the world literature Leo Tolstoi. In the showcase, there is a pencil drawing of an unknown painter Tolstoi the Student, the yellowed program of the performance The Living Pictures in the Assembly Hall of the university in 1846 with participation of Leo Tolstoi, two books: The Order by Yekaterina II and The Spirit of Laws by Montesquieu. Perhaps, the writer used these very books when making a comparative analysis of the above-mentioned works by order of Professor Dmitry Mayer.

At all times the Kazan University was a seat of democracy. The museum materials contain a lot of historical events the University was involved in: the first political demonstration of students called Kurtinskaya Requiem held on April 16, 1861, at Kurtinskaya Church to commemorate "peasants killed in the village of Bezdna"; a revolutionary meeting with participation of a student of the Law Department Vladimir Ulyanov held on December, 1887; a shameful "Lesgaft Case" (1871), a protest against dismissal of the famous anatomist Pyotr Lesgaft, who criticized practices of those times when seven professors left the university.

In addition to the main exposition, our museum has a memorial complex: a lecture hall of the Law Department, a conference hall, a hall named after Nikolai Lobachevsky and the permanent exposition The Line of Scientific Defense. "The museum represents a very significant part of the common national history of science. I was shaken to see such careful attitude to our glorious past,"--these are words of Yuri Osipov, RAS President, who in 1998 made an entry in the Reference Book, and almost 500,000 people who have visited this temple of science share this view.


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