The Collection of the Central Naval Museum began with ships' models collection of Tzar Peter the Great and Model Chamber of Saint Petersburg Admiralty, which is mentioned for the first time in Peter's letter of 24 January 1709. The main goal of the Model Chamber creation was to keep transport ships and warships draughts and models, constructed at the Admiralty shipyards for the Baltic Fleet.
Historical valuable materials and shipbuilding information were preserved in the Model Chamber. Its building was rather small for such a big collection and in 1805 a Maritime Museum was founded. Some years later engravings and pictures on marine themes in addition to draughts and ships models appeared in the Museum. But in spite of this in 1827 the Museum was closed because of the lack of room. And only in 1867 the Russian government opened the Museum again, yielded to public opinion and efforts of naval officers. Its collection was enriched by many valuable objects. Among them were personal things of emperor Peter I, the founder of Russian Navy, famous admirals and officers; paintings and engravings, specimens of cold steel and fire-arms. The main collection of warships and transport ships models was increased too. The restored Maritime Museum was located in the west wing of the Admiralty building. It was very popular among visitors. In 1909 it was renamed as Emperor Peter the Great's Maritime Museum.
The Revolution of 1917 and the Civil war in Russia 1918 - 1920 have brought essential correctives the Museum's exhibition. The main goal for it became to demonstrate the leading role of the Communist Party in restoration and development of the Navy. The collection enriched with materials concerning the work of seamen-communists, Fleet's Party and Comsomol organizations. The Museum has received items from the museums, closed to that time, for example, museums of Guards Naval Depot and Naval Cadet Corps. The subjects of a naval life, paintings wellknown marine painters as I. K. Aivazovskiy and A. N. Bogoliuboff, naval uniform, Russian awards and marks were obtained on auctions and the private persons. But at the same time, in 1920-30th the large number of subjects of the Romanov emperor's family, nobiliary surnames were annihilated in the Museum under the pressure of new circumstances. This loss has become irreplaceable. And only due to the true devotees of Museum it became possible to preserve the less, that makes the pride of its collection today.
During the World War II a part of the collection was evacuated to Ulyanovsk city. But a number of the employees had being worked in blocaded Leningrad, collecting the unique materials concerning the defenders of Leningrad. Excursion&lecturer work was going on the ships and in units of Red Banner Baltic Fleet, at the enterprises and in hospitals of the besieged city The mobile exhibitions worked.
The changes in Russia of the end 1980-th - beginning of 90-th have allowed the Museum to turn to the Museum's reserved collections and to show to public the subjects, documents and materials revealling pre-revolutionary history of the Russian Navy. The Museum has developed wide exhibition activity as in Russia and abroad. Peoples of the cities Nakhodka, Kaliningrad, Moscow, Archangelsk, Pskov, Yalta, Tyumen, Vyborg, Severodvinsk have got acquainted with its collections. Museum's assembly have received a high estimation in Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Spain, USA. The scientific and creative connections with museums of Russia and foreign countries have extended. The increasing of CNM's popularity and scientific authority has stirred up the first wave emigrants and their descendants. We were gifted the interesting materials from France, Holland, Japan, Tunis, USA. Citizens of Russian Federation do not leave us without attention too. óollection of the Museum totals about 700'000 items today.
The Central Naval Museum repeatedly participated in joint exhibitions with State Hermitage, State Tretyakov Gallery, State Russian Museum, State museums-reserves «Moscow Kremlin», «Petershoff», «Tsarskoye Selo», «Pavlovsk», «Gatchina», State Museum of history of St. Petersburg, State Museum of Religions history, Museum of anthropology and ethnography ("Cabinet of curiosities"), A. A. Popov Central Museum of communications, State Memorial Museum of A. V. Suvorov, Central Museum of the Armed Forces of Russian Federation, Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering and Intercommunicational corps, Military Medicine Museum and others.
For last years authority of the Museum has considerably grown. It has become the member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) International Association of Military Museums & Military History (IAMAM), International Congress of Maritime Museums (ICMM), Union of the creative museum workers of St. Petersburg and region.
Large popularity and authority the CNM is obliged for those museum's patriots who works in it for many years. The proud of the Museum are: L. I. Bereznitskaya, A. K. Belik, K. P. Krasnopol'skiy, A. L. Larionov, V. B. Morozova, L. S. Petrova, L. G. Shuster, I. P. Sukhanov, T. N. Topornina, A. A Tron'.
Recently the Museum has celebrated its 290th anniversary. Its scientific employees have the large creative plans. Highly professional collective, its knowledge and purposefulness is the pledge, that the Museum will keep traditions of the oldest scientific-educational institution and perfectly will be the pride of Russian Navy and the treasury of maritime glory of Russia.