Before the Great October Socialist Revolution this stately mansion was the home of Matilda Kshesinskaya, the prima-ballerina of the Mariinsky Theater and lover of Nicholas II in his pre-tsar days. Then for a long time it was a museum for the very same Great October Socialist Revolution that was so bad for Matilda's lover. Now it is a museum of Russian political history. Also on the premises is an exhibition of wax figures which constitutes part of St. Petersburg's Wax Museum (the rest of the museum is on display at the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace and in Petrodvorets).
Take a couple minutes to gawk at the agitprop stained-glass at the back of the main entry hall. The revolutionary slogans read, from left to right, "land to the peasants," "peace to the people," "power to the soviets," and "bread to the hungry."
One ticket will allow you to see the four exhibitions of the Museum of Political History. The kassa is located on the right side of the main entry hall. The most interesting of the exhibitions is that of Russian political parties and movements from the late 19th century to the present - from People's Will to Zhirinovsky as it were. The exhibition, labeled in Russian, has documents, photos, letters, old newspapers, death sentences, banners, posters, and other memorabilia from the most politically turbulent times in Russia. Amongst the eclectica you can find a piece of the Berlin Wall, an NKVD (secret police) uniform from Stalin's time, a "typical suit of an apparatchik from the 1970s," and a poster from Zhirinovsky's 1991 presidential campaign - the eighth point of his platform promises cheap vodka for all.
Ballet aficionados will enjoy the exhibit dedicated to the life of Matilda Kshesinskaya, with diaries, letters, personal effects (including a sketch she made of the future tsar), and photos. The exhibit on the Russian Duma from 1905 to 1917 will be of interest only to history buffs, and the exhibit entitled "Finance, Banking, and Enterprise in the 19th and 20th Centuries" will be of interest only to boredom buffs.
2/4 Kuibyshev St. Metro: Gorkovskaya, St.-Petersburg. History museum open 10:00-18:00, closed Thursdays. On Tuesday evenings chamber music and occasionally literary readings are held here.
Tel: 233 7189, 233 7052.