We recommend every tourist begin their journey through the cities and towns of the Southern Urals by visiting the local museums of lore. This is perhaps the only way to find out that, once upon a time, there was a paleo-volcano among the mountains, and huge mammoths and woolly rhinos roamed the area. But if your trip is too short, visit one of the six most interesting museums in the Chelyabinsk Region.
This museum is widely regarded as one of the main attractions of Chelyabinsk. People come here to get insight into the region, start feeling the atmosphere of the Southern Urals, and also see the modern city, as the roof of the museum offers a panoramic view of the Miass River embankment.
There are three permanent exhibitions. The hall of antiquities and nature exhibits materials about the formation of the Ural Mountains and its primitive people, along with its paleontological collections.
And, of course, it is here that the largest fragment of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite that crashed on the territory of Chelyabinsk Region in 2013 is exhibited. The ‘celestial guest’ weighs half a tonne!
The second hall tells about the peoples of the Southern Urals, with models of settlements and authentic household items and costumes.
Another hall is dedicated to the history of the 20th century.
The museum also hosts annually the Debarkader contemporary art festival, which comprises all genres, from choreography to design.
It is not easy to visit all the halls in one day. Use a single ticket: it allows you to visit all open exhibitions twice within two weeks.
This Miass museum is a real piece of ‘stone paradise’. The fact is that the Ilmen Mountains are unique. They hold the secrets and riches of the Urals: more than 200 minerals have been discovered in a small area here, and 16 were discovered for the first time in Ilmeny.
The museum has about 9 thousand exhibits, and its total collection numbers about 30 thousand valuable minerals, not only from the Ilmen Reserve but also from all over the world: charoites and jaspers, emeralds and topazes, and even a piece of the Chelyabinsk Meteorite. The museum also has biological exhibitions with dioramas dedicated to the flora and fauna of the region. We advise you to take a guided tour to learn all the secrets of the Ural Mountains.
Tip: don’t forget to take some money for souvenirs! The museum houses several shops with lots of jewellery made from Ural gems: rings, necklaces, earrings, pendants... No woman could leave without a purchase!
Russia – My History Park is located in the very centre of Chelyabinsk, not far from Gagarin Central Park. And even if history is not quite your cup of tea, you should visit the park at least to see how visually fascinating it can be.
The exhibition consists of four permanent exhibitions, each about a specific era: these are The Rurikids, The Romanovs, From Great Shocks to the Great Victory. 1914–1945 and Russia – My History, which is about the recent period. All exhibitions are equipped at a state-of-the-art level, with cinemas and kinaesthetic exhibitions, touch panels, digital reconstructions and VR headsets.
The Russia – My History Park in Chelyabinsk is not the only one in the country. This is a chain of historical museums, but they are not all alike: each region has its own local history exhibitions, and the Chelyabinsk Museum focuses on the distinctive Southern Urals. For example, one of the virtual exhibits is the ancient Arkaim settlement.
Check your travel schedule against the park’s events: they hold film screenings, performances and lectures on weekends.
In the old part of the city of Miass, where the richest merchants and gold miners used to live, you can see the unusual house of the merchant Smirnov and the only Museum of Pelmeni (dumplings) in Russia.
A few years ago, the old mansion was a pitiful sight. Thanks to the patron Elena Semenova, the building has been completely restored.
Be sure to book a tour of the huge merchant’s house to learn about its past, admire the ballroom, and throw a coin to the unfortunate prisoner.
In its new life, the Smirnov’s mansion has turned into a gastronomic attraction for tourists. You can learn the story behind Russian dumplings, related folk customs and original recipes. Or you can visit a workshop on shaping dumplings, where you will see different ways of crimping them, and then celebrate your training with a delicious lunch of your own dumplings. We recommend that you pay a visit to the museum café: the menu has dozens of options for dumplings with fillings from duck and chicken hearts to radish with fried onions and red beans, and for dessert, you can take dumplings with lingonberries in pink champagne.
Take some pickles, Ural herbs, jams or tea as souvenirs from the grocery store to host Ural-merchant-style tea parties at home.
There are very few such museums anywhere in the world, and only one in Russia, located at a garment factory in the satellite town of Chelyabinsk, Kopeysk.
In this museum, you will find an impressive collection of thimbles (more than 2.5 thousand exhibits from hundreds of countries), collected by the director of the factory and the mastermind of the museum, Vladimir Malinovsky.
There are family thimbles passed down from generation to generation, porcelain thimbles which are now rather regarded as pieces of art, and English jewellery thimbles made of silver and decorated with rubies. There are even such exotic exhibits as a thimble made from a human tooth or from the hardened lava of Mount Etna! A wooden thimble from Tanzania was presented to the museum by a tailor from a local atelier, and a thimble made of walrus bone came from Chukotka.
You will come out of the Thimble Museum a convinced digitabulist, i.e. a thimble collector.
It is easy to get to the museum: it takes half an hour to get from Chelyabinsk to Kopeysk by car or one hour by public transport, and once in the town, just find your way to the Kopeisk garment factory. You can also visit the factory with a guided tour and even take part in a sewing workshop.
+7 (932) 238-77-77
3A Kemerovskaya Street, Kopeysk
It was said about the masters of the Kasli Iron Casting Plant that they turn rough cast iron into malleable wax, that’s how much the metal responded to them. They were masters in making small details, filigree and cast-iron lace. Kasli cabinet casting and small sculptures were widely renowned. Literally everything, from candlesticks and stove doors to stair railings and tombstones, was turned into a piece of art in Kasli.
The skill of Kasli’s craftsmen gained not only Russian but also global fame. A cast-iron exhibition pavilion made of 1500 parts (currently displayed in the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts) received the Great Gold Medal of the 1900 Paris Exposition, one of the key platforms for demonstrating technological innovations at the time.
The Kasli History and Art Museum displays several hundred objects of cast iron, including very small ones, like a cast iron watch chain.
The journey from Chelyabinsk to Kasli takes a little less than two hours one way by car, or two to three hours by bus.