The Field Museum of Lapland Or Museum of JSC “Northern Rare Metals” in Revda, Russia


The morning was a real Pole Arctic snowstorm, reminding me greatly of the winters in Chicago. In a heavy storm, the street of Revda was empty and it was difficult to notice a small, two-story house located between five-story buildings. Near the entry place was the artillery from World War II, covered by show. The museum was open, even in this weather (which surprised me), and a very friendly person greeted us upon our arrival. Two women offered a tour, but sometimes I like to wander alone. Inside were warm, large rooms that were well lit and inviting. We climbed to the second floor and journeyed to the history of the local area of the Kola Peninsula.

The field museum was opened in 1988 with a display of historical materials of studying and development of the northeast Kola Peninsula, and materials concerning the Lovozero tundra based on the private collection of A.B. Komarov, a founder of this museum. Lovozero GOK constructed the current museum, which is now on their budget.

Hibinsk and Lovozero tundra produce some of the widest variety of minerals in the world. The first scientific researches in Hibinsk and the Lovozero tundra were done by the expedition under the supervision of V. Ramzaya. The mineral loparite has a large industrial value. The joint-stock company “Sevredmet” works on the source of loparite deposits in Lovozero tundra. The Revda settlement was built up in 1950 to service this company with population of 9,500 in 2006, probably less today.

The observation started with historical materials, maps, and photos, including a photo of a group of some of the first women working in a mine. I was looking at that photo with thoughts about the destiny of these young women. Most of them, maybe, were killed in time of reprisals. However, I couldn’t find even one photo of prisoners working in mines or in this region. In the next large room, I found perhaps the best collections and world museum samples of many minerals, besides a large allocation of some rare minerals displayed. Here, I noted a small glass display with materials with reference to well known to the “Hibinsk era” expeditions supervised by famous academic A.E. Fersman.

In the corner of other room was a separate small exhibition dedicated to the dark period of Russia history, the time of Stalin reprisals. This display was interesting, but was simply a way of illustrating Stalin as a killing machine. The portrait of Lenin behind bars next to the portrait of Stalin symbolizes the beginning of dark pages of the twentieth century. From the end of the thirtieth years to the beginning of the fiftieth, Gulag camps were building a road that was supposed to cross the Kola Peninsula to open a way to the richest deposits of Kianitov Cave slates.

Also, the museum has an exposition about the year 1735 on the Kola Peninsula. A silver extraction on Bear Island and copper extraction were done under rule of Empress Anna Ioanovny. Copper from these mines was used to melt for coins in imperial treasury. This little-known page of Russian history slightly opened in the museum. Materials needed be from Moscow or S-Petersburg archives, or it was a dark history of that time.

The collection of minerals in the museum totals about five hundred samples and presented over one hundred minerals from Lovozero and Hibinsk tundra, Western Cave, and other interesting geological places of the northeast Kola Peninsula. Scientists, geologists, and collectors have donated many samples to the museum. The museum has over 5,000 artifacts and objects displayed in six rooms.

We were alone in the museum. Only rarely tourists, visitors of Revda or Lovozero tundra, scientists visiting the “Sevredmet,” schoolchildren, and soldiers from numerous bases may have interest to attend the Field museum.

To my astonishment, the museum had artifacts from World War II. I felt uncomfortable observing too many German documents, letters, private belongs, clothes, and even a steel barrel and wondered what the reason could be for this display.

Also on the display were civilian items from household to religion, including a sewing machine, old accounting calculator, radio, icons, and a vezha (temporary dwelling) from the tundra. The professionalism of peoples working in this museum of city-like settlement amazed me.

In one of the show rooms, my attention was drawn to some products of joint-stock company “Sevredmet” called “Flower on Stone.” These were souvenirs made on a metal plate cut out in the form of a flower with artificial crystals grown up in regular intervals on all surface. On the first floor were located different guns.

My suggestion for every tourist of the Lovozero tundra interested in mineralogy is that it is worth a trip to spend time in this Field museum. Despite my travels to many large and small museums in numerous countries, this place has a different approach. It’s a revealing history of developing the Pole Arctic area of Kola Peninsula. It was established by people who loved that region and worked here all their lives regardless of circumstances and environment.