Total number of museums: approximately 3000
Art and Design:  998
History:  1627
Archaeology: 340
Ethnography: 534
Natural History/Science: 385
Technical Museums/Science: 280
Special - Literature: 284
Special - Theatre: 64
Special - Music: 69
Other: around 300

Professionally run museums:  2027
Voluntarily run museums: no information
Heritage Sites/Monuments: 580

Museum Organisations at National Level

ICOM Russia


Russian Museums Union


Association of Museum Professionals of the Russian Regions (AMR)


Regional Museum Organisations

Association of Museums of Tatarstan


Legislation and Structure


From the beginning of the 1990s Russia has enacted some laws covering its cultural and historical heritage:

  • the Law “Foundations of Russian Federation Legislation on Culture” (1992)
  • the Law "On Export and Import of Cultural Valuables" (1993)
  • the Law “On Library Work” (1994)
  • the Federal Law “On Museum Fund of Russian Federation and Museums in Russian Federation” (1996)
  • the Federal Law “On Cultural Valuables Moved to the USSR as Result of the Second World War and Located in Russian Federation” (1998)
  • the Federal Law “On Objects of Cultural Heritage of Russian Federation People” (2002), the Federal Law “On Archival Work in Russian Federation”

According to the Federal Law "On Museum Fund of Russian Federation and Museums in Russian Federation" (the Law on Museums), the museum is “non-commercial institution of culture established an owner for keeping, studying and public presentation of museums’ items and collections”. The primary activities of museums are keeping items and collections and their presentation through publication in printed editions and by all means of digital. Museum Fund and museums in Russia are governed by the Federal executive body and local executive bodies in sphere of culture (Articles 4, 16 of the Law on Museums). According to the Article 27 the goals of museums establishing in Russia are:

  • keeping museum’ items and collections
  • discovering and gathering of museum’ items and collections
  • studying of museum’ items and collections
  • publication of museum’ items and collections and exercising of educational activity

In 2006, the Federal Law on Autonomous Institutions was adopted, and it was supposed that there would be two types of institutions: budget and autonomous, and that budget institutions will start to change their status. As a result, we got another legislative initiative, and 3 types of budget institutions are suggested: public/state institution, budget institution of the new type, and autonomous institution. 

The first one means a traditional budget institution, financed by its constitutor and having no financial assets of its own. It gets no money for further development, just for basic activities. This type can be suitable for museums which have no, or very limited opportunity to earn on their own. If such an institution earns something on its own, it all goes to the budget of the constitutor. If the money comes from sponsors, anyway the constitutor decides how it should be spent. In fact, it s considered that this type of institution is not exactly meant for museums, it was hard to get this status, though some museums did it.

The other two types are more relevant for museums.

Budget institution of the new type gets most of its budget from the constitutor, but it also earns a considerable part of it on its own. It is not free to decide how to spend the earned money; it has to be settled between the institution and its constitutor. 

Autonomous institution gets far less financial support from the constitutor. Only the basic activities are supported, which for museums means preservation of heritage. These institutions are free to earn and spend what they earn the way they like.

The law came into force in 2010. Until July 1, 2012 all museums (and cultural institutions) defined their status according to the law.


There are state (the prevailing type of ownership) and private museums in Russia. The state museums are divided into:

  • federal
  • regional
  • local (municipal)

Collection Mobility

The public loan policy has been established by the Law "On Export and Import of Cultural Valuables" (1993). Export of archives, unique and rare musical instruments, old age folios etc. outside the territory of the Russian Federation will be subject to availability of Export Certificate authorizing export of cultural property. Export Certificate for cultural property can be obtained directly from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. Cultural valuables declared for export are subject to mandatory expertise. 

Temporary export of cultural valuables is carried out by museums, archives, libraries, and other entities and individuals for the following purposes: exhibitions; restoration work and scientific research; theatrical, concert activities etc. or other occasions. Decision on temporary export possibility will be taken by RF Ministry of Culture's competent authorities.

Temporary export term shall be specified by customs authority of the Russian Federation based on information contained in Export Certificate. When a decision is taken on extension of temporary export term based on application by a person temporary exporting cultural valuables, RF Ministry of Culture or regional authority thereof shall notify of such decision customs authority which processed customs clearance for such temporary export. Cultural valuables returned to the Russian Federation following temporary exportation thereof shall be subject to mandatory expertise.

A request filed for temporary export of cultural goods by state and municipal museums, archives, libraries and other public repositories of cultural treasures is to be accompanied additionally by:

  • an agreement with the host organization stating the purposes and terms of temporary export of the cultural goods
  • a document confirming commercial all-risks insurance covering the outbound cultural goods, or a document of all-risks financial indemnity coverage for the cultural goods by a government agency in the host country
  • documented guarantees from the host organisation and government authorities in the host country regarding the safety and return of the cultural goods brought in for a specified period

High-value items of cultural heritage, items protected by the State and included in Protection Lists and Registers, cultural valuables in continuous storage at national and municipal museums, archives, libraries, and other national cultural valuable depositories in the Russian Federation as well as cultural valuables created over 100 years ago (unless otherwise stipulated by law) will not be allowed for movement outside the Russian Federation territory.

Last updated in April 2018.