Lietuvos mokslo istorikų ir filosofų bendrija

The 29th Baltic Conference on the History of Science

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2021

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2020

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2019

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2018

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2017

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2016

The 29th Baltic Conference on the History of Science, Vilnius


Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg (Russia)


History of Taxonomy and the Principles of Exhibition of the Collection in the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg: 300 Years of Change




Systematic exhibitions at the Zoological Museum, as one of the types of scientific publication, aim to reflect current views on the nature of animal diversity. The systematic collection of the Institute was formed over 300 years. The objective of this study is to understand how the exhibition of this collection has reflected the changing views of taxonomists, and what we must do today to transform these exhibitions in light of the revolutionary changes in taxonomy since the 1960s.


There have been several major changes over the last 300 years in the principles of arrangement of the systematic collections at the Zoological Museum. The museum had its origins in the Kuntskamera collections of Peter the Great. In 1724, the museum became a part of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A printed catalogue from 1742 showed that the collections were arranged according to the Aristotelian system. After a fire in the Kuntskammer building in 1747, the collections were moved temporarily to the House of Demidov, where they were arranged in a similar manner (from mammals to insects). When the collection returned to its original building in 1766, it was arranged according to the Linnaean system by Peter Simon Pallas (1741–1811). This arrangement continued into the early 19th century. When the collection moved to the museum wing of the Academy of Sciences in 1832, Johann Friedrich von Brandt (1802–1879) arranged it according to the system of Cuvier. Only when the museum moved to a new building near the Palace Bridge in 1896, was the collection arranged from the lower animals to the higher, reflecting the influence of evolutionary ideas.


The next permutation occurred during the sovietization of the Academy of Sciences in 1929–1934. The collections were arranged in an evolutionary manner. Tens of thousands of objects were moved to another place. Protostomia were separated from Deuterostomia. Echinodermata were placed at the end of the exposition of the invertebrates. During the Soviet post-war period, under the leadership of V.D. Dubinin, A.I. Ivanov, and D.V. Naumov, the taxonomic structure of the collection assumed its present form. Since 1989, the invertebrate collection has been arranged according to the 7th edition of V.A. Dogel’s text Invertebrate Zoology (Moscow, 1981).


Since the 1960’s, approaches to classification have undergone revolutionary transformations associated with the phylogenetic systematics of Willi Hennig (1913–1976) and with the advent of molecular systematics, which significantly modified the system based on the triad of comparative anatomy, embryology and paleontology.