I recently went to the Музей Автомотостарины, (The Museum of Antique Cars and Motorcycles). As I’m not exactly a car enthusiast, I was initially skeptical. However, the exhibition quickly grew on me, and I walked out with a smile on my face. For those who are interested in old, Soviet vehicles, I would highly recommend this museum, which is the first of its kind in Russian. For those not so fascinated by cars or motorcycles, you might be interested to see some of the war machines used during World War II. Give it a chance!
The museum was opened in March of 2002, with the goal of collecting, preserving, and restoring Soviet cars and motorcycles. My group didn’t have a guide, so we had free reign over the museum to look at whatever we wanted. The museum itself had three different types of exhibits: old cars that were made or used in the Soviet Union, a hall dedicated to motorcycles and motocross competition, and a special exhibit of Soviet vehicles used in WWII. The first exhibit displayed a variety of Soviet cars (and some American ones, too, that were used in the USSR!). When I inquired about the origin of the American cars in Russia, I was informed that they appeared during WWII when the Russians and Americans were allies. Listed in front of the cars, in both English and Russian, were not only the names and year of production, but also more information for car buffs, such as information about the type of engine.
The second room, or rather, hallway, was lined with an assortment of motorcycles, chronicling the development and appearance of motorcycles in the Soviet Union and detailing their technical specifications. Along the opposite side of the hallway were different car and motorcycle parts. At the end of the motorcycle hallway was another room filled with motorcycles, but this time it was dedicated to the sport of motorcycle racing. Different pictures of famous Soviet racers were featured and descriptions were written about them.
The final room displayed various military vehicles used by the Soviet Union during WWII. This room was particularly interesting for me, because not only are there vehicles displayed, but also weapons and some propaganda posters! In fact, the whole museum is littered with Soviet era posters and propaganda, which are worth noting.
The museum itself is located in an unadorned building on Sakhalinskaya Street. Any taxi driver should know how to get there, however. Unfortunately, there aren’t any nearby bus routes, despite being not all that far from the center. While our group didn’t have a guide, feel free to ask the museum’s workers any questions. They were extremely friendly and welcoming to our group of foreigners. If you are interested in history, I would definitely recommend this museum. It’ll interest not only car enthusiasts, but also anyone looking for a different view from which to examine Soviet history.
Michael Smeltzer has degrees in Russian Language and Philosophy from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He has previously studied abroad in Irkutsk and is currently spending an academic year in Vladivostok as part of SRAS’s Home and Abroad program.