The International Steam Pages

The Moscow Polytechnical Museum, 2012

Harvey Smith was based in and around Moscow off and on from 1997 to 2014 and has now moved to St. Petersburg. Apart from this report he has also posted information on other attractions in Moscow and the rest of Russia, there are links at the bottom of the page.

This is Moscow’s version of London’s Science Museum. For the steam enthusiast it is worth going to see the 1:2 scale model of Russia’s first home-built locomotive constructed by the Cherepanovs. Although there are at least 2 replicas and 2 1:1 models / statues of this machine in Russia they are not in Moscow. Moreover, the museum has other treasures tucked away. Fortunately many of the exhibits of the museum are annotated in English. The museum is about to close for refurbishment. In addition, another new building of the museum will open near Moscow University.

To get to the present museum simply go to Kitai Gorad metro station of the orange and pink lines. The museum is sign posted from the railway platforms. As you come out the station take the centre exit from the underpass. The museum sits on an island in the street. It is a beautiful pre-revolutionary building with a very pure Russian facade.

The Russian only website is here.

Directions are here

This website of a professional model making company shows some of the exhibits presently missing from the museum.

I do not endorse the modellmix company at all. However, the website gives a useful insight into what will be on display in the new museum.

The museum is “quirky”. For instance, I still wonder how a telephone from Aberystwyth found its way to a Moscow museum. There is much to interest a Briton, for instance a 1914 Sunbeam aircraft engine and a 1914 Humber motorcycle to name but just two items. The Soviet Union’s first nuclear bomb and various items from space exploration are also on display. Sadly the museum only has models of steam locomotives and engines not the real thing. However, I did hand the administrator a note and details of locomotive P24-7 asking them to save this locomotive before it is too late. P24-7 must be the rarest narrow gauge locomotive in Russia. So the railway related content of the museum might improve. We can but hope and pray.

If you start at the transport section on the basement floor you will find 2 models of stationary engines in a glass case. On the staircase you will find a 1:10 model of electric locomotive VL22M-185. On the second floor you will find the majority of exhibits concerning steam. In the section concerning minerals and oil exploration there is a photograph of locomotive Ya-65. I like photographs of pre-revolutionary Russian locomotives, since I have trouble getting hold of such photographs and the locomotives always look so individually Russian. The annotation to this photograph is interesting. It is dated 1881 and purports to show a train with tanker trucks. No location is given. In fact the class Ya was manufactured from 1896 to 1903. The photograph shows locomotive Ya-65 parked with another locomotive behind. On the same floor you can find a magnificent large 1:25 scale model of a blast furnace installation complete with 2 models of electric locomotives and a curious diesel self-propelled hopper wagon/locomotive of a type I have never seen before. The whole model was a present for Stalin’s 70th birthday. On the same floor you will find a room with the 1:2 scale model of Cherepanovs’ locomotive. In fact, the son Miron Cherepanov studied steam locomotive construction in Great Britain. See

The room housing the model of Cherepanovs’ locomotive is a treasure trove. There are also a large 1:20 model of locomotive P36-0002, a beautiful brass 1:10 model of marine steam engine, and a fine brass and wooden model of a portable engine. These are followed by an equally fine model of a James Watt engine, who is described rather interestingly as an “English mechanic”. I apologise to any Scotsmen who might be offended. There are other fine models. Moreover, I was particularly intrigued by 2 models showing V.G. Shukhov’s boilers. The final steam model is on the top third floor in the clock and watches section. It is in a case of railway clocks and watches and is a fine brass model of 1:76 scale (my estimate) of a Prussian G 8.1 locomotive.

The photograph of locomotive Ya-65

The model of P36-0002

The model of a Prussian G8

The model of the model of Cherepanovs’ locomotive:

There are a number of full size replicas of this locomotive in the country, for examples see in Khabarovsk and one in Ekaterinburg.


Rob Dickinson