The Kalashnikov Museum was opened in the city of Izhevsk, Russia on November 4, 2004 - one week prior to the AK-47 designer's 85th birthday as a gift for his anniversary. The budget of the project exceeded US$8,000,000.
The Russian press commented that "Kalashnikov had received a most expensive gift, and had become the "wealthiest" Russian", but Kalashnikov, being a man of tact, always stresses that "this palace doesn't glorify me, it glorifies the gunsmiths of Izhevsk".
As for "…the most expensive gift" - there was another gift made on the day the museum opened. This is a gift that Kalashnikov "just couldn't believe", a gift that for Kalashnikov overshadowed even having a museum in his name - take the tour to find out what it was .
This virtual tour is the very first guide on the subject - up to the present (July 2006), no other catalogue of the museum's collection is available, either in Russian or other languages, in print or in electronic format.
With 327 high resolution photos, zoom-enabled for closer inspection, this virtual tour guides you throughout the exhibitions of a museum devoted to the designs and weapons of one of the most famous firearms engineers in history, Mikhail Kalashnikov, and also allows you to explore the story of his life.
By clicking on the sequential images, you're effectively "moving" through the exhibition and occasionally stopping to get a closer look, seeing things on display just as you would if you were walking down the museum's exhibition hall.
We make it possible for people to view the museum and its exhibits from their computer - it's virtually like you've been there.
Currently, guided on-site tours to the museum are provided only in Russian - so, if you were to visit Izhevsk, but you don't know Russian, you'd need to bring an interpreter along with you to the museum to understand what the tour guide is saying.
The purpose behind this virtual tour is to provide a richly illustrated tour in English, a language that is accessible to many of the world's people who are interested in all things Kalashnikov.
We have devoted significant effort into taking and organizing the photographs and providing commentary. Some photos can stand alone, without additional explanation - generally, these are the close-up views of artifacts.
In terms of content, we didn't venture much beyond the scope of the regular guided tour that can be taken at the museum - the comments we have added are meant either to add context for understanding some of the realities of the Soviet era, or to bring some exciting factual coincidences to your attention.
The designer himself has donated to the museum photos, archives, memoirs, video materials, numerous certificates of merit and awards, and his own collection of edged weapons. At present, the museum's collection contains about 5,000 items.
However, this is not just one more weapons museum - on the contrary, visitors become acquainted with a lively, intelligent and sensitive person. There are plenty of household items on display, and voice of Mikhail Kalashnikov follows you throughout the exhibition.
Note: This virtual tour is neither endorsed nor produced by The Kalashnikov Museum. It is a private effort and presents the exposition in an informative manner without editorial comment from the staff of the Museum.
The Illustrated Virtual Guided Tour of the Museum of
Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Designer of AK-47
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Introduction: the goals and structure of this virtual tour.
- The story of the Kalashnikov Museum
- Opening of the Museum
- The "temple theme" of the Museum
- Another unbelievable birthday gift - "it's like having immortality"
- St. Mikhail Cathedral vs St. Basil the Blessed Cathedral
- The city of Izhevsk
- Street ads: The spirit of Kalashnikov - or rather spirits…Kalashnikov Vodka
- Other kinds of street ads bearing the Kalashnikov name
- The cold war is over: Levi's to the left - AK-47s to the right.
- Entering the Kalashnikov Museum
- The building itself
- What's on the ground floor
- The gift shop
- The central exhibition hall never fails to impress a visitor
- Introducing Mikhail Kalashnikov, his family, and his life prior to World War II
- The Russian "Wild East" vs the Westward Expansion of United States: a glimpse into history
- The "better life" came to abrupt end by the late 1920s
- Kalashnikov's school years
- 1933 - 1942
- Young Kalashnikov escapes from exile
- The railroad years
- WWII begins. "...this dramatic episode became a turning point for the self-taught designer, to take on the challenge of creating a weapon that would enable Russian soldiers to stand up to the enemy"
- 1942: Kalashnikov's weapon design career begins
- 1940s: Russian small arms designers and their designs
- 1940s: Hugo Schmeisser, John Garand and others
- The AK-47 is born
- 1947: the AK-47 and the 4 other most promising assault rifle designs
- Top secret documents revealed for the first time
- The experimental model that never made its way into the Army.
- Kalashnikov's work place
- Documents autographed by Kalashnikov
- The story of limited edition version of AK-47
- AK-74 / AK-100 / Saiga
- Unification of AK-47 series
- The AK-74 series
- The AK-100 series
- The Saiga / Vepr series
- More top secret documents autographed by Kalashnikov
- The Hall of Fame: Part I
- Kalashnikov's insignia and awards
- Kalashnikov's collection of edged weapons
- What Kalashnikov, Tsar Peter I The Great, the Russian Supreme Military Commander Aleksandr Suvorov, Napoleon, Wellington and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn have in common
- Publications about Kalashnikov in the Russian and foreign press
- Kalashnikov meets Eugene Stoner, Uzi Gal and Bill Ruger
- The AK-47 on the Flag of Mozambique: the story
- The Hall of Fame: Part II
- More of Kalashnikov's awards
- Licensed copies of the AK-47 are manufactured in 19 countries
- Kalashnikov's family photographs
- Civilian inventions of Kalashnikov: the lawnmower and the barbecue gadget
- The second hall of the exhibition
- Inside Kalashnikov's own apartments at the Museum
- The "Pride - Faithfulness - Duty" installation
- The Izhevsky Mekhanichesky Zavod (Baikal) exposition
- Rifles with artistic styling (threading, engraving, incrustation)
- The Izhmash exposition
- A study of Russian-made Kalashnikov Vodka
- Why Kalashnikov agreed to lend his name to a vodka brand
- Regular Kalashnikov Vodka
- Kalashnikov's 80th and 85th Anniversary Vodka
- Kalashnikov Vodka and the AK-47 Vodka in a rifle-shaped bottle
- Kalashnikov Vodka shotglasses (stopkas)
- Kalashnikov Vodka promotional posters
- A few snippets of what's coming in the next version of The Illustrated Virtual Guided Tour of the Kalashnikov Museum.
- a tour of gun shops in Izhevsk: "Saiga" (owned by Izhmash), "Okhotnik" (owned by Kalashnikov's grandson) and more.
- A tour of shooting ranges in Izhevsk
- An Izhmash museum tour
- A Peter Tchaikovsky estate tour: the famous composer was born and grew up in Udmurtia
- A sightseeing tour of Izhevsk
- A "night life of Izhevsk" tour