People eat next to a Soviet T-80 tank.
Tanks! Missiles! Cannons! Rockets and rocket launchers!
The Artillery Museum in St. Petersburg is billed as a great place to go to climb on and marvel at military equipment, and in this role, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. The place is full of fighting machines, from historical cannons to the RT-2PM Topol, a massive mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launcher, complete with (mock?) missile.
Kids, and more than a few adults, were climbing on the artillery pieces near the entrance and posing for pictures. Bunches of people walked around, checking out anti-aircraft guns, spinning Topol’s wheels, or watching a free concert set up in the middle of the outdoor museum for Museum Night.
I thought these anti-aircraft missile launchers only existed in video games.
Even cooler than the tanks, though, were the running battles in the museum’s backyard. As part of the Museum Night festivities, reenactments of Russian military history up to World War II were staged in a large treed yard, dug through with trenches and strung with barbed wire.
Sadly, we were only able to watch the World War One reenactment, but it was plenty awesome. Spectators cheered as Russian soldiers charged out of the trenches, guns spitting fire, cutting down German soldiers.
After the Russians won the battle, kids quickly ran out onto the field, looking for spent casings and mingling with the soldiers. Everbody else soon joined, check out the trenches and hopping the barbed wire. With lawsuits and such, I’m adding this to my list of things that work a bit differently in America.
We walked around after that, mingling with fake Nazi soldiers, knights with swords and shield, and even mock American soldiers from World War II, speaking Russian and some hilariously broken English.
As I wrote about yesterday, we were planning on going to a bunch of museums as part of the Museum Night event. But, as you can probably tell, we spent a whole lot of time at the Artillery Museum.
This was not entirely by choice. We had planned to start the night at Dostoevsky’s house, a museum/tribute to the famous Russian writer. But although Dostoevsky’s house was participating in Museum Night, tickets to the event were not being sold there, a fact that wasn’t in any of the Museum Night stuff we had researched online.
So we went to a Russian pizza place, and then took the metro over to Petrogradsky Island, site of the Peter and Paul Fortress, Artillery Museum, and a bunch of other museums we had planned to visit.
But the metro stop right by all the museums, the one we had planned to get off at was ремонт, or under repair—which we discovered only as our train sped through the darkened station (My roommate Tom wrote about the significance of ремонт in Russia on his blog.). We got off at the next station, still on Petrogradsky Island, but a mile walk to the museums.
Luckily, getting off at that station earned me my first picture with Lenin, which pretty much made the walk worthwhile.
Me and Lenin. In Russia, people don't smile for pictures.