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The museum that was found in 1889 possesses items of great scientific and heritage value. The collections were formed along the time, through donations and purchases. A part of the items were displayed in different states from Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
The core of the collection was created at the end of the 19th century by Franz Ostermann, P. Zabarinski, and I. Taranin. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was enriched, annotated, and systematized by N. Zubowsky and other members of the Bessarabian Society of Naturalists and Amateurs of Natural Sciences. In the second half of the 20th century, the collection was supplemented by valuable exhibits from Moldova and a number of other countries from Europe, Asia and Africa.
The collection contains samples of rocks and minerals found in geological formations of Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic age, which reflect the geological evolution of Earth.
FOLK DRESS COLLECTION
The Collection of folk dress consists of shirts, belts, “catrințe” (peasant skirts), “bundițe” (traditional jackets), “ițari” (tight peasant trousers), “sumane” (thick long coats), headkerchiefs, aprons, skirts, shoes made by folk craftsmen, jewels and accessories for clothes. It dates from the 19th-20th centuries and contains many authentic items, made by craftswomen, as well as more recent ones, designed from industrial cloth, using however the traditional ornaments and colour range. The collection illustrates the traditions of the ethnographic zones of the Republic of Moldova, as well as of other neighbouring Romanian regions.
MOLDAVIAN CARPETS COLLECTION
The museum holds the most representative collection of Moldavian carpets (late 18th – 20th centuries). According to their functions, the character of ornamentation and the technique of designing, carpets are of several kinds: big wall-carpets (“scoarţă”, “covor”, “ungherar”, “război”, “chilim”, “rumba”, “polog” – folk names for varieties of carpets), narrow carpets that were hung on the wall, above the sofa (“păretar”, “lat”, “drum de perete”, “pilcă” – folk names for varieties of carpets), carpets for sofa or bed (“lăicer”, “cergă”, “niţurcă”, “şatrancă”). There are numerous local variants of the “lăicer” and “păretar”.
INTERIOR FABRICS COLLECTION
The interior fabrics collection witnesses a large spread and a big variety of names. These items have multiple functions. Sometimes they temporarily accomplish different roles. The collections represent the traditions of all the districts of the Republic of Moldova, as well as of neighbouring Romanian regions. Classifying them according to the material they are made of, they can be grouped into: hemp fabrics, woollen, cotton, linen and floss silk fabrics. Classifying them according to the techniques of weaving and décor, one can distinguish the following items: simple, “ridicate”, “nevedite”, “cu alesături” (traditional weaving techniques), embroidered, with ribbons, fringes and tassels. The décor of many towels, tablecloths, bed-sheets, and embroideries is completed with lace (“horboțică”).
The basis of the ethnographic collections was laid by Albina Ostermann (1892-1936). They were formed from donations and purchases. An important source were the annual agricultural exhibitions from different locations of the former Bessarabia Gubernia. Maecenas bought there the most skilful and representative ethnographic items for the museum. The republican exhibitions of folk art from 1957 and 1959, the Republican Exhibition “Women of Moldova for the Peace Fund” also contributed with new items for this section. Nowadays the ethnographic heritage comprises all the domains of the traditional culture: work-tools, household items, dress items from the 19-20th centuries, different kinds of home-made fabrics, furniture, pottery, music instruments, ritual items, historic photos etc.
The collection reflects the circulation of coins on the territory of the Republic of Moldova from Antiquity until nowadays. The numismatist A. Nudelman contributed to the investigation and assessment of treasures, during 1945-1970. The most valuable ancient coins come from the Treasure of Doroțcaia, containing silver drachmas from Histria and Tyras (4th century BC), the Treasure of Lărguța with gold staters minted by Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great (4th century BC), Roman treasures of silver siliquae of Constantius II (337-361 AD) discovered in Budăi, Orhei, and gold solidi from the Treasure of Criuleni from the 4th century, silver denarii of the 2nd century from Rotunda, Edineț.
The collection includes herbariums, seeds, and models. Of great scientific value is the herbarium dating from late 19th century, along with the herbarium of the higher plants of the Republic of Moldova (1948-1985).
The collection consists of naturalized animals, skeletons, anatomic and corrosive preparations. The foundation of the collection was laid by Franz Ostermann (during 1889-1905) who created biological groups of birds and animals. Due to them, the museum became famous in the East and West, in different countries. Franz Ostermann created and conserved corrosive preparations, anatomic, biological, embryological and physiological ones, which are unique, and were mentioned during many international exhibitions of that time. These are remarkable due to the original preparation technologies and testify to a high level of development of natural sciences in the region.
The paleontological collection is very valuable due to the diversity and the scientific value of the Neogene and Anthropogenic period in Moldova. It contains numerous witnesses of fauna and flora that disappeared long ago. The Moldavian land can be truly considered an open-air palaeontological museum. There are remarkable paleobotanical and paleozoological specimens, comprising imprints of leaves found in deposits of Lower Sarmatian age, fragments of petrified wood, fossil foraminifera from the Cretaceous and Paleogene age. Fossil vertebrate animals of Middle Sarmatian age are represented by fragments of fossil armoured (placoderms) and bony fishes, bone remains of birds and mammals. Of special value are the skeleton of a seal and the inferior shell of a soft-shelled turtle of the genus Trionix. The museum is proud to have a 10 million years old complete skeleton of a Deinotherium proavum. The collection includes also bones of animals that lived in the same time with the dinotherium, during the Neogene age: rhinoceroses, hipparions, horses, mastodons etc. From the fauna of the Tiraspol complex were preserved bones of one million years old animals: ancient elephants, rhinoceroses, bison, bears, hyenas, new species of molluscs (specific for Moldova). The geological section of the Kolkotova cliff (containing remnants of bones of these animals) is considered to be a standard of the Pleistocene in Europe. On the basis of this complex was formed the contemporary fauna of Moldova. During the Ice Age dwelled mammoths, giant deer and cave predatory animals: hyena, lion and bear. In the nearby of the Butești village (North of the republic) were found the bones of 40 bears that had dwelled 70-10 thousand years ago.