By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
The first museums in Azerbaijan opened at the beginning of the last century. Today, in the country, there are over 250 public and private museums. Visiting museums will allow tourists to learn more about Azerbaijani culture and history, as well as get extra pleasure from the trip.
Among the metropolitan museums, there are several free ones, an overview of which we bring to your attention.
Nobel Brothers House Museum
House Museum of Nobel Brothers in Baku opened in 2008. This is the only Nobel museum outside of Sweden. Restoration of the Villa Petrolea complex, built by Nobel brothers in 1884, was one of the important steps of the Baku Nobel Heritage Foundation, established in 2003 by famous Azerbaijani philanthropist Toghrul Baghirov in cooperation with the Nobel Family Society, an organization that officially represents the interests of the whole family.
The villa was built by famous Swedish architect Lindvall in the Byzantine style, using local limestone and wood. The Bells telephone and air conditioning system were installed in the house for the first time in Baku and the region.
In the renewed Ville Petroleum and the museum there are a lot of artifacts, family valuables, works of art of famous masters. A number of exhibits were purchased from the heirs of the Nobel brothers (there are more than 400 of them now), from private collectors and in antique stores in Europe.
Villa Petrolea was a residential settlement built by Nobel brothers at the end of the 19th century for employees of their company in the suburb of Baku. On the territory of the village, houses for employees, schools, hospitals and the family residence of Nobel brothers were built.
Admission is free.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday from 11:00 to 17:00. Non-working days - Saturday and Sunday.
Address: Baku, Nobels Avenue, 57/2, Villa Petrolea.
Natural History Museum named after Zardabi
The next is Natural History Museum named after Hasan bay Zardabi. Stepping over the threshold of this museum, visitors immediately fall into another world. Here, representatives of the rich nature of Azerbaijan are looking at you from behind the windows and from the stands. This is a park of wonders, concentrated in a small, but very cozy and well-kept pavilion, where parents often bring their children.
The museum has two departments: geological, where samples of ore and non-metallic minerals, minerals and rocks of Azerbaijan are presented and zoological. The main fund of the museum contains more than 1,400 various exhibits. In the expositions and showcases of the biological department, a part of the numerous skeletons and fragments of animal bones found during the expeditionary period and processed by researchers in different years were put for display. The oldest exhibit is the ichthyosaur teeth from the Cretaceous period, which are more than 120 million years old.
Scientific studies of the Natural History Museum have developed in several directions, mainly on paleontological objects. The main ones are: the study of the Binagadin Quaternary and Eldar Late Sarmatian hipparion fauna, the Pirekishkul higher vertebral fauna, numerous sites of the primitive people of the Azykh cave, etc.
The museum also features the upper jaw, tusks and teeth of a southern elephant that lived 600,000 years ago and was discovered in 2001 in Mingachevir city of Azerbaijan.
Admission is free.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00. Non-working days - Sunday and Monday.
Address: Baku, Lermontov Street, 3.
State Museum of Agriculture
The third one is Azerbaijan State Museum of Agriculture which was opened in 1924 as an exhibition of achievements of the national economy. The museum introduces the history of agricultural development in Azerbaijan and reflects its current situation.
The museum exposition covers various branches of agriculture: plant growing, animal husbandry, gardening. Here you can get acquainted with the crops that are grown in different regions of Azerbaijan, areas of animal husbandry, the production of agricultural products, pest control.
A total of 10,000 exhibits are presented in the museum. The museum features agricultural tools, both traditional and modern, models of harvesting machines and combines. A number of exhibits are devoted to ethnography: documents and photographs, various installations, reflecting the traditional way of rural life.
Admission is free.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday from 09:00 to 17:00. Non-working days - Saturday and Sunday.
Address: Baku, Darnagul highway, 30/97.
Museum of Miniature Books
Finally, the Baku Museum of Miniature Books which is the only museum of miniature books in the world, settled in the old part of Baku, called Inner City. The museum started its operation on April 2, 2002. In 2015, the Museum of Miniature Books was presented the Certificate of the Guinness Book of Records as the largest private museum of miniature books.
The collection contains miniature books published in post-revolutionary Russia and in the Soviet period.
There are books in the exposition from several countries including Moldavia, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and from the republics of Middle Asia and Europe. There are many rare editions including those of Chukovsky, Barto, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, and works of Pushkin. Miniature books of the famous Azerbaijani classics, such as Vagif, Khurshidbanu Natavan, Nizami Ganjavi, Nasimi, Fizuli, Samed Vurgun, Mirza Fatali Akhundov and others are exhibited in the museum.
Other notable miniatures in this collection include a 17th-century copy of the Quran, a 13th-century book published by Peter Schöffer (successor to Johannes Gutenberg).
Visitors can also see rare ancient religious books in the museum. The age of the books in the museum is more than 100. The most ancient book is the Quran which was published in Saudi Arabia in 1672. Furthermore, there is a miniature book which consists of the songs of ''Beatles'' music group. New publications are regularly added to the collection in the museum.
Most of the books in the Azerbaijani section are about the country's present and former presidents. There are also miniature books dedicated to the life of U.S. former president Barack Obama and Turkish nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Admission is free.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday (except Thursday) from 11:00 to 17:00
Address: Baku, 67 Gala turn I, Icherisheher
So, for curious tourists who are passionate about history of place where they travel, these museums represent perfect opportunity to get acquainted with history of Azerbaijan and get goosebumps when they see some piece of ancient art or hear a wondering story of each artifact.
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