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Oceania in Russian history: expeditions, collections, museums




Govor, Elena

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Sidestone Press


Although Oceanic collections in Russia are not the richest in Europe, they are among the most valuable. In total Oceanic and Australian artefacts in these collections number nearly 9,000 items, the majority originating from the South Pacific.245 Many of them, especially those of Russian voyagers, were acquired during early cross-cultural engagements and have well established geographical and temporal provenance. Russian interest in the Pacific was determined by the fact that by the eighteenth century Russia was both a European and a Pacific power. As a result of the gradual Russian colonization of Siberian territories, its first settlements on the Pacific coast, Okhotsk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, were established in the eighteenth century. Expansion continued to the northwest coast of America, where the Russian-American Company established its colonies, known as Russian America, at the end of the eighteenth century. By the beginning of the nineteenth century these colonies attracted the first Russian commercial ships sailing from Europe across the Pacific with supplies. Russia’s footing in the northern Pacific also prompted exploratory expeditions ranging across the Pacific, especially during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Interest in Oceania continued in the second half of the nineteenth century, when Russia had a Pacific naval detachment stationed in Vladivostok, which regularly visited the South Pacific islands and Australia as part of training exercises.






Book chapter

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Pacific Presences: Oceanic Art and European Museums - volume 1

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Open Access via publisher website

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Restricted until