The Museum of Don Cossacks History is one of the oldest museums in the South of Russia. It was opened owing to “the Don old times fancy” initiative, November 22, 1899. The museum’s first director was Khariton Ivanovich Popov. The building was constructed especially for the museum purposes by the academic of architecture A. Yatshenko’s project. Civil charity funds and the Don Army chest sponsored the construction. Several collections (for example, ancient coins) were presented for the museum’s grand opening. All the Don Cossack villages participated at the expositions assembling. “The Church and Historic Society” and its “depository of antiquity”, established in 1904, contributed to the museum fund enriching.
During the Civil War period, at the end of 1919, the Don White Army retreated to Novorossiysk, and many of the Don Museum and Don Achieve precious displays were urgently placed into boxes and taken away from town. At the time, the Museum achieve was severely damaged and plundered.
During the Soviet period, the museum exhibition theme changed to reflect “social realism”, the Don land revolution and Civil war, the Don Region economic development, habits and ways of the “Red Army Cossacks”.
Before the Great Patriotic War period, the museum was reestablished as the regional museum of Don Cossacks History (the only museum of the kind in the world). During the town occupation by the German Nazi troops, many displays, including paintings by famous European artists, were transported to Germany. Some of the displays, taken away at the period, were returned to the museum fund from Prague only in 1947.
December 1999, the Museum celebrated 100-years anniversary of foundation and opening, at present, the museum director is Sedinko Svetlana Alekseevna. By the time, the local authorities carried out works on museum building redecoration, exposition renovation and anniversary materials publishing.
The contemporary Novocherkassk Museum of Don Cossacks History is an integral museum complex, possessing precious reliquiae, reflecting the glorious history and traditions of Don Cossacks. The museum vast collection is unique in the world and comprises over 115 thousand displays.
The museum takes pride of the world unique collection of the Cossack banners, regiment colors and horsetails of 18th-19th century. The museum has a peculiar collection of antique steels and guns, the Honor Armory of the Don Cossack Army generals and officers. The museum most remarkable collection is devoted to the legendary Don Cossack ataman, Hero of the Patriotic War 1812, founder of Novocherkassk, Matvei Ivanovich Platov.
The Museum owns a vast collection of paintings, including the works by the academic of painting N.N. Dubovskoy, who was born in Novocherkassk, works by the Russian Painters-Itinerants, European paintings and graphics of the 16th – 18th centuries, the world unique collection of the Cossacks’ portraits of the 18th century “The Don Portrait”, the “royalty” portraits collection. The Museum has a large scientific library; the rare books fund comprises more than 15 thousand units. The most precious part of the collection is 80 black letter books of the 16th – 18th century.
The Don Cossack glorious past, patriotism and uniqueness is reflected at the museum exposition, presenting military awards and Honored armory of general A.M. Kaledin, the Don Cossacks, who participated in the Russian-Japanese war, and in the imperialistic war of 1914 – 1918.
The museum branches are represented by the military theme painter M.B. Grekov' s house museum (since 1956), the landscape painter I.I. Krylov’s memorial house museum (since 1979), the Novocherkassk poet V.V. Kalmykov’s museum (since 1988).
The other distinctive part of the museum complex is the Ataman Palace (since 2001), the official Don Cossack atamans’ residence, the architectural and historic monument of the 19th century, the contemporary museum “The Ataman Palace”.
The Novocherkassk Museum for years has been engaged in various scientific, research, exhibition and publishing activities. The digest publishing of the scientific works by the museum workers “The Local Lore Notes”, and the scientific conferences, devoted to the Don land history theme are held yearly on the regular basis.
Every year the museum presents more than 30 exhibitions, most of them are based on the museum fund collections, such as: “The Don Museum 100th Anniversary” (devoted to the anniversary), “Revival”, (devoted to the 10 years of the Cossack tradition revival on the Don land), “The Cossack Kin of the Millerovs”, “The Don Portrait”, “Spirit in Painting” (museum icons collection exhibition), “The Don Steppe Chanter” (devoted to the 140th anniversary of I.I. Krylov’s birth), etc.
In the collaboration with other regional museums, the Novocherkassk Museum of the Don Cossacks History exhibited rare fund displays (I-II b.c.) at the world famous exhibition “The Amazon Gold”, held in France in 2001. The museum keeps in touch with the Cossacks communities in Canada, France, Germany. The Novocherkassk museum is a member of the federal program “Culture of Russia”. More than 150 thousand visitors attend and more than 2 thousand excursions are held at the museum every year.