T. Evseev National Museum of the Mari El Republic, Yoshkar-Ola

A trip to Yoshkar-Ola, the gorgeous capital of Russia’s Mari El Republic, would be incomplete without a visit to T. Evseev National Museum of the Mari El Republic, the largest museum in the region whose rare exhibits introduce visitors to the history and culture of the Mari people.

Evseev National Museum is over 100 years old, having been founded in 1920 at a local pedagogical college. The museum is named after its founder, a Russian ethnographer named Timofey Evseev whose research in Mari El was an invaluable contribution to the study and preservation of Mari culture. For more than 10 years, exhibits were displayed in various locations without having a permanent place of their own, and it was only in 1932 that a former church was allocated as a permanent home for the museum collections.

In 1946, the museum was renamed Mari Museum of Local Lore and was relocated to its current locale, a 1903 building which had initially served as a detention center. In 1960, large-scale reconstruction efforts led to the addition of a 3rd floor and a right wing. During 21st-century renovations in Yoshkar-Ola, the museum’s exterior was decorated with national Mari ornamentation and the walls of the upper-floor windows embellished with original designs. Over the years, the status of the museum has changed from central to regional, and in August 1992 it was awarded its current title of National Museum of the Mari El Republic.

The museum contains over two hundred artifacts, including many rare archaeological, historical and ethnographic collections. Highlights include Mari handicrafts, clothing and jewelry, as well as local coins and household items. Fauna and landscapes of Mari El national parks are displayed in another hall, including many birds and mounted animals.

T. Evseev National Museum of the Mari El Republic remains the region’s leading scientific and information center. The museum conducts regular scientific research both in the republic and abroad, and is known for hosting international and regional conferences. Expositions from Mari El National Museum have been exhibited on more than one occasion in Estonia, Hungary and Finland.