Professor N.E. Zhukovsky Scientific Memorial Museum
Within these walls, the iconic phrase of the great scientist who lifted Russia to the skies, Nikolai Egorovich Zhukovsky, was first uttered: “Man flies, relying not on the strength of his muscles, but on the strength of his mind.”
The place where aviation was born
Ulitsa Radio, building 17... Today, it houses a demonstration, sweeping in terms of its breadth and scope, of the entire history of domestic aviation — from the first human attempts to reach the skies to calculations jotted on paper to exquisitely beautiful, perfectly constructed, state-of-the-art models of “iron birds.” But there was a time when the building served an entirely different purpose. Built in the late 18th Century, it frequently changed owners, witnessing many twists and turns of fate. It housed a commodity warehouse, a butcher shop, a haberdashery and even a tavern. It was only in 1914 that the building that would go on to house the Professor N.E. Zhukovsky Museum began to turn ever so slightly towards its true calling, and the two-storey mansion was converted into a dormitory for the pilots attending courses at the Moscow Imperial Technical Academy and the site of classes for the aeronautical study group led by Professor N.E. Zhukovsky. Today’s renowned Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy is the successor to these early courses.
The scientist decided to go beyond sporadic lessons, and in 1918 he contacted the High Council of National Economics with a request “for permission to occupy the building for work associated with the science-and-technology department of the aerohydrodynamic section.” It was at this time that work commenced on the “development of a practical plan for the establishment of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, the drafting of its founding charter, and the formulation of a procedure for expanding its operations.” Thus, the fate of the building was sealed, and mansion № 17 on Ulitsa Radio became the first building of TsAGI (Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute). It is here that our nation’s aviation industry was born. This is the place where young and irrepressible aviation engineers made their first attempts at the planning and design of gliders, aerosleighs and airplanes. It was at this time that they began conducting experiments, attempting to solve all of the related tasks arising in their path — from questions of dynamic shock on hydraulic pipes to the movement of sun spots. They worked tirelessly and with great devotion, never imagining that within several decades, the planes they designed would go on to account for virtually the entire aviation fleet of Soviet Russia, that sculptures of their likenesses would adorn the cities of the Motherland, that streets would be named in their honor, that their apartments would be transformed into museums, or that their professor would come to be known as “the father of Russian aviation.”
In this very building, N.E. Zhukovsky imparted great knowledge and fortitude to his students, and to Russia — dozens of outstanding minds and the ability to soar above the clouds. A.N. Tupolev, B.S. Stechkin, A.A. Archangelsky, S.A. Chaplygin, B.N. Yuriev, V.P. Vetchinkin and many other founders and disciples of domestic science and advanced aviation equipment were formed here, in building № 17 on Ulitsa Radio. Thus, it comes as no surprise that it was precisely this structure that was chosen as the site of the memorial complex. USSR Council of Ministers Resolution “On Immortalizing the Memory of N.E. Zhukovsky on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Day of His Birth” was issued in 1947, and in January of 1956, the ceremonial opening of the Professor N.E. Zhukovsky Scientific Memorial Museum finally took place. Its creation featured the active participation of one of Zhukovsky’s faithful students, the Chief Designer and Academy of Sciences Member A.N. Tupolev, Academy of Sciences Members S.A. Khristianovich and M.V. Keldysh, and Distinguished Cultural Worker of the USSR and Russia, N.M. Semenova. Two years after its official opening, the entrance to the building was installed with a bronze bust of N.E. Zhukovsky fashioned by the prominent sculptor G.V. Neroda.
The museum encompasses everything, from originals of the theoretical works of N.E. Zhukovsky himself to models of modern civil aircraft and fighter jets, from mock-ups of the first wind tunnels to models of rockets and manmade satellites, from old photographs, paintings and sculptures of the geniuses of Russian aviation to watercolor studies and the self-portraits in oil created by the famed pilot Andrei Yumashev. At the same time, the memorial building, in terms of both outward and inward appearance, has maintained its old-Moscow look: once inside, you can still sense the life-force of aviation science at the start of the 20thCentury, created by Russian engineers and designers, enthusiasts and trailblazers — representatives of Russia’s abundantly rich history and culture.
And so, anyone wishing to take a first-hand look at the birth and evolution of “flying” Russia, experience the secret behind the monumentally-historic discoveries, fateful decisions and ground-breaking achievements of aviation science and technology, and sense the majesty of a time when the thought of flight was still audacious and full of the unknown, should come to the five halls found at the Professor N.E. Zhukovsky Scientific Memorial Museum.
The first such hall contains a unique assembly of the research biography of N.E. Zhukovsky. Most of the works are original collections published in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. At that time, the works of N.E. Zhukovsky represented a true breakthrough in aviation science, both at home and abroad. Many of his collections have been translated and published in foreign countries.
Proceeding to the next hall, one is struck by its special ambience: century-old photographs hung around the entire perimeter, letters by N.E. Zhukovsky to his mother and sister, and important historical documents,carefully preserved in special glass-topped display cases. It was in this room that the future gurus of Russian aviation pursued their work. The young, as-yet anonymous students attending the courses given by N.E. Zhukovsky sat at this very desk, in these very chairs — sat and created, making great discoveries.
The next three halls gradually introduce us to the creation of the experimental research framework of Russian aviation, the organization and first operating years of TsAGI, and the status of the institute and the broader Soviet aviation industry in the pre-war years and during the Great Patriotic War (World War II). In the last hall, the blistering-fast machines of the era of jet-propelled aviation development have been arranged compactly, one after the other.
The museum houses a total of more than 500,000 exhibits: models of virtually all Russian airplanes, helicopters and gliders, early rockets, mock-ups of manmade satellites (including the very first), spacecraft, and models of aviation and rocket engines. There are also some true masterpieces that can only be seen here: an actual glider designed by Otto Lilienthal, acquired by N.E. Zhukovsky during his trip to Germany in1895, a model of the Ilya Muromets, an airplane designed by the renowned aviation engineer I.I. Sikorsky, fabricated at the Russko-Baltiysky Plant in 1915, and the two-dimensional wind tunnel built at the Imperial Technical Academy back in 1910 under the leadership of A.N. Tupolev.
The Professor N.E. Zhukovsky Scientific Memorial Museum is an indispensable meeting place for figures in the domestic aviation industry. It regularly hosts exhibitions, lectures, commemoration meetings, anniversary celebrations, and much more.
Museum employees also ensure the preservation and safekeeping of the interior and exhibits of the apartment-museum of Sergei Alexeevich Chaplygin — a student of N.E. Zhukovsky and great scientist in his own right, who advanced the life’s work of the “father of Russian aviation.” The apartment-museum is located in the Chistiye Prudy District of Moscow, at 1 Ulitsa Chaplygina, Apartment 37.
Tours of the Professor N.E. Zhukovsky Scientific Memorial Museum and apartment museum of S.A. Chaplygin are conducted by advance booking
Address of the N.E. Zhukovsky Museum: 17 Ulitsa Radio, Moscow.
Telephone numbers for advance tour bookings:
Museum director: 916-90-91, ext. 41-85, attendant: 916-90-91 ext. 42-30.
Opening hours: weekdays, from 10:00 to 16:00.
From metro station “Krasniye Vorota,” take trolley № 24 to the “Ul. Radio” stop.
From metro station “Baumanskaya,” take trams №№ 50, 37, 45 to the “MGTU” stop.
From metro station “Aviamotornaya,” take trolley № 24 to the “Ul. Radio” stop. Trams №№ 50, 37 to the “Ul. Radio” stop.
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