History of the Section

Entomological collections kept in the Cabinet of Natural History at the end of XVIII century were completely destroyed because of the Moscow Fire in 1812. However, judging by inventory of that time, they included representatives of 711 insect species, both European and tropical.

The entomological section of the reborn Cabinet was established by famous G.I. Fischer von Waldheim, due to whom the insect collections grew up to 20 thousand specimens by the 1830s. It was enriched by excellent entries delivered by I. Eschscholz and H. Steven that included type specimens. Also of great value were insects collected by G. Karelin in Siberia and studied by famous K. Brehm, as well as tropical beetles obtained from G. Mnishek, A. Doria, M. Chodoire, K. Renar. These entries included not small number of specimens of rare species. Entomological collections of the Museum counted about 50 thousand specimens by 1864.

Huge collections of insects came from A. Fedchenko's expedition to Turkestan during several decades of the second half of 19th century. Essential input to the collections was due to several explorers of Central Russia supported by the Commission for the Fauna of Moscow Government during the early 20th century. Of great importance was V. Mochulsky's private collection that came to the Museum at those times, it included nearly 60 thousand insect specimens and about 4 thousand types from all most significant taxa and regions over the World.

A group of young entomologists was formed at the Department of Zoology and at the Museum in the beginning of the 1920s. It was headed by E.S. Smirnov, and its most active members were B.B. Roddendorff, B.S. Kuzin, A.N. Zhelokhovtsev. The insect collections were growing so rapidly during those years that a need for a special storage of the specimens on the cotton “beds” appeared. This kind of collection materials became quite large and it is stored now in 25 special cages.

The period after the War was characterized by extensive field works in various parts of the USSR. Very large collections were coming from Lower Volga Regions due to D.V. Panfilov, G.A. Viktorov, G.A. Mazokhin-Porshnyakov, L.V. Zimina, A.V. Alekseev. In the 1950s and later years, the members and subsequently leaders of Moscow school of entomology, mainly disciples of Smirnov and Roddendorff, became most active insect collectors and donators: these were E.M. Antonova, A.P. Rasnitsyn, V.V. Zherikhin, V.G. Kovalev, etc.

Collecting in entomology was greatly activated in the 1970s due to the International Entomological Congress held in Moscow in 1968. This activity was supported in large by specialists that became the members of the Division staff in the 1970s. Due to their field works, the Division was enriched by extensive and very qualified collections from Amur Region, European Russia, Middle Asia.

The well known collection of A.V. Tsvetayev was donated to the Museum in the 1980s, it was the largest private collection in the USSR and contained more than 84 thousand butterfly specimens. Besides, A.V. Bogachev's collections including beetles, butterflies, and hymenopterans is to be mentioned. Several important collections came from tropical regions due to donations of the Museum friends both in Russia and in other countries (for instance, from V.N. Alin in Brazil).