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Culture news, 03.10.2008 07:19

St. Petersburg Honors Peter the Greatís Scottish Doctor

A memorial plaque in honor of Scottish natural scientist Robert Erskine (1677-1718), the founder of the legendary Kunstkamera, the cityís first museum renowned for its unique collection of curiosities, was opened Thursday at the Lazarevsky burial-vault of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

The ceremony was attended by the Edinburghís Lord Provost George Grubb, who is currently on an official visit to St. Petersburg

Erskine, who left Great Britain to move to St. Petersburg in 1704, more than 300 years go, was originally invited to treat Peter the Great and shortly went on to become one of the most influential and sought after foreign doctors ever to serve at the Russian court. The medic, who served as Peter the Greatís principal physician, who ran the Kunstkamera and its vast library and chaired the imperial Apothecary, played a crucial role in the formation of Russian medicine and natural sciences.

The first-ever memorial to Erskine was unveiled on Sept. 8, 2006, in his hometown of Alva, Scotland.

The Kunstkamera (also known as the Anthropology and Ethnography Museum) was founded in 1714 on the orders of Peter the Great. It is the oldest purpose-built museum in Russia, now housing over one million exhibits.

The ethnographical section includes sections on peoples from around the world including Inuit tribes, Pueblo Indians, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Japan, Africa and Australia.

In the central rotunda, which was originally an anatomy theater, there is a collection of fetuses pickled in jars.

The museumís blue and white Baroque building also once contained an observatory with an early planetarium created by the scientist and poet Mikhail Lomonosov.

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