Saratov Regional Museum of Local Lore (SOMK) is among the oldest ones in the Volga Region. December the 12th (24), 1886, is considered to be its foundation date: Saratov Scientific Archive Board (SSAB) was organized then, with a historical-archaeological museum as an associated part. Some of the exhibits were first presented to the public in 1889, in the science-art department at the Saratov agricultural exhibition. A year later, they were demonstrated at a scientific-industrial exhibition in Kazan.
Being a major museum corporation, the SOMK acts as an important scientific-methodical center of local lore and museum studies for the regional museum network; it comprises 10 branches, belongs to the Association of Russia’s museums, and is among the founders of the Union of Russia’s museums. Since 1930, the Museum occupies a building that is regarded among the brightest monuments of the XIX century Russian classicism.
The museum fund comprises about 400 thousand items: extensive archaeological, ethnographical, paleontological, entomological collections, herbaria, photos, documents, hand-written and early printed books, coins and medals, religious items, posters, paintings, materials on the history of political, economical, social and cultural settings in Saratov.
Visitors are especially interested in the memorial collections that have to do with Yu. Gagarin, the first astronaut, O.K. Antonov, an aircraft designer, N.I. Vavilov, an outstanding researcher in the sphere of genetics, A.G. Schnittke, a composer, L.A. Kassil, an author, actors - B.A. Babochkin, O.P Tabakov, O.I. Yankovskij. The Museum owns a unique collection relevant to the life and activities of P.A. Stolypin – a Governor of Saratov and one of the most prominent Russian Prime Ministers. It hosts rare materials on the 1921 famine in the Volga Region and the world only YaK-1 combat aircraft.
The exhibits are laid out in thirty rooms. These represent the diverse nature and history of the region from the ancient time to the present. New exhibitions are demonstrated annually. Regular historical, ethnographical, folklore, archaeological and naturalist expeditions add to the museum collections. Donations from all kinds of organizations and individuals replenish its funds, as well.