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Regional Museum of History and Folklore

Located within Kirov park, its presence signalled by a collection of cannons and some balbals, is the Regional Museum of History and Local Lore. Downstairs, there are displays on the nature of East Kazakhstan Region, with stuffed animal-laden dioramas, including a mountain scene featuring arkhars and marmot, a riverbank populated by wild boar, and a woodland tableau with a particularly fierce-looking wolverine, evidently grumpy after having been roused by bears blundering through the woods. A rather gory diorama shows a stuffed wolf preparing to stuff on a stuffed roe deer. There is a large stuffed Siberian deer, or maral, one of the prides of the Altai, in the centre of the room. There are collections of eggs, pickled reptiles and dead birds. Most of the maps on display, showing off the regions climate, water resources and soils, were still at the time of research based around the regions 1997 boundaries, before the incorporation of the area around Semey. And indeed the museum more generally gives little indication of having yet embraced its wider region. Also on display is a collection of marketable furs, including wolverine, fox, wolf, squirrel, muskrat and Siberian mole.

Upstairs, the displays continue with archaeology, including descriptions of the excavations of Scythian kurgans in the region. There is an account of the expedition led by Sergei Chernikov at Chilikty, in Zaisan District, in 1960, with copies of some of the beautiful gold jewellery, in the form of animals such as deer, uncovered from the barrows. A model of one of the Chilikty kurgans is also on display. There is also coverage of the kurgans at Berel in the Altai Mountains. A recreation of a Bronze Age burial uncovered near the village of Zevakino includes a skeleton surrounded by various possessions: jewellery, weaponry, stirrups. An archaeological map of the region shows the wealth of petroglyphs, kurgans and stone sculptures to be found across East Kazakhstan. An ethnographic display, centred on a part of the room decked out to resemble a yurt, includes costumes, saddles and household items.

Another room is dedicated to the history of Ust-Kamenogorsk, with an odd collection of items in the centre of the room: an anchor from a riverboat, a model of the Pokrovsky Cathedral and a Singer sewing machine. There is a pastel drawing of Major Likharev, founder of the town, long of hair and narrow of moustache. There are photographs of the working of gold-bearing sands and of the bee-keeping industry at the start of the 20th century. A bee-keeper's hat is on display, as are some school exercise books from the 19th century, with painstakingly executed geometrical drawings. The history of the ferry companies on the Irtysh, whose operations provided a vital transport artery, is chronicled. There is a gramophone, samovars and wall clocks, relics of life in Tsarist Ust- Kamenogorsk. A side room covers World War II, with patriotic posters, descriptions of the exploits of those from the region awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, and a boy's-own diorama of a snow-covered battle scene during the fighting for Stalingrad.

The displays continue downstairs with coverage of the post-independence period, including products from the region. There is also a small room devoted to local artists and writers, such as Efim Permitin, who set up the hunting journal Altai Hunter in 1923. He is photographed out hunting, a couple of dead birds dangling from his bag. There is a copy of one of his books on display, titled Love. Not for birds, presumably. There is also a display on local writer and naturalist Boris Sherbakov, featuring envelopes addressed to him from various international environmental organisations.