The Popov museum in St Petersburg is the principal museum of communications in Russia and supervises similar institutions in other parts of the Russian Federation. It takes its name from the Russian physicist Alexander Stepanovich Popov (1859-1906), known principally for his work in radio communications. It is one of three museums (the others being the State Historical Museum and the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow) founded after the Moscow Polytechnic Exhibition of 1872.
The museum occupies an eighteenth-century palace, designed by the Venetian architect Giacomo Quarenghi (1747-1817) which was formerly the home of Alexander Bezborodko (1747-99), the imperial chancellor. The exhibitions were radically re-ordered in 2001-03 and now include many interactive displays.
The museum was originally concerned with telegraphs, but began to collect artefacts relating to postal services in 1884, and subsequently became concerned with telephones, radio and television in Russia and the USSR. It holds some eight million artefacts, including four million stamps, and the museum itself was depicted on stamps issued in celebration of Radio Day in 1960. Its collections include Popov’s first radio receiver of 1895, the cathode ray tube of 1925 designed by Bris Grabovsky (1901-66) and made at the Svetlana factory in St Petersburg, and telegraph equipment of 1832 by Pavel Shilling (1786-1837) and of 1850 by Boris Yakobi (1801-74).