Established under Soviet rule, the Museum of Hygiene (formerly the Museum of Good Health), is dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of germs, disease, and other side-effects of filth, as well as, strangely, one of Pavlov’s dogs.
As the original museum was established in 1919 as a public health service, the current museum bears all the hallmarks of the gruesome medical practices and fears of the early 20th century. Among the glass cases full of skulls and bits of wax anatomy, there are movable glass models of a man and woman complete with a variety of internal organs for the viewing as well as some reportedly grim displays regarding the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Many of the displays regard “bad habits” and their consequences, but then oddly, the museum presents visitors with one of Pavlov’s original dogs, stuffed and displayed in a glass case trussed up by each leg just as in Pavlov’s original experiments. This scientific celebrity is presented seemingly without context.
St. Petersburg is a city rich in history, containing no shortage of museums, but the Museum of Hygiene may be the only one that offers the opportunity to view a world famous dog in the same trip as cautionary genital displays.