Kulikovo Battlefield Museum
The Kulikovo Battlefield Museum with its exhibition “The Tale of Mamai’s Defeat. A New Interpretation” was launched in October 2016. This is the heart of the Museum, which was created from scratch on the field of the battle. There is now a visitor centre, ethnographic village with comfortable guest houses, cascade of ponds and camping grounds, and most importantly the Museum itself: a huge exhibition space occupying 2,000 m2 plus a further 300m2 for temporary exhibitions.
The new museum was designed by distinguished Russian architect Sergei Gnedovsky. The complex is built in Russian post-modern style but echoes the surrounding landscape and the history of Kulikovo Field. It brings a new Russian style to contemporary architecture.
The buildings comprising the museum seem to rise like a kurgan out of the battlefield. The interior provides a contemporary look at the Chronicle Tale of Mamai’s Defeat; it has been developed in the light of the latest science about the relations between Rus’ and the Golden Horde and is based on many years of battlefield research. The intention of the designers is that the visitor should begin with the entrance hall “A battle amongst battles”. Putting Kulikovo into global context, the entrance hall illustrates the similarities between the Battle of Kulikovo Field and other events that decided the fate of entire nations. For Russia, events that hold the same national significance were the Battle of Borodino in 1812 and the Prokhorovka (Kursk) tank battle of 1943.
The new museum presents the story of the Battle of Kulikovo on two floors. The first floor narrates the story of the 1380 battle through the written source “The Tale of Mamai’s Defeat”. This Chronicle tale is supported by genuine battlefield artefacts that have been found by archaeologists and analysed by researchers.
For a look at the scientific evidence from the battle the visitor descends literally below ground, like an archaeologist, to the lower floor. On this floor the various sections of the exhibition illustrate the multi-layered scientific research that has gone into analysing the Battle of Kulikovo, and the field itself, over many decades:
- The reconstruction of the historical landscape of the 14th century, which has helped to define the forest and steppe areas and the place where the battle took place
- The archaeology of Kulikovo Field and the search for battle relics, the burial sites of fallen warriors, images showing how the inhabitants of Kulikovo Field used to live
- Battlefield research and a visual representation of how battlefield finds from various eras have come into researchers’ hands
- Analysis of written sources and new conceptions about the warriors who fought at Kulikovo Field, and a complete set of Kulikovo Battle relics from the landowners’ collection that was lost after the 1917 revolution.
All sections of the exhibition are focused on the central exhibit: the large model of the Battle of Kulikovo. A specially constructed glass pyramid houses a reconstruction of the 14th century landscape and presents the timeline of events on 7th and 8th September 1380 – from the crossing of the Don by the Russian troops to the moment when the Ambush Regiment is just about to make its attack.
The Battle of Kulikovo occupies a special place in the ranks of famous and lesser known battles in Russian history. It has left an indelible trace on our national memory and become one of the foundation stones of the Russian state. If you want to know why the Battle of Kulikovo remains so strong in our memory after six centuries, and why Russians across the centuries have turned to it in times of great crisis as a symbol of the fight for Russia’s statehood, then come and visit our exhibition “The Tale of Mamai’s Defeat. A New Interpretation.”
The museum also features a children’s exhibition “United we stand, divided we fall”, and there are also temporary exhibitions on display.