One of the most important collections of Darwin museum is the one of Lyrurus with color variations. Part of it is the heritage of Friedrich Lorenz's taxidermic laboratory, some were bought from hunters on the special market, six birds were donated by The Polytechnic Museum. Alexander Kohts traded some exhibits for the collection of such birds of V. Andreevsky, collected in mid 19th century and which belonged to St. Petersburg University. A few years earlier the regional natural history museum of Yekaterinburg donated a collection of Lyrurus with color variations and their hybrids. Today this collection comprises over 600 specimens and is frequently replenished.
One of the unique exhibits of Darwin Museum collection of birds is the taxidermied great auk (Pinguinus impennis) - a species of extinct flightless alcid that used to inhabit islands in the North Atlantic – as well as several taxidermied extinct passenger pigeons, which once used to be one of the most common birds in North America. Another most valuable specimen is the skeleton of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus) - an extinct flightless bird that was endemic to the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
The Museum’s collection of birds was replenished with donations from private collectors, as well as scientific expeditions of the Museum’s employees. For example, Darwin museum’s collection of birds 167 nests and 661 eggs used to belong to a private collector and was donated to the museum by his relatives after the owner had passed away.
Darwin museum is also proud of its collection of the birds-of-paradise, comprising 178 specimens. It is considered as the best in Russia. The Hummingbirds is also one of the best in Russia and consists of 558 taxidermied birds.
Most of the taxidermied mammals were also inherited from the Friedrich Lorenz's taxidermic laboratory. The materials for taxidermy mounts were bought from hunters or on the special market.
Since 1917 a great number of animal furs with color variations were frequently supplied by Soyuzpushnina – a State Fur Auction, where such furs were considered as faulty goods while being highly valued by the Museum. Alexander Kohts gave a couple of lectures for the Soyuzpushnina’s employees, mainly to explain his interest in such materials and educate the workers about its scientific value. Today this collection comprises 178 taxidermied mounts and 149 furs. The mentioned cooperation lasted until 1984.
One of the most valuable parts of the Entomology collection is the collection of butterflies. It includes the precious specimens of butterflies collected on a New Guinea by a renowned English bird collector and naturalist Albert Stewart Meek, as well as in French Guiana by Eugène Le Moult, a French naturalist and entomologist specialised in butterflies. All specimens are well preserved and labeled. In the 1970s a private collection of about 500 butterflies collected in the Far East, Zabaykalsky Krai, and Soviet Central Asia was donated to Darwin museum. In 2004 the museum’s collection was replenished by a private one containing over 2 500 specimens of Swallowtail butterflies.
Museum has always been working on Entomology collection replenishment, buying from collectors and naturalists, attempting to gather various species in order to make it the most complete.
From the very beginning the founders of Darwin museum were working on forming a collection of Fine Arts, comprising paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Alexander Kohts worked with some of the best Russian animalist artists, who later became the museum’s employees and formed a school of contemporary animalistic art in Russia. These artworks were to accompany the exhibition and to illustrate the life of the taxidermied animals in the wild.
Today the collection is regularly being replenished with the works by modern animalist artists.
The Rare Books collection contains such precious books as “Historia animalium” by Conrad Gessner, twelve volumes by Ulisse Aldrovandi, numerous editions of Charles Darwin’s works published during his life and translated into different languages. Many of these books were bought during the trip to Europe in 1913 of the Darwin museum founders – Alexander Kohts and his spouse Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts.
A significant part of mollusc collection – 7 479 specimens – were donated to Darwin museum by a visually impaired private collector Konstantin Gaydenko in the 1980s. Most of the specimens are tropical species and were obtained via exchange with collectors from abroad. Some of the specimens are of great scientific value as they are very rare and often poorly represented in museums and private collections around the world.
Today the collection is regularly being replenished.