Bizarre Kalashnikov Museum Evokes the Cult of Lenin

You can take Russia out of the Soviet Union, but you can’t take the Soviet out of some Russians.

Three years ago, in celebration of Mikhail Kalashnikov’s 85th birthday, a museum was opened in the Russian city of Izhevsk to honor Kalashnikov’s most enduring gift to the world; the AK-47 submachine gun.

An entire museum dedicated to a single gun might seem rather excessive, but this isn’t just any gun; it was a brilliant piece of engineering designed to work flawlessly in the varied, extreme climates of the former Soviet Union. And it did. No other gun is as beloved by forces around the world for its reliability and durability; killing has never been so easy! The damage this gun has done in African civil wars alone is staggering.

Nonetheless, the Russians felt a museum was in order and spent $8 million dollars to build a sparkling new edifice in Kalashnikov’s hometown.

Not being a gun fan, I haven’t made the pilgrimage to the Kalashnikov Weapons Museum and Exhibition Center, but have spent the last 30 minutes on an extensive virtual tour thanks to the folks at

The result was a virtual travel back in time to the Soviet era and their passion for deifying illustrious figureheads. The museum contains bronze statues of Kalashnikov, replications of his dacha, his favorite place to work at home, and the actual desk used to design the weapon. There are entire display cases dedicated to the awards he received as well as the numerous gifts from fans spanning the globe. Personal articles, black and white photographs of the great man, cases and cases of guns, as well as a strange display of Kalashnikov Vodka fill out the rest of the exhibit. This, folks, is no different than every Lenin museum I visited in the Soviet Union in 1991. Except, of course, the vodka display.

Oh, and in case this museum doesn’t quench your thirst for all things AK-47, come back to Izhevsk in a couple of years; if plans go accordingly, the city will boast the world’s first hotel designed in the shape of a gun (a Kalashnikov, of course!).