Almaty has a bewildering amount of tiny house museums fanatics can seek out, but a few larger museums are worthy of everyone’s attention.
National History Museum (Entrance: 100 tenge. Opening hours:10-18, Tuesday to Sunday, address)
Located in a yurt-shaped building across from the former Presidential Residence, the national history museum is one worth visiting if you are interested in getting a decent overview of the evolution of Kazakhstan, from the time dinosaurs roamed to the current era. It is somewhat stale and Soviet in its installation, but nonetheless offers interesting insights into the character of Kazakhstan. Descriptions are intermittently in English and Russian.
Starting in the lobby, you are greeted by a replica of the Golden Man, the Scythian warrior found in nearby Esik. You are led downstairs, where the exhibition starts with a collection of stuffed fauna resident in Kazakhstan. Beyond that, the first 2 halls take you along the different periods in Kazakh history. Interesting exhibits here are a diorama from the time Kazakhstan was washed over by the Tethys sea, a set of balbals, a sacrificial table from the Bronze Age, and precious goods from Japan and Iran to showcase the emergence of trade along the Silk Roads.
Hall 3 is all about ethnography. Displays on Kazakhstan’s traditional nomadic lifestyle are some of the most interesting in the museum, including a yurt, shaman’s accessories, clothing, children’s games and musical instruments.
Hall 4 has displays about World War II, and on the many different nations who came to live in Kazakhstan during Stalin’s reign. Hall 5 is dedicated to chest-beating nationalism and glorification of president Nazarbayev.
Folk Musical Instruments of Kazakhstan Museum (Entrance: 200 tenge. Opening hours:10-18, Tuesday to Sunday, address.)
The musical instruments museum is located in one of the prettiest buildings in Almaty, a cute wooden house from the early 20th century resting in the lovely Panfilov Park. It got a complete overhaul in 2012, giving it a new elan for the next century. It pretty much does what it says on the tin, namely displaying the array of musical instruments of traditional Kazakhs. Museum staff will delight in giving you a little sound sample of different instruments when asked.
Kasteev Museum of Fine Arts
A wonderful museum. Find out all about the Kasteyev here.
House Museum of Mukhtar Auezov (Entrance: 60 tenge. Opening hours:10-18, Tuesday to Saturday. Address: Tulebaev 185)
Even if you do not speak Russian and have no interest in the life of this important Kazakh intellectual, the house of Mukhtar Auezov is still a worthwile place to visit for the insight it gives into the living standards and lifestyle of the Soviet intelligentsia. If nothing else, his house is beautifully arranged and with a quaint garden it offers respite from the busy neighborhood.