The first edifice, built specially to keep state treasures, was erected in the Kremlin in 1485 during the rule of Ivan III. It was called the Treasury Chamber. In the 16th-17th centuries, a complex of artistic workshops and storages was formed at the tsar’s court. It was therethat precious items associated with the tsar’s family were created and preserved. The complex included the Armoury Chamber, which was in charge of arms and armour. The workshops employed craftsmen and artists of the highest professional level. Among them were the gunsmiths, jewellers, carvers, iconpainters.In the early 18th century, all workshops and storages merged into one depository called ‘Workshop and Armoury Chamber’. In 1718 upon the order of Peter the Great, the most significant jewellery and state regalia were exposed ina special cupboard behind the glass. It became a forerunner of future museum.

Up to the 19th century, the Armoury Chamber did not have its own building. The Gallery of the Armoury Chamber, built in the 1756-1764 by architect D.V. Ukhtomsky to keep and expose state treasures, did not live long and the collections were not placed there.Inthe 1770-1772s, the Gallery was dismantled to make room for the alleged building of a new imperial palace. The treasures remained in old palace buildings.

In the early 19th century, an old building of the Sytny Dvor (the provision office) was supposed to go under reconstruction in order to place there afterwards an exposition of the Armoury Chamber treasures. However, the idea of a new prestigious museum required a special building.

In 1806, upon the initiative of P.S. Valuev, head of  the Palace Office, and with the permission of His Imperial Majesty, the ancient Troitskoe Podvorye (courtyard) and all adjoining buildings were dismantled. On its place, the building of new Armoury Chamber had begun. It was designed by I.V. Egotov, who had become a chief architect of the Kremlin after the dismission of M.F. Kazakov.The edifice was erected in the early 1809, but its finishing was over only by the summer 1812. The war prevented the opening of a new museum of Russian history, the Kremlin treasures were evacuated from Moscow. Only after the return in 1814, they were placed in the halls of the new building.

The disposition of the Armoury Chamber on the Kremlin plan went in accord with the concept of M.F. Kazakov regarding the reconstruction of this territory. Built in the High Classic style, it had successfully completed the ensemble of the Senate Square, limiting it from the south side and forming a space by the Troitskie Gates.

A large-scale long edifice had a rusticated socle floorover, which a magnificent main tier, lit by thehigh Romanesque windows, towered. The centre of the main façade stood out bya protruding Corinthian portico. A low level cupola crowned an attic overit. Under the windows of the second floor, there ran a band of plastic bas-reliefs with themes from the Russian history. The attic was also richly decorated with sculpture and bas-reliefs, whose author was sculptor G.T. Zamaraev.

In 1830, a collection of ancient Russian arms was placed before the façade of the Armoury Chamber. The gun carriages were produced specially for this purpose.

However, the wooden overlap of the building had a high fire risk, that is why it was not heated. This led to the dampness, which had affected the exhibits.

A new building of the Armoury Chamber was built in 1851 after the project by architect K. A. Thon. It entered the ensemble of the Grand Kremlin Palace, while the Egotov’s edifice was converted into the Casernes by the same architect. After the reconstruction, the building lost its beauty and individuality: it became three-storeyed and had dry, monotone and featureless façade.

In 1959, the former Armoury Chamber together with other buildings of the 18th-19th centuries was pulled down in order to build the Kremlin's Palace of Congresses after the project led by architect M.V. Posokhin.

View on the Old Building of the Armoury Chamber. P.A. Gerasimov. Russia, 1852.
Paper, watercolour, Indian ink. 26 х 34,8 сm (in album).
Acquired from the Leningrad Museum Fund in 1928.Fragment of the Moscow Kremlin Plan with the Old Building of the Armoury ChamberView over the Senate Square 
Building of the Armoury Chamber of 1809 behind the Church of Twelve Apostles. 
Photograph of the late 19th c.Façade of the Armoury Chamber (architecture by I.V. Egotov)
The first third of the 19th c.View from the north-west on the building of the Casernes