The Kirillo-Belozersky museum started to form its main collections in the 1920-s having inherited the monastery property. Then it was receiving objects from the closed neighbouring monasteries and parish churches. Thus the basic collections of the museum were formed: collections of Old Russian art, church cloths, hand-written and printed books.

Later on when they completed the holdings the emphasis was laid on the materials of the Soviet history and local lore. Works of Soviet artists and sculptors were sent to the museum through the Artistic Fund. Materials which represented the formation of socialisms in the country, pace-makers of the production, development of agriculture in the district and so on were collected.

When the status of the Kirillo-Belozersky museum was changed in 1968, the employees faced with a problem of new exhibitions. The fact that there were considerable gaps in the materials reflecting the history and culture of the district became evident.

Starting from the 1970-s the museum carried out active collecting work. Every year it undertook expeditions and cooperated with the collectors. It gave an opportunity not only to fill the gaps, but also to create full and often unique collections. A remarkable one represented folk ceramics of the 19th-20th centuries. It included black pottery, glazed earthenware, goods of modern craftsmen. Even potter’s tools and a part of the workshop were found. This collection gives an idea about the ceramics in the Kirillov and Belozersk districts and neighbouring territories. Plenty of materials on the history of pottery, peculiarities of works and traditions have been studied and generalized. The collection of ceramics was replenished with clay toys. Constantly working with children the museum continues to form it. Over the last years it has received exhibits which considerably enlarged the holdings: dolls of the folk master Maya Sysoeva; ethnographical dolls of Marina Vasilyeva, traditional wooden toys of Kirillov carved by the craftsman N.P. Shahov.

In 2003 the museum organized a wonderful exhibition based on a splendid collection of printed cloths gathered by the employees. During expeditions they found not only the samples and tools, but also revealed centres of their production and names of masters.

The museum reposits a unique collection of the northern peasant embroidery which is constantly replenished. Thanks to the expeditions there is a large collection of distaffs, painted furniture and objects of the peasant life. At the beginning of 2004 the museum bought a painted boarding and a ceiling from the Savichevs’ house in the village Zaimitsche (Talitsky village soviet). The house painting based on the use of free vivid ornamentation can be rarely found now. Already in the 1970-s the museum negotiated to buy this house and transport it to its territory, bur the owners didn’t agree. Today the building is dilapidated and is not to be preserved.

Collecting work gave an opportunity to create a significant collection of bells. Thanks to this work the belfry of the Ferapontov monastery, now Museum of Dionisy’s frescoes, has been restored. The exhibition of bells and shaft-bow bells in the Kirillov museum enjoys a wide popularity.

The museum bought stamps of the Kirillov zemstvo and postcards with views of the town Kirillov in the early 20th century. The collection of photos was greatly enlarged thanks to the work of the employees of the history department with those people who was born in Kirillov, but now lived in other cities.

For many years the Kirillov museum cooperates with the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Every year the holdings are enriched with archaeological materials of the Onezhsko-Sukhonskaya expedition. They have been processed, mostly restored, and are usually accompanied with documents. In 2005 the museum planned to create a large archaeological exhibition and therefore it was collecting materials. Over the last 2 years we bought several unique archeological funds from private persons.

A stone icon dating back to the 15th-16th centuries was bought from the inhabitant of Vologda Anatoly Vyacheslavovich Razinskiy. It is a two-sided icon with a relief figure of “The Virgin of Incarnation”, at the top there is Christ the Saviour “not made by hands” and on the back – “Crucifixion with suppliants” and “Seraph” at the top. This small icon (its sizes are 5,5 3,5 1,1 cm) is carved from a flat plate of dark slate.

The second panel “Mother of God Hodegetria” of the 15th century belonged to Igor Ivanovich Opalihin from Vologda and was found in the course of works in the vegetable garden. It is also small (its sizes are 5,9 5,1 0,9 cm) and carved from sorrel slate.

In the same year one more unique fund was bought – a bronze anthropomorphous figure dating back to the Early Iron Age. It was discovered by Nikolay Konstantinovich Koptelov from Kadnikov not far from the Veksa settlement.

In 2003 the holdings of the museum were replenished with a collection of medieval materials – 60 lead seals of the 12th century and a Western-European one of the 15th century found by P.V. Biryukov from Moscow.

Archeologists have been discussing the role of seals for many years.

There were two spheres of their use – to seal up goods and to fasten documents conducting trade operations and administrative activity. The right side of seals and the back have depictions or marks. The seals with the depictions of saints are more numerous in the collection. The faces have not only clear contours, but a nimbus in the form of dotty rims around the head. The images are combined with a prince’s mark on some of them. The most popular are the seals with crosses and with letters. Some depictions are indecipherable because of their bad state. This collection was approved by the Institute of Archaeology.

The inhabitant of Kirillov handed an icon “Afanasy, Patriarch of Constantinople, Lubenskiy Miracle-Worker. Shrine” dating back to the second half of the 19th century. Wood, gesso, tempera, oil varnish. Its sixes are 10.6 8.5 0.5 cm. There is a shrine with a canopy and two opened leaves, decorated with ornament and placed on a high red podium. The vestments of the Patriarch are put inside: a chasuble with an omophorion, a staff and a mitre. Above it the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove in the shine. There is an inscription above the shrine: “St. Afanasy Part. Const. Lub. Mirac.” There was a tradition to bury patriarchs in sitting position with all the attributes of their power.

The Patriarch of Constantinople Afanasy was a contemporary of Patriarch Nikon; he lived for several years in Russia. The Rublev Museum of Old Russian Art and Culture and the Dmitrov museum have icons with his image. This panel was displayed in the exhibition dedicated to the Patriarch Nikon in 2005.

Thanks to the federal financing the Kirillo-Belozersky museum-reserve has resumed scientific expeditions which were not undertaken over the last years and continues to replenish its collections. Every year it receives more than 1000 exhibits.