Today and tomorrow of the Lomonosovo Island
Kurostrov is an island not far from Arkhangelsk that is washed by the mighty streams of the Northen Dvina river. This secluded place is famous by the name of Ivan Vasilievich Lomonosov, famous scientist who was born here if 1711 and left it for Moscow in the age of 17, in 1728. Since then his portraits follow after every student from the schoolwalls across the whole the country. Speaking place branding terminology, Lomonosov is a local genius of the place. And it cerainly, does: here you can visit museum on Ivan Lomonosov, while startling at the northern nature and admiring the traditional bonecarving crafts. Bonecarver community is very strong here and it's difficult to decide who's more showed here: Lomonosov who left the place, or the bonecarver's community who stayed and prosper here. We had been asked to investigate that and help with activating Lomonosov's name after the request of Ministry of Culture of Arkhangelsk Oblast.

Clients: Ministry of Culture of Arkhangelsk Oblast and Project Office for Arctic Development

Work: research, branding, design, wayfinding, maps

Status: in use

2017 … 2018
Kurostrov with the Lomonosov museum was a point of attraction for both school and tourist groups, yet lacked the infrastructure: no cafe, not even a place to rest or sleep at night. Might be that was the actual purpose why Ivan Vasilyevich Lomonosov left the place in 18th century?
Natalia Rybalchenko
Where Lomonosov left off
Following the raising interest of Arkhangelsk Oblast administration in developing tourism products here, we had been asked to help with branding. Our work started from research and getting used to communities inside, including taking a lesson in school and having a walk with pupils around the settlement.
These are the expected conclusions that matter as the barriers against the successful development of the Lomonosovo, and any similiar place, to be honest.
  • Lomonosov brand not used
    Unexploited potential
  • Residents leave
    More local residents leave the Island due to lack of demand and work
  • Tourists unsatisfied
    Lack of needed infrastructure, cafe, hotels, everything
  • Non-involvement
    Young residents seem lost and not inolved into place development processes
Michael Lomonosov and his geniuses
Birthplaces of people such scale as Michael Lomonosov can't remain unnoticed and there would have been immediately built some sort of a local theme-park if it was in USA. In Russia, where there are hundreds of educational institutions are named after him, there's almost no attention to the settlement where he was born, but a modest outdated museum with lack of financing and "do not touch this" signs here and there.
This is Michael Lomonosov, our hero
Local geniuses (left-to-right): Michael Lomonosov, Fedot Shubin the architect, Afanasiy and Varnava the archbishops, Michael Golovin the physicist
Amount of famous people this scale left us no choice than to start thinking of creating a university hub on Lomonosovo Island international wide. That sounds like fantasy at first, but at the same time, realistic: suitable national landscapes, good logistics and the location by one of the largest cities in the north-western region of Russia. Historical context advised it to be international, like back in Lomonosov times.
University and tourist international Island
Symbolic capital of the place
We have pointed out the set of unique interesting specialities that later built our strategy upon:
  • International hub
    Historically international, like back in 18th century, when Lomonosov was born
  • Local architecture
    Guest houses, private museums dedicated to the geniuses of the place. Working with residents and developing a single hotel standard
  • Gastronomy
    Famous Kholmogory type of cows, touching zoo, including Kholmogory cousine and gastronomical package branding with a focus on local sort of potatoes and beef
  • Bonecarvers
    Upgrading the bonecarvers set of souvenirs, that could suit the modern needs
  • Monasteries
    A number of monasteries nearby are pushing towards creating a tourism cluster
  • Lomonosov museum
    With adding interactivity, inclusive master-classes, new set of souvenirs, cafe and modern design it would become awesome
  • Bonecarving college
    Bonecarving craft educational programs, pomor boat building craft workshops, Kholmography iconography schools and much more
  • Wooden school
    Anticafe, library, booksharing, coworking and park design in front with sculptures of nine most important Lomonosov inventions
Green and white Lomonosov islands
All potential activities have been devided between two seasons, that we've called the green and the white "islands" respectively.
Conditional dividing island activites on the summer and winter periods is called "Green" and "White" islands appropriately
Lomonosovo of tomorrow
All our dream projects taken together look awesome on the united illustration of the Island of tomorrow here. Library, bonecarving school, anticafe, coworkings, park, hostel, conference rooms, interactive exhibitions, guest houses, private museums, workshops: everything we love.
Dream big: Lomonosovo of tomorrow map, that combines, say, everything we dreamed of
Besides, the connection between the outer locations, such as Kholmogory, Matigory, Vavchuga and Siy Monastery with ship transport, that looks almost totally unbelievable, yet possible, why not:
Nearby locations, clockwise from Lomonosovo (top): Matigory, Siy Monastery, Vavchuga, Kholmogory.
The spouses from Freiberg
There wouldn't have been even an attempt to launch this project without the german spouses, who were involved into developing Lomonosov name both in Freiberg, Germany and in Russia (Lomonosov came to Fraiberg in the age of 28 for working and studing). The spouses already invested in the sportyard by the Lomonosovo school and were going to finance the whole project together with the Arkhangelsk governor administration. Discussions were held on the top level and we we eager to package the whole project for them.
The spouses from Fraiberg, Marianne and Frank-Michael Engel meet Igor Orlov, former governor or Arkhangelsk Oblast
Bonecarving community breaks bones
The project wasn't finally meant to be launched and properly financed due to heavy opposition of the local bonecarving community that wasn't interested in developing tourist project of such scale and were against reconstructional initiatives that could have affected old buildings, like the old bonecarving school. That might be the result of communication flaws with the residents, or some political issues. Anyway, project was put on hold just before the Covid times and lately forgotten.
Lomonosov is gone long ago, yet my ancestors stayed.
Bonecarvers community members
Nikolay Zachinayev, the outstanding bonecarver from Lomonosovo and his works (photos by Nikolay Vymorkov)
Never underestimate the importance of local communities like the bonecarving one in Lomonosovo. Here, we had been so fascinating with the idea of dreaming Lomonosov Islands that it covered our perception of reality, where the real residents were totally against the heavy rebranding. And the situation was as follow: the settlement became the home of bonecarving communitity that didn't want much changes, reconstructions and increased tourist flow.
Natalia Rybalchenko
No matter it soon became clear that the Lomonosovo Island of tomorrow won't happen soon, we wanted to go small steps and leave something useful behind us.
Maps and wayfinding
A detailed bilingual tourist map was made for wayfinding needs in 2018. We wanted it to be approved by the locals and added a sufficient information of the existed bonecrafting craft community.
Lomonosovo map, side A
Lomonosovo map, side B
Following the map, a set of five wayfinding pylons had been installed across the settlement, that helped with pedestrian navigation.
Set of wayfinding pylons in Lomonosovo
All the primary destinations, that had been highlighted on the pylons got information plaques with a bright and eyecatching illustrations.
Set of eye-catching informational plaques across the Lomonosovo settlement
Online map
For keeping our work in the digital space, we've made a pretty straightforward online map, available on
Full-size map has been kept in the web with the help of Pora.Arctic
Kholmogory tourist brand
Surprisingly, our Lomonosovo brand got a new life in the late 2023, being ressurected in the new role of a Kholmogory with the help of the governor grant. Project was made by the Vasily Morev initiative.
Designs of the Kholmogory brand from 2023 inherits our work from 2018
Lomonosovo brand had been taken in use without letting us know. If you ask us, we won't say for sure that using Lomonosov as a logo for the whole district would be perfect, yet decision is decision and we don't have anything against it, either
Natalia Rybalchenko
Lomonosovo today
So, as seen above, Lomonosovo brand has been transformed into the Kholmogory visually. At the same time, the project of developing a university tourist island is abandoned with the lack of proper financial and administrative support and loosing investment interest. The only what's left today is the wayfinding.
But Kurostrov Island is worth visit, because of outstanding community who've created a Rovdina Gora project there. Nikolay Vymorkov and his wife, Polina, have respectively reconstructed the old holland mill, located next to Lomonosovo and find out ways to invite volunteers there. They are taking part in crowdfunding projects, winning federal grants. Musical and design festivals are held on the island and all because of Nikolay and Polina passion that resulted in true love to the territory.
Lomonosovo mentions in media
  1. More on Lomonosovo Island on Arkhangelsk tourist project
  2. on the news on accepting Lomonosovo Island tourist project
  3. Lomonosovo museum official website and vk
  4. More on the Lomonosovo bonecarving community we mentioned a lot (vk)
  5. Our friends, who made the nearby holland mill great again: Rovdina gora and vk
  6. More expressions on visiting Lomonosovo from 2020
  7. Dvina 29 on the Lomonosovo Island tourist development project
  8. Dzen article on visiting Lomonosovo in 2019
Awaiting for the ferry to come: (left-to-right) Svetlana Kornitskaya, Natalia Rybalchenko, Svetlana Zenovskaya
  • Natalia Rybalchenko
    Brand strategist, researcher
  • Igor Makovsky
    Art director, designer, illustrator
  • Irina Markova
    Project manager
  • Nikolay Vymorkov
    Support, copywriting, translating
  • Marina Ponomareva
  • Project Office for Arctic Development
  • Natalia Bolshakova,
    Galina Dobrunova,
    Tatyana Butorina,
    Eugeny Tenetov,
    Natalya Shpanova,
    Igor Gostev
    Project partners
  • Veronika Yanichek,
    Svetlana Zenovskaya,
    Svetlana Kornitskaya
    Thanks for support
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