The Tobolsk Museum, the oldest museum in Siberia, was founded by Ivan Nikolaevich Yushkov in 1870. Yushkov was a poor man, he held a minor official position, but had great energy.
For the first years, the museum did not have its own building. The items were stored in the provincial statistical committee and in the apartments of its employees.
During the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the city, the museum building was laid in the Ermak Garden. The building was built thanks to donations. The first patrons were: Tobolsk Governor V.A. Troynitsky, who contributed 50 rubles, merchant F.S. Kolmogorov – 100 rubles and I.P. Kolokolnikov – 100 rubles.
In April 1889, the museum received its first visitors. At first, it existed due to the charity of individuals, various societies and institutions.
On July 10, 1891, the heir to the throne Tsarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich (the future Nicholas II) visited the museum. He took the museum under his highest patronage. After that, the Tobolsk Provincial Museum became famous throughout Russia. For its participation in the Paris Exhibition of 1900, it received a diploma and a bronze medal.
In 1896, the art department of the provincial museum was established. The museum staff began collecting artworks of Russian painters for the museum. In the provincial museum there were artworks by I.K. Aivazovsky "Yalta", A.M. Vasnetsov "Spruce", V.V. Kandinsky "Composition", etc.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were five departments: natural-historical, ethnographic, archaeological, industrial and educational. A number of ethnographic and archaeological expeditions were organized - trips along the Salym, Polui and Vakh rivers, to collect ethnographic objects from local residents.