The Azov Museum and Reserve includes: the 19th-century historic center of Azov; the 18th-century Azov Fortress and ramparts; Alekseevskiye Gate and a Gunpowder Shop; the memorial house of the famous polar explorer Rudolf Samoylovich; and the Metsenat Exhibition Hall. With almost 78,000 square meters of space, the museum hosts over 320,000 exhibits, the earliest of which are around 250 million years old.
The museum building itself is also a historical monument. In 1892, it was built according to the design of architect F. Gausenbaum. The building housed the municipal duma and city administration.
Today, 22 museum halls present exclusive collections and rare exhibits. Some cannot be found elsewhere in Russia, for example, a 5.5-6.5 million-year-old deinotherium skeleton. The Azov Museum and Reserve has the richest paleontology collection in soutern Russia.
The symbol of the museum is a skeleton of a steppe mammoth that existed 600,000-800,000 years ago during the interglacial period. This is the world’s only skeleton that includes an undamaged skull. The paleontological exposition also includes other interesting objects found within the Azov region territory: trogontherium (giant beavers), Taman elephant, prehistoric antelopes, giant horses, and the Azov giraffe.
Azov is a historical city whose culture has been preserved. Almost the entire territory is an archaeological monument. Under the modern city lie ancient roads, foundations, towers, gates of former cities, all of which has helped the museum became a well-known center of archaeological research. The first Azov archaeological excavations were carried out in 1890 by V. Yastrebov, a member of the Imperial Archeological Commission. Since 1960, the Azov Museum and Reserve has been conducting regular and large-scale archaeological investigations all over the city.
The Treasures of Eurasian Nomads exposition has become the pride of the museum collection. It displays more than 20,000 rare exhibitions dated back to the period from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 4th century A.D. Most of the items on display were shown here for the first time.
The Nature of Lower Don Region exposition, which presents the whole ecological system of Don Krai, is well regarded. Grass expanses of the Don steppe, lush thickets of the Alexandrovsky forest, the backwater floodplain of the Don river, the fresh breeze of the Azov Sea — all of these can be found in the halls of nature.
The museum's collections of archaeology, samovars, handicrafts, and figurative art have been exhibited in museums in Rostov Oblast, Kazan, and Krasnodar. In 2008, «The Treasures of the Sarmatians» exhibit was displayed in the State Hermitage Museum for several months.