The museum was founded in 1925. The first head of the museum was N.A. Nakonechny. In 1950-s the museum was closed due to lack of space. In 1960-s it was reopened with the help of local history experts. Since 1976 public museum and a complex of historical and architectural monuments on Kiy island have been reorganized into Onezhsko-Kiysky branch of Solovetsky national museum-reserve of history and architecture. In 1987 Onezhsky museum became a branch of Arkhangelsk regional museum of local history. In 1988 the museum acquired a status of historical and memorial museum due to A.S. Kuchin’s 100th anniversary, a polar captain and a researcher.
In 2001 Onezhsky museum became subordinate to municipal structure “Onega town and Onezhsky district. In summer 2003 the museum moved into a two-storied brich teconstructed building (former delivery department).
Collections and exhibitions of the museum reflect peculiar features of the region. Onezhsky Pomor land with its fishing and merchant occupations was different from agricultural and cattle-breeding inner districts of Poonezhye. Between them, in the lower reaches of the Onega, there were merchant and artisanal settlements, which had elements of bourgeois town culture. Folk art and religious art, based on it, bring spiritual life of district’s population to light.
The collection of G.N. Negodyaev’s family (Onega citizen at the end of the XIXth – beginning of the XXth century), the Onega embroidery collection, the treasure of 1916 and the collection of A.S. Kuchin’s memorial things (a famous polar researcher, oceanographer) are the most interesting ones.