For 200 years the Shlisselburg Fortress “Oreshek”, situated on a small island in the river Neva's outflow fr om Lake Ladoga, was used as a political prison. The first prison building on the territory of the fortress was the Secret House, wh ere participants of the Decembrists Revolt were confined.
The New Prison was built in 1884 for life imprisonment of the members of Narodnaya Volya (Russian words for “People's Will”) terrorist organization. Narodnaya Volya is known for the assassination of Emperor Alexander II of Russia on March 1, 1881. In 1879–1883, there were more than 70 trials of Narodnaya Volya's members; they were sentenced to life imprisonment or exiled. In 1884 – 1906 sixty eight members of Narodnaya Volya were kept in the Shlisselburg Fortress, fifteen of them were executed, fifteen died of diseases, eight became insane, and three committed suicide.
The display in the New Prison tells the story of the revolutionary activity of the prisoners, conditions they were kept, their fighting with the museum administration for improvement of the prison regime. Forty solitary cells are memorial.
The exhibition in the reception room is dedicated to the history of the prison construction, prison regime and the liberation of the members of Narodnaya Volya – they were amnestied in 1905–1906.