From fields to ‘Cosmos’: How has Moscow’s VDNKh changed since the 1990s?

Photo by VDNKh press service
The VDNKh exhibition center has a long history: it was reconstructed many times, the purposes of its pavilions were constantly changed; but it continued to get expanded and its exhibitions – supplemented. But what is there now in place of the pavilions once dedicated to all the republics of the USSR?

The Arch

This is the first thing a visitor sees upon entering VDNKh. For the 75th anniversary of the exhibition, the arch over the center’s main entrance officially became its logo. It was built in the 1950s, while renovations were done only in 2018.

‘Kazakhstan’ pavilion

Before its reconstruction, this building hosted the industrial ‘Metallurgy’ exhibition. Now, the pavilion has changed its theme dramatically and turned into a Kazakhstan nationality center, where you can better acquaint yourself with Kazakh culture.

‘Museum of the East’ pavilion

This museum also went under serious reconstruction; instead of dull gray walls, it received a facade in the spirit of eastern cultures. Inside, you can see the permanent ‘Preserving culture’ exhibition from the museum fund, which is constantly supplemented with new pieces.

‘Azerbaijan’ pavilion

This renovated pavilion reopened in 2019. Inside, its original 1939 interior has been preserved, but it now also houses new exhibitions – for example, about the history of the Azerbaijani people, as well as about stained glass production.

‘Abkhazia’ pavilion

Until 2014, this pavilion had the name ‘Chemistry’, with exhibitions inside dedicated to the origins of this science. After the renovation in 2018, the pavilion now has exhibits about the history and culture of Abkhazia on display.

‘Oil’ pavilion

This pavilion hosted an exhibition dedicated to the sugar beet when it first opened and, later, to the production of sugar, as a whole. However, in the 1960s, its name and exhibitions were changed in favor of those dedicated to the Russian oil industry.

‘Robostation’ pavilion

Before, many different exhibitions were located in this pavilion – for example, the museum of the USSR, titled: ‘The House of Butterflies’, as well as the representative office of Georgia. After the 2014 reconstruction, the interactive ‘Robostation’ exhibition was placed inside, dedicated to the achievements of Russian robotics.

‘Geology’ pavilion

In the 1950s, this pavilion was dedicated to linen, hemp and fiber crops. In 1959, however, the theme of the pavilion was changed completely. The pavilion was renamed ‘Geology’; now, it hosts the ‘12 Signs of the Living’ exhibition, where visitors are taught how to tell apart an animate object from an inanimate one, as scientists do.

‘Cosmos’ pavilion

The first exhibition in this pavilion told the story of the mechanization and electrification of agriculture. Since 1967, however, the exhibition has been renamed ‘Cosmos’; actual spacecraft and various models, as well as many ‘artifacts’ are exhibited there. 

‘Film Museum’ pavilion

Initially, this pavilion hosted exhibitions dedicated to the processing of agricultural produce, but, after the collapse of the USSR, this exhibition was closed. In 2017, the pavilion went through a large reconstruction and, now, it hosts the ‘Film Museum’, where visitors learn about the origins and achievements of Soviet and Russian cinema.

‘Fairy Tale Theater’ pavilion

After its opening in 1939, this pavilion was named ‘Peat’ and offered visitors the opportunity to learn about the technologies of the extraction, processing and implementation of this resource. In the 1960s, it was renamed ‘Young technologists’; currently, it hosts the ‘Fairy Tale Theater’ multimedia space, where visitors can themselves become a part of any performance.

The Big Picture of Fields

Earlier, this location was a simple garden; however, today, you can find a whole system of flower gardens. All parts of this unusual exhibition create a big, abstract picture. When the wind blows, it’s as if it comes to life!

The Green Theater

Before its reconstruction, this theater under the open sky was completely abandoned and in complete disarray, but, now, it has been fully renovated. Currently, it’s a large concert stage for many musical acts and stage productions.

The pond

This large pond was a pleasant place for walks ever since it was built; but, after the reconstruction, it was transformed into a full recreation complex!

The Golden Spike

The fountain inside the pond is one of VDNKh’s three main fountains (apart from this one, there’s also ‘Friendship of peoples’ and ‘Stone flower’). Currently, the second version of this object is standing in the water, the first one was dismantled back in 1949, due to rusted copper plates. The new fountain was made larger; during reconstruction, it was additionally treated for corrosion and its foundation was reinforced.

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