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VDNKh the exposition of Soviet progress

No idea what this building has been representing in the course of the history of this exhibition center...

Among the most prominent sights of Soviet era in Moscow VDNKh - Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnovo Khosyaistva used to be the first to display the priority of Socialist economy in every industry as well as a truimph of palace-like Stalininst architecture. As such it still looks solemn even in the present state of decay. Exhibition of the Achievements of National Economy is nowadays called officially VVTs All-Russian Center for Exhibitions. It was renamed in 1992 by a decree by Boris Jelzin, and has been trying to present itself as an exhibition center. It got started, though, as something quite different.

Pavilion 28 originally presenting the achievements and new developments of bee-keeping

VDNKh was originally constructed as the Exhibition of Agriculture of the Whole Soviet Union , and opened in 1939. It was meant to show to the citizens of the capital and to all visitors the achievements of socialist economy. It had, on the contrary to its tasks today, no commercial caracter at all. It was a place for education and for recreation. And, of course, for propaganda. People should admire the technical achievements the socialist system was capable to produce as it had eliminated all destructive competition, freed the creative spirits of man which in capitalism are supressed and reached a nivel of cooperation unseen so far in these lands.
The exhibition area already in those days covered 136 hectares with 250 buildings of different size. There were ponds and fountains, and places to eat. At the Northern Entrance stood the most famous statue of Soviet art: The statue of the "Worker and the Kolkhose-woman" by Vera Mukhina.

The pavilion representing the achievements of Kirgisia's economy

During World War II, and for nine more years the exhibition park was closed. After thorough reconstruction the area was enlarged to 207 hectares , and the amount of buildings rose to 383 it was reopened in 1954. The new main entrance was right beside the underground station that leads to the exhibition. Finally in 1958 it was decided to unite the agricultural, industrial and construction exhibitions in this area and the new united exhibition park was renamed VDNKh . Already before that certain pavilions had been built or changed in order to represent the economic developments in the various republics-entities united in Soviet Union, such as Georgia, Aserbaidzhan, or the Baltic States.

Armenia's building

In the vast area of VDNKh the visitor could get an idea of the special agricultural and industrial progress in the various republics of Soviet Union, of new products (that perhaps would be very hard to find in the shops!) or of the whole world of cosmology. One might get an idea of new electrotechnical methods, of new chemical materials, of revolutionary inventions. VDNKh was like a mixture of an enormous technical museum combined with palace-like buildings, recreational areas, playgrounds, green grass and fountains of a splendour that evoke the time of the Tsars.

Already some of the original buildings of the area have been torn down, in order to create space for new "modern" ones. In the end, the Stalin-era style of temple-like, palace-like buildings, of overloaded, tsarist era decorations, of gold and stucco, can always be questioned. As Pilate asked: "What is Truth?", one can always ask: "What is Beauty?" and declare the whole Stalin-era architecture obsolete, worthy only of the manure heap of history.

And replace it with "modern", "adequate", and most of all: profitable! buildings of concrete and steel and glass, as in Shanghai , and New York , and Hongkong, and Berlin , and Stockholm , and Paris , and London ...

Among the most interesting sights at VDNKh are the already mentioned "Worker and Woman Collective Farmer," the gleaming jet-age Space Obelisk, Space Museum, the imposing Stalinist Central Pavilion, and virtually all of the Stalinist-era trade pavilions. The gorgeous gilded fontain at the central allea is called - "Frendship of Nations" where the women in folk dresses symbolize all republics of the USSR. Many of you knows that after the WWII there were 15 republics, but there are 16 figures! 16-th is Karjalo-Finnish SSR that was dissolved in years. There was an old joke: "Why there is no more Karjalo-Finnish SSR? Because there are only 2 Finns left there - FINancial inspector and FINkelstein. But more thorough investigation found out that those 2 appeared to be the same man." ;-))

Nowadays the area is used as a large recreation park with a funfair. Between December 25 and January 5 each winter, the VDNKh is the venue for a Russian Winter Festival, replete with folk music and dancing as well as troika rides.

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