The Narkomfin Building, VDNKh fountains and Vera Mukhina’s sculptures: Restoration programme for 2017

The Narkomfin Building, VDNKh fountains and Vera Mukhina’s sculptures: Restoration programme for 2017
The 2017 Moscow restoration programme will cover over 200 buildings, mansions, exhibition pavilions, monuments and churches.

This year, 220 cultural heritage facilities will be renovated including those in disrepair. This is what the head of the Department of Cultural Heritage Alexei Yemelyanov said. No less than 200 facilities are repaired each year, he said, and half of them through private investment.

Renovation of historical buildings

“Work on the Narkomfin Building, the world’s constructivism gem, will begin as early as May. Our department has given the greenlight to the relevant documentation, and we expect the owner to begin repair work in May. It is especially important that the first thing that is done is to preserve the historical appearance of the building,” Alexei Yemelyanov said.

The ground floor will be demolished first, followed by the upper-storey annex of the communal building, he added. According to Yemelyanov, constructivism buildings are one of the hardest to renovate, because they were built using poor quality materials.

“A distinguishing feature of these buildings is that they still serve their original purpose. The commune house on Ordzhonikidze Street was built to house a dormitory and it still has it today; the Narkomfin Building was intended as a residential building and we will make sure it continues to be used for this purpose,” Yemelyanov said.

Renovation is underway at merchant Bykov’s tenement building at 2 Brestskaya Street, built in 1909.  The house has been in bad shape for years. Accident prevention has been completed and the restoration of the building’s historical appearance is ongoing. “We hope that by late this year already the work will take on a visible effect and people in Moscow will be able to see a real façade, not a giant dust sheet  or a net, and admire well-known Russian architect Lev Kekushev’s vision,” Yemelyanov said.

The National Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh) will also see large-scale changes with 29 monuments being cleaned up or repaired. “These will include both the exhibition’s large and small facilities, but renovation will cover the entire heart of the exhibition. By the time the tourism season starts in the late second quarter of 2018, everything will have been completed,” Yemelyanov said.

He added that the final touches of repair work are being put on the Northern Entrance arch, one of the venue’s oldest structures. The Environment Protection pavilion was repaired through private investment, and is set to house a ballet school later this year.

A renovation work has started at the Agriculture pavilion. Scaffolding will be set up over its main entrance in May.  The fountains on the VDNKh’s central pathway, the Stone Flower, the Golden Spike and the People’s Friendship, will also receive a facelift, which will be completed by the 2018 season.

The VDNKh’s Main Pavilion is likely to be in for a few more surprises. This is after a high relief by Vuchetich and a painting by Alexander Gerasimov were discovered there earlier. “The first studies and cleaning conducted at the pavilion revealed fragments of historical paintings and decorations. I am certain that the Main Pavilion will continue to present us with new curious findings throughout this year,” Yemelyanov said.

Metro, sculptures and churches

A large-scale reconstruction project will continue in the Moscow Metro where 46 stations have cultural heritage status. Renovation projects are being developed for 20 stations, and work will begin at 14 this year already. According to Alexei Yemelyanov, the metro is a hugely important means of transportation, which will require work to be conducted during the night.

Twenty five monuments will be restored as well. They include such bronze allegories as “Water” and “Earth” that were sculpted by Vera Mukhina to be placed at Luzhniki Stadium in 1957. In addition, 94 modern sculptures will be renovated.

Twenty one churches will be repaired as well. Fifteen will be restored through subsidies, and six as part of the Culture of Moscow programme. Work will be completed at five facilities this year. These are the Vysokopetrovsky Monastery, the Nativity Convent, the Cherkasova Poorhouse with the Life-Giving Trinity Church, the Vinogradovo Mansion and the Church of the Nativity of Christ.

Archaeological finds

According to Alexei Yemelyanov, 2016 set a record in the number of archaeological finds with 7,000. This renovation season promises to be no less eventful. Experts expect more discoveries.

“Last Saturday, the Naryshkin Chambers were found during the renovation of the Vysokopetrovsky Monastery in Petrovka Street. Earlier, over 150 items were discovered in the area of Lubyanka and the Novaya Square, and the find of the day was a 16th-century secret chamber at the foot of the Kitaigorod Wall that was used for listening to enemy troops on the other side. Preparations for the work at the Boulevard Ring under the My Street programme led to some very interesting discoveries three weeks ago,” Yemelyanov said.

Investment in renovation

Since 2013, Moscow has implemented the One Rouble for One Square Metre programme that helps find private investment for renovation. Today, 18 facilities are covered by the programme. Work has been completed at seven, and continues at 11 facilities.

Renovation has been completed at E.A. von Berens’ house in Gusyatnikov Pereulok, and N.P.Baulin’s house in Nikoloyamskaya Street. T.F.Eminsky’s Mansion in Porkovka Street and V.F.Kolesnikov’s Mansion on Taganskaya Square will be finished this year. Four more buildings will be included in the programme this year.

“Over half of the buildings refurbished in 2016 were renovated through private investment. The reason is not that Moscow spent less money on it, but because private investors have at last become interested in restoration projects,’ Alexei Yemelyanov said.

Last year, work was underway at 724 facilities. Of them, 159 historical and cultural monuments were repaired, or a 1.4-time increase from 2015. Private investors did the job on 85 facilities, a 1.5-time jump from 2015.

Historical and cultural heritage days

The Department of Cultural Heritage holds campaigns to familiarize people in Moscow with the cultural history of the city. Historical and Cultural Heritage Days are some of the largest events held for this purpose. They are marked on 18 April, International Day for the Preservation of Monuments and Sites, and 18 May, International Day of Museums. Over 100 events have been planned for these dates offering you an opportunity to visit 50 buildings of cultural or historical heritage, including those that are not usually open to the public.

“We launched the progamme in 2007 and from the start it enjoyed great popularity among Muscovites. It all began with two days and several embassies, but in the 10 years the number of buildings covered by the project as well as its duration continued to increase. This year, the programme is on for 45 days, and 17 embassies and over 30 buildings will be on view,’ Alexei Yemelyanov said.

You can visit the winners of the 2016 Moscow Renovation contest, the Smaller Cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery and the Dresden Hotel in Tverskaya Street. Two more buildings were selected by a popular vote via the Active Citizen online polling.

Historical and Cultural Heritage Days include quests and lectures. On 18 May, a quest will take you to cultural monuments in Prechistenka Street, including to diplomatic buildings. There will be lectures at the Ilyinsky Sisters House in Gagarinsky Pereulok and the Schechtel Mansion in Bolshaya Sadovaya Street. Experts will talk about the architectural features of the mansions occupied by embassies or serving as ambassadorial residencies.

There are plans to hold events which involve visits to historical buildings all year round. “At first, guided tours were held on two days only, 18 April and 18 May. In 2016, it was a month between 18 April and 18 May. This year, it begins on 18 April and will end on 31 May. We’ve increased the number of events and their duration. However, if someone fails to take part, I’ll let you in on a secret: we are looking at holding another event with visits to historical buildings in the autumn, European Cultural Heritage Days,” Yemelyanov said.

New tourist routes are being developed by students from the Tour Guide School that opened this year in cooperation with the All-Russia Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments. Qualified tour guides have been trained with the help of popular projects, “Walking out into the City” and “Moscow through the Eyes of the Engineer.” “The more people we have who are interested in Moscow and its history and architecture, the more efficiently we can preserve our cultural heritage,” Alexei Yemelyanov said.