The main VDNKh archway was designed by architect Innokenty Melchakov and built in 1954 during the postwar reconstruction of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. Before this, a three-span archway, known as the northern entrance today, served as the main entrance.
The new five-span triumphal arch symbolised the glory of the Soviet Union, which won the Great Patriotic War. The first part of the renovation work began last year.
Experts renovated the sculpture “Tractor Driver and Kolkhoz Woman” on top of the main entrance. The prototype of this sculpture, a kolkhoz man and kolkhoz woman with a sheaf of wheat, was installed on 20-metre-high foundation at the exhibition in 1939. In 1954, a new and smaller version of the sculpture – 8.65 metres instead of 13 – was touched up and put on top of the arch.
Last autumn renovators restored the missing pieces, re-gilded the sheaf of wheat, strengthened the concrete foundation and patched up all the cracks.
In addition to this, they did up all the bas-relieves portraying agricultural workers on the main arch.
The improvement of the main part of the Central Alley, where visitors find themselves after they pass under the main entrance, was completed in record time. The new asphalt covers over 120,000 square metres of the central part of the exhibition in total.
Transformation of VDNKh after renovation
The Central Alley leads to Industry Square where the Russia is My History historical park (Pavilion No.57), the Cosmonautics and Aviation Centre (Pavilion No.34) and the exhibition of the Polytechnic Museum (Pavilion No.26) are situated.
Specialists also recreated flowerbeds along the Central Alley using 1950s designs. The renovation work got an award at the 2017 Moscow Renovation contest for the best project to preserve and promote cultural landmarks.
Central Alley Fountains
Fountains were the most important thing to be renovated. Specialists restored 14 fountains along the Central Alley and launched the famous “Friendship of Nations” and “the Stone Flower” fountains.
Fourteen Central Alley fountains in octagonal permanent bowls faced with red granite are located in two rows between the main entrance and the Central Pavilion.
The renovation was conducted in compliance with the 1954 project that called for casting fountain bowls and wells on location. Therefore the shapes are slightly irregular, differing from geometrical octagons. The experts did their best to retain the fountain’s original historical image.
The “Friendship of Nations” fountain is one of the main symbols of VDNKh. It was also installed near the Central Pavilion 64 years ago, with 16 gilded bronze sculptures of girls representing 16 republics of the USSR around the oval fountain bowl resembling a sheaf of wheat.
“The Stone Flower” is the second most important VDNKh fountain. Its main idea, plentifulness, is embodied in sculptures.
The central fountain bowl resembles a large flower built with blocks of concrete. The bowl is decorated with granite “food tables” from different union republics and small fountains resembling geese and sturgeon.
The Golden Spike, another main VDNKh fountain (alongside “Friendship of Nations” and “The Stone Flower”) was also installed in 1954 for the opening of the exhibition following the postwar reconstruction. It is located in the centre of Pond No.3. It is a 16-metre-high golden and red spike.
The fountain consisted of 66 jets located on the “grains,” with 30 of them being 25 metres tall. In the late 1980s the water system of the fountain broke down, and the fountain was turned off. The Golden Spike didn’t operate for 30 years.
This summer people in Moscow and tourists will get a chance to admire the restored and relaunched Golden Spike fountain. The scaffolding was taken down in June: renovators cleaned and restored the outside layer of the fountain. In addition to this, they reinforced the supporting structures as well as replaced the engineering and pumping system, which after three decades allowed the most elaborate VDNKh fountain to be enjoyed by all once again.
The first stage of the construction of a new Moscow green area – landscape park – is almost completed. The northern loop is decorated with the symbols of the park, red and pedunculate oaks, near the bicycle rental pavilion No.1. A large walking area, which is over five km long, begins not far away from there. Lindens have been planted along its sides. A pleasant atmosphere is created by 220 historical streetlamps. Another 119 will be installed soon.
The number of visitors is expected to increase from 24 to 40 million per year after the renovation is completed, with the tourist flow growing by 25 percent.