Living history: reminiscences of VDNKh visitors of various years

Living history: reminiscences of VDNKh visitors of various years
All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, at the Stone Flower fountain. Author N. Granovsky. May 1958. The Main Archive Department of Moscow
The way VDNKh looked like 50, 30 and 20 years ago and what it looks like today. has collected live stories about VDNKh in which people tell about their impressions of the main exhibition of the USSR at various times, from the 60s of the last century to the present period.

"We came from Riga, Khabarovsk and Magadan to see space exhibits''

Evgeny Lazarev, the oldest VDNKh employee, former Deputy Director of the Space/Engineering Pavilion

— In 1967, I started working at VDNKh in the Engineering Pavilion with its Space section recently opened. The agricultural machinery displayed in the pavilion was supplemented with space exhibits. Every day, thousands of enthusiastic people came to VDNKh in the wake of the enormous interest in everything related to space. The exhibition was attended by visitors who had specially arrived from Khabarovsk, Magadan, Riga, Tashkent, from different parts of our country, and by large foreign delegations as well.

Cosmos Pavilion at VDNKh. Photo by an unknown author. July 1979. The Main Archive Department of Moscow

"We brought our children along, took strollers and went to VDNKh for a walk''

Lidia Zueva, the Moscow Longevity programme's participant

— In 1970, I moved to Moscow. We got acquainted with VDNKh in an ordinary way: we brought our children along, took strollers and went to VDNKh for a walk, spent our leisure time there. We visited this exhibition at least every week. It boasted great atmosphere and surroundings being a unique phenomenon recognised by all people. It was very beautiful! To start with the main entrance, the Mukhina's sculpture — it was gorgeous. And we were VDNKh's regular customers due to our interest in everything it offered: book exhibitions, where we could buy wonderful books, and the Space Pavilion. Its opening was a real thrill! Our children attended it on a frequent basis and eagerly participated in all the activities it held.

Cosmos Pavilion at VDNKh. Author R. Fedorov. 13 March  1982. The Main Archive Department of Moscow

"I was so thrilled I had to hold on to the VDNKh's metal fence''

Larisa Nesterova has been working at VDNH for 31 years. From 1989 to 2011, she managed the Culture Pavilion.

— I remember the day when I first came to the exhibition as a child. My dad was a military officer, and we used to change our place of residence rather often. And once in winter, my parents brought me and my brother to Moscow, and we naturally went to VDNKh. It was the evening time, and the exhibition was brightly lit, music was playing, skating rinks were open with beautiful Moscow boys and girls skating, so joyful and stunningly well-dressed. As for us, we came from province, and we were so astounded we could not dare to enter VDNKh. I stood for so long full of admiration, holding on to the metal fence, that my mittens stuck to it, and my parents had to tear them from the metal.

The rotunda at the entrance of the Uzbek SSR Pavilion. Author B. Ignatovich. 1939. The Main Archive Department of Moscow

"It was so thrilling to realize that Yuri Gagarin had taken his flight on that very rocket''

Evgeny Lazarev

— One of the most striking exhibits that daily crowds of visitors gathered around was a model of a three-stage Vostok launch vehicle. It seemed as huge as a sixteen-storey building. It was really breathtaking to realize that it was the rocket our Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin first flew into space in. And the pavilion offered the whole world of space with its first artificial Earth satellite, aircraft models, Salyut orbital space station and cosmonaut suits.

"You may eat an ice-cream in any cafe, but at VDNKh it was a real adventure''

Denis Romodin, Moscow history expert

— For me, as a child, the Glavkholod Pavilion was, perhaps, the brightest impression of VDNKh in the 1980s, but unfortunately, the pavilion burned down in the late 1980s. It was very unusually shaped, it looked like an iceberg. I remember that unique construction, its terraces, it was already quite dilapidated at that moment, but it still made a deep impression with those seal sculptures, stained glass in the inner hall and the summer terrace decorated with ice-like mosaic. We went to this cafe not just to eat an ice cream all other cafes also offered, but to plunge into that atmosphere. And when a waiter brought you a bowl of ice cream sprinkled with chocolate chips, it was really very bright and unusual in a child's perception, no matter whether you sat inside the pavilion or outside when the weather was warm. A true adventure!

Ice Cream Pavilion (Glavkhladprom)

''Horse Breeding Pavilion is closed, let's go see some pigs''

Alisa Grebenshchikova, an actress

— I remember my first impressions of visiting this wonderful place, anticipation of the meeting, to be more precise. I lived in Leningrad then, and they told me: "It's something so great you've never seen before!'' I was extremely fond of horses at that time, and when I was told that there was a Horse Breeding Pavilion there, naturally I was eager to visit it. And then, finally, the day comes — me and my parents go to Moscow, and we visit VDNKh. And they tell me: "Horse Breeding Pavilion is closed, but there is a beautiful Pig Breeding one, let's go and see the pigs!'' I knew that it was rather lame replacement, but there was nothing left to do. We came to the Pig Breeding Pavilion with all those boars and sows I had never seen before, and they were so huge, bigger than me, a feeble Leningrad schoolgirl. And it also made a great impression.

"In the 90-ies, I was afraid to walk through VDNKh''

Alisa Grebenshchikova

— In the late 90's, I already moved to Moscow and filmed a lot at the Gorky Film Studio. I had to walk from the metro station through VDNKh, and it was very scary, because there was a marketplace there full of suspicious-looking persons. The distance from the Botanichesky Sad metro station to the studio was longer, but I still preferred to go that way because I was just afraid to go through the VDNKh's territory.

"I used to buy video tapes at the All-Russian Exhibition Centre''

Denis Romodin

— In the late 90's, there were already vending kiosks installed, and a huge number of some shops. I went there to buy tapes with rare recordings. These pavilions were always on the move. However, for me it was a very different experience. As a child, I remembered VDNKh being bright and well-kept, and new Exhibition Centre was different, and I even did not want to go there, because the way it looked those days was rather sad and depressing.

View of the territory of the All-Russian Exhibition Centre from the Ferris Wheel on the day of its 60th anniversary. Author V. Mariño. 1 August 1999. The Main Archive Department of Moscow

"At the All-Russian Exhibition Centre, we bought our first refrigerator''

Lydia Zueva

— In perestroika times, VDNKh was transformed into an ordinary exhibition centre, a joint stock company, and it was tremendously sad. But it was good for us, because we got a possibility to buy our first refrigerator with automatic defrosting system and the first automatic washing machine for rather affordable price, although the shopping centers provided a very unpleasant impression.

View of the territory of the All-Russian Exhibition Centre from the Ferris Wheel on the day of its 60th anniversary. Author V. Mariño. 1 August 1999. The Main Archive Department of Moscow

"Annually, we hold more than ten exhibitions in Culture Pavilion''

Larisa Nesterova

— Annually, we hold more than ten exhibitions including those that played a major role in the development of Culture Pavilion status. For ten years in a row, in the late 90s - early 2000s, the Russian Miracle exhibition dedicated to religious, secular and folk art was running. Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, was the first to visit it. It was a landmark event. To celebrate the 2000th anniversary of Christianity, VDNKh hosted global events dedicated to this great date with our chapel opened, which is a temple now. It was a very significant moment in my personal life, in the life of our team, pavilion and the exhibition as a whole.

–°hildren's Games Alley in the territory of the All-Russian Exhibition Centre. Author S. Pominov. 24 August 2004. The Main Archive Department of Moscow

"Nowadays VDNKh is even more amusing than it was in my childhood''

Alisa Grebenshchikova

— I had already had a son, when I came here and realised that presently it was even more interesting than in my childhood. VDNKh revives, there are so many events held here. And I was very pleased to receive the first offer to perform at VDNKh. It was on 9 May. I thought to myself: "That's great! As a child, I could not even imagine that once I would have something to do with this large-scale urban project. Not even urban, but state, the project of the whole country."

"I witnessed Space Pavilion to regain its grandeur''

Evgeny Lazarev

—  In the 1970s, I witnessed the pavilion to reach its heyday in the era of space triumph, and how in the 2000s it lost its mission with famous exposition replaced by shops. And now, 17 years later, I witness the Cosmos Pavilion regaining its grandeur. The Cosmonautics and Aviation Centre has united the past and the present, it has become a place of attraction for thousands of enthusiastic visitors from all over the world.

"VDNKh, I'm fond of you!''

Ivan Ratushny, a student of Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural  Academy

— I like fountains because I'm fond of water. I like pavilions, because I adore beautiful architectural structures, statues, porticos, entablature and columns... VDNKh, I'm fond of you! And you may never get tired of taking pictures around this huge space.

"It is to last for ages''

Lydia Zueva

— And although the trams did not stop here, and it was impossible to even drive closer, nevertheless, what is done here — it's wonderful, just excellent. It is done to last for ages. I like that restoration works have been conducted here. I love these beautiful avenues, spaces, fountains, and I just adore the main pavilion.

"My childhood memories have been retrieved''

Denis Romodin

— The former greatness of VDNKh from my childhood memories has really manifested itself. And I must say that already at the end of last summer and in the beginning of the early autumn it was obvious that VDNKh being for a long time actually lost for the city had become a landmark for tourists visiting Moscow. I think that after all renovation works are completed, this place will be as popular as, let's say, Zaryadye Park, or some improved and landscaped streets, lanes and squares in the centre of Moscow.

"In winter, it is hot coffee and a huge skating rink, in summer — golden fountains and a lot of green trees''

Valentin Uss, a student of the Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography

— VDNKs is always different. In winter, it is hot coffee and a huge skating rink, in summer — golden fountains and a lot of green trees. I love VDNKh for its unique architectural design telling the history of Russia. You can't come here just for a walk. You will definitely think about architecture, space or the future.

"VDNKh is a place where you feel free''

Valeria Kuznetsova, a student of Moscow State Regional University

 — VDNKh is one of my favorite places in Moscow. I come here both to have a rest, and to work. Even after 80 years of its creation, VDNKh still remains attractive and up-to-date, the exhibition will always be of interest to people. Everyone may find here a favourite place, to break free, to recreate from everyday life routine. You should go to VDNKh to relax and take a stroll, not to work.