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Review: A Soviet Childhood – Installation/exhibition – Museum of Moscow

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Puppets from ‘Good Night, Children’ – Soviet TV show

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The parade begins

Articles made in the USSR are the subject of eternal fascination for the recent generations who grew up without them.

They provoke  nostalgic feelings amongst those to whom the objects and symbols of this bygone era are still familiar in the true sense of the word.

The engaging installation at the Museum of Moscow attracted the full range of comments from the varied viewers: For the 30+ age group it was: ‘I had a horse on wheels just like that – but I always remember it being much bigger than that one’ – whilst the hipsters were in ecstasy – ‘Wow that huge radio is soooo cool and retro’ – and children were enthralled and looked at it all as ancient history – ‘Mummy, did you really wear that thing as a school uniform?’

Whatever the immediate reaction, the faces of the visitors showed an overwhelmingly positive attitude to this modest but highly evocative exhibition.

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Soviet boy’s uniform shirt and scarf

The centrepiece is an installation of toys, arranged as if taking part in a parade.  They start with very young children’s toys, arranged at or near ground level, and as the age of the ‘child’ increases, so the toys become more ‘mature’, until flying school bags and uniforms appear, then pioneer flags with political slogans to drums for marching bands.  It gives an objective (literally) commentary to growing up in the USSR.  It does not comment on the somewhat sinister aspect of the political indoctrination of the youth – that is clear for everyone to see and does not need to be the dominant part of the experience, just as it was not the primary facet of a Soviet childhood.

This fun and attention-arresting exhibition is on at the Museum of Moscow, just nearby Park Kultury metro station, until 15th. March.  Entrance is 200 Roubles.  Well worth it.  Go.

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