Flowers of light: Daisy chandeliers restored in Physics Pavilion at VDNKh

December 12, 2020

Work on restoring the mid-1950s architectural appearance and interior continues at Pavilion No 5, Physics Pavilion (former Latvian SSR Pavilion). Restoration experts are focusing on the details of the historical interior design. For example, the glass daisy chandeliers that adorn the entrance hall were recently restored. 

"The restoration of the daisy chandeliers in the central part of the entrance hall has been completed. This part of the coffered ceiling (decorative pattern of indentations or recesses in an overhead surface) is divided into 45 cells, with a lamp in each one. The chandeliers were designed to look like flowers: the frames are made of copper alloy; the petals are made of glass. The ceiling was decorated for the opening of the pavilion in 1954. The shape of the lighting fixtures was not chosen by chance. The meadow daisy is considered the national flower of Latvia," the Moscow Major Repairs Department press service said.

The ceiling and chandeliers remained virtually intact over time. Some of the lighting fixtures lost their glass petals and fasteners over time, and some of the metal frames were bent. But most of the chandeliers had only minor chips in the glass.

The department’s press service explained that the experts first cleaned the chandeliers of layers of dust and dirt and then fixed the bent sections of metal parts and the frames. They replaced the missing parts and restored the fasteners. The original glass that survived was put back in place, and the lost ones were recreated. The coffered ceiling was painted the original colours of the pavilion: dark grassy green, gold, and light ochre.

The chandeliers have been hung in their original locations and covered with a protective material from dust, as the repair and restoration work in the building is ongoing. These lighting fixtures are the only ones left from the 1954 pavilion.

While studying the archive documents, quality photos of the pavilion's interiors were found. They show other lamps that did not survive, but now restoration is possible.

"We plan to recreate 18 more lighting fixtures in the entrance and central halls. These include wall sconces, rook chandeliers, and two other types of large basket chandeliers. Each lighting device corresponds to the architectural design of the hall in which it was located. In form and design, they complement the style of the interior," the press service said.

The designers of these chandeliers and sconces are unknown and could include various masters. The chandeliers and sconces use details of plants based on Latvian flowers, leaves, ribbons and ears. A project to recreate these lighting fixtures has already been developed and approved.

Restoration of Physics Pavilion

Physics Pavilion, built in 1954, was designed by several architects: Eduards Aivars, Zakis and Karlis Pluksne. It is located in the gardens of the Baltic Republics and dominates the square with its portico with colourful majolica elements accenting its beautiful appearance.

In March, as part of the large programme to revive the exhibition centre, repair and restoration work began in Pavilion No 5. During the various restoration projects, the experts are preserving and restoring the architectural and artistic design of the pavilion from the 1950s as much as possible.

At this point, paintings in the entrance and central halls have now been restored, also using archive materials and samples that survived, the entrance doors, made of Mongolian oak inlaid with large artificial polished amber, have also been recreated. After the restoration, which is planned to be completed next year, Physics Pavilion No 5 will house the Museum of the Moscow municipal economy complex.

VDNKh is a unique public space with 80 years of history. The exhibition park includes 49 cultural heritage sites, including historical pavilions and fountains. VDNKh covers an area over 325 ha.

A large rejuvenation programme was launched in 2014. Muscovites decided that the original name, VDNKh, should be used (it was renamed “Russian Exhibition Centre” in 1992), and the city got busy beautifying the area and restoring the pavilions and the complex’s landscape design masterpieces. Today, the renovation of 16 facilities has been completed, while the refurbishment of another 10 facilities’ facades and interiors has been completed and work is still underway at another 23.


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