Legend revived: Alterations of famous VDNKh landmarks

December 30, 2020
Parks and pedestrian areas

The Friendship among Nations Fountain is blazing with gold. The Stone Flower fountain is glittering with what resemble semi-precious stones, and the Cosmos Pavilion has plenty of surprises among its hundreds of exhibits, including a mockup of the Orbital Station Mir. All these impressive results have been achieved by an ambitious VDNKh revival programme, launched in 2014. That same year, the exhibition complex got its historical name, the National Exhibition of Economic Achievements, back.

In the 1990s, the territory was called the All-Russian Exhibition Centre and resembled a large shashlik restaurant with lots of kiosks and BBQs. Many historical pavilions have now been restored, and modern public spaces improved. VDNKh has turned into a major educational, leisure and sports centre.

Today, people leafing through old photos find it hard to believe that, just a few years ago, the historical pavilions were bustling with disorganised trade, and many of the famous landmarks and monuments were simply crumbling to dust. If people browse through the following photos showing ten VDNKh cultural heritage landmarks long ago and today they will notice why their new eye-riveting style is so much appreciated.

The Central Alley’s fountains: 14 VDNKh pearls

Located near the Main Entrance, the Central Alley’s 14 fountains first started spewing out water in 1954. This is the first thing that people entering VDNKh grounds see. In the first 50 years when they were working, the fountains fell into disrepair, with their concrete bowls and granite tiles becoming damaged.

The city finished restoring the fountains in the summer of 2018. All the work was conducted under 1954 documentation showing the fountains’ original design. Specialists restored the concrete bowls and pits, renewed granite tiles, bowl edges and the decorative cast iron elements. They also replaced all utility mains.

VDNKh press service

The Friendship among Nations Fountain, one of Moscow’s symbols

Installed in 1954, the Friendship among Nations Fountain reopened in April 2019 after the first-ever restoration project. It took engineers six months to completely upgrade its water supply system, to reinforce frames and to improve historical elements. The figures of 16 young women symbolising the former Soviet republics were restored in four months, with experts needing to apply about five kg of gold leaf to complete the job.

The Friendship among Nations Fountain makes many people happy again.

VDNKh press service


Pavilion 71: From RSFSR to Public Services Palace

Pavilion 71 was completed in 1954 and named RSFSR. In 1964, it accommodated the Atomic Energy exhibition.

The pavilion turned into an improvised shopping centre after the breakup of the Soviet Union, with several dozen kiosks selling clothes, footwear and musical instruments. It took four years to restore the building.

The upgraded pavilion now houses the Public Services Palace with 20 reception desks, a leisure area and a playroom for children. The Civil Service History Museum is also located there. 

VDNKh press service

Pavilion 13: From medication kiosks to Roerich’s art

Pavilion 13, one of the VDNKh’s first, was completed in 1939 and called Armenian SSR. In 1964, the two-year Food Industry exhibition opened there. The pavilion has been named Healthcare since 1967.

Businesses selling medication and medical equipment occupied the pavilion in the 1990s. About 100 kiosks were located there.

Under the two-stage restoration project, the fake façade and extensions dating back to the 1990s were dismantled in 2014. Experts restored the façade in 2017-2018, rebuilt the three-section portal and recreated decorative arch grates. The pavilion accommodates the exhibition Preserving Culture: Roerich Artists’ Museum at VDNKh, opened by the Museum of the Orient, since April 2019.

VDNKh press service

Pavilion 14: Republic of Azerbaijan

Completed in 1939, Pavilion 14 was called Azerbaijani SSR and renamed Computer Technology in 1964. The achievements of Azerbaijan are displayed there once again, following the 1990s and the early 2000s.

After the Soviet Union’s disintegration, shashlik, Shaurma and alcoholic beverages were sold there. The city started restoring the pavilion in 2014, specialists dismantled the fake façade, restored the decorative parts of the historical façades and the 1939 interiors. They recreated two fountain bowls, ceramic tiles and the Shepherd and Azerbaijani Woman historical sculptures.

Azerbaijan’s shopping and exhibition centre opened there in November 2019.

VDNKh press service

The powerful and grandiose Stone Flower Fountain

The Stone Flower Fountain was put in place in 1954 and ranks among the main VDNKh fountains. By 1990 it had become rundown and only about 50 percent of it was really working properly. 

The restoration works of the fountain got underway in 2018. The historical colour hues were returned using its surviving mosaic elements and about eight tonnes of smalt.

VDNKh press service

Pavilion 58: From corporate parties to unique display

Built in 1954, Pavilion 58 initially housed an exhibition dealing with the Ukrainian SSR. In the 2000s, the building was the venue for exhibitions, festivals and corporate parties. The city began to restore it in 2017,

Experts renovated its façade and decorative parapet and restored the historical sculptures on the pavilion’s roof. They recreated terrazzo floors, restored the spire and the Pereyaslavl Rada stained glass window, one of the pavilion’s main attractions.

The restoration job ended in the spring of 2019, with the pavilion accommodating the Slovo (Word) Slavic Writing Centre. Scientists, font experts and other specialists worked hard to complete the unique display.

VDNKh press service

Flowerbeds near fountains: Back to the 1950s

Flower parterres are located all alongside VDNKh fountains. Six years ago, gardeners lacked any system for putting the flowerbeds in place. A parterre between the Friendship among Nations and Stone Flower fountains remained empty for quite a few years.

The Central Alley’s renovated parterres look exactly like they did in the 1950s.

Trimmed Cotoneaster shrubs and cone-shaped Thuja trees were planted near the 14 fountains. Flower groups shaped like four-leaf plants divide the spaces between the fountains. White canna lilies, sage and cineraria create the main accent with tulips in the spring.

VDNKh’s flower parterres were awarded the Moscow Restoration 2017 Prize in the category Garden and Park Art and Landscaping Architecture Objects.

VDNKh press service

Pavilion 34: Cosmonautics and Aviation Centre

Pavilion 34 Cosmos was completed in 1939 and named Mechanisation. At that time, it resembled a huge slipway. A hall with a huge dome was added to it in 1984. The pavilion changed gradually over the years. In the 1990s, they sold Chinese appliances and saplings there. The pavilion was also the venue of parties and even pig races.

VDNKh press service

The city moved to restore the pavilion in 2017. Workers reinforced its foundation and glass roof and put up a chandelier, an exact replica of a Kremlin star, and plaster reliefs. The project was completed in 2018 after the Cosmonautics and Aviation Centre opened there. It became the largest national space museum.

VDNKh press service

VDNKh’s most powerful Golden Wheat Ear Fountain  

The Golden Wheat Spike Fountain is the exhibition centre’s third-largest historical fountain. Installed in 1954, it gradually became dilapidated and was switched off all together in the 1990s.

Experts started the restoration job of the fountain in 2016 and completed the project in the summer of 2018, restoring the composition’s 1954 appearance. Restorers covered the fountain with golden and coloured-glass smalt. The fountain now has the most powerful local water pumps, with 30 of its 66 streams soaring up to 25 metres into the sky.

VDNKh press service
Source: mos.ru

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