Unique paintings and archival films: finds and discoveries made at VNDKh

October 15

Since 2014, during the work on the revival of the VDNKh original appearance and the comprehensive scientific restoration of its monuments, specialists have found many important artefacts. All of them are of historical and cultural value. For a long time, any artifacts were considered lost. Some were in poor condition and have been restored, others have yet to be restored, Natalia Sergunina, Deputy Moscow Mayor, said.

"The revival of VDNKh is a large-scale program, the fundamental direction of which is the restoration of architectural monuments. The Moscow Government launched it in 2014, as soon as the exhibition was handed over to the city. Over the past seven years, restorers have made more than 20 important discoveries. The original architectural decor, original paintings, archival films were found in the pavilions," Natalia Sergunina said.

New-found masterpieces

One of the first restoration finds was made in ‘Tsentralny’ Pavilion No. 1. So, in April 2014, during the work in Hall No. 9, specialists saw behind plywood a high relief of the sculptor Evgeny Vuchetich called ‘Glory to the Soviet People - the Standard-Bearer of the World!’. It was considered irretrievably lost for about 40 years.

The area of the high relief is 90 square meters. It depicts more than 1.5 thousand people. Plaster sculptures have suffered greatly from time. The craftsmen had to work hard to restore the damaged fragments, remove dirt, glue individual parts, seal up cracks and recreate the painting in the original color and tone. In total, the work took about a year.

In September 2014, another large-scale work of art, previously considered lost, was found in the same pavilion on the semi-basement floor. This is the ‘The Second All-Union Congress of Collective Farmers and Shock Workers of 1935’ painting on a canvas with size 6.75 x 11 meters. The canvas was created in 1953 by the artists team under the direction of Alexander Gerasimov.

А. Gerasimov. The Second All-Union Congress of Collective Farmers and Shock Workers in 1935. 1953. VDNKh Press Service

Unfortunately, the painting has reached our days in critical condition. To restore the painting, the State Research Institute of Restoration has developed a unique technique.

Among other finds the “Tsentralny’ Pavilion there is a fresco painting dated 1958 with scenes of harvesting. Among them, there is a view of a combine harvester found on the wall in the ‘Machine and Tractor Station’ hall. On another fresco fragment, the unknown artist depicted a factory.

VDNKh Press Service

Historical coats of arms and a unique chandelier

Many finds were found in ‘Cosmos (formerly ‘Mechanizatsiya’) Pavilion No. 34. For many years it was in disrepair, but it was carefully restored and adapted for modern use.

In the spring of 2017, experts opened and restored historical podiums decorated with breccia (slabs) with granite bases, as well as elements of the walls and door portals made of white marble, which were considered to be lost. During the restoration, the granite slabs found were used in the decoration of the boathouse, which was originally a hangar room and in 1939 was used for exhibition purposes.

VDNKh Press Service

As for the walls decoration elements and door portals made of white marble, they are well preserved. Specialists have got the details in order: cleared of layers and sanded them.

Also, 26 coats of arms were found in the dome base of the pavilion, which had been covered with canvases for a long time. Including the USSR coat of arms, 15 coats of arms of the Union republics and 10 industrial emblems. All of them have been restored and today decorate the building.

Another decoration of the ‘Cosmos’ Pavilion was the restored chandelier-star. It appeared here in 1954, when the pavilion was reconstructed for the exhibition post-war opening. A star weighing about a ton, which decorated one of the Kremlin towers from 1935 to 1937, was used as the compositional center of the chandelier. The unique structure was restored according to original design drawings.

Archival cine films

Today, in the VDNKh Museum located in the arch of the main entrance, you can see rare film shots of the 1950s – 1980s, telling about the achievements of Soviet science, technology and agriculture. Archival cine films were found in 2017 in the ‘Young Naturalists’ Pavilion No.8, ‘Oil Industry’ Pavilion No.25, ‘Geology’ Pavilion No. 31 and ‘Poultry farming’ Pavilion No.37.

About 100 color and black-and-white films turned out to be in the hands of specialists. At one time, they were used by local guides as a help: after the tour completion, they showed themed films for guests in small cinemas that were opened in many VDNKh pavilions.

To this day, films have been preserved telling about the work of Soviet poultry farmers, geologists, about the production of soft toys and much more. Some of the records were digitized, systematized and transferred to the museum of the exhibition complex.

VDNKh Press Service

Rare minerals, fragments of paintings and story bas-reliefs

Several finds were found during preparation for restoration of the ‘Geology’ (the former ‘Flax, Hemp and Bast Crops’) Pavilion No. 31. About 50 samples of minerals and ores brought from the Union Republics were found here. They were exhibited in the pavilion in the 1960s – 1980s and were subsequently considered to be lost. These are Ural bauxite, fluorites of Transbaikalia fields, and apatite ore from the Khibin, and antimonite from Kirghizia, and other geological samples. But the most valuable find was an 80-centimeter druse (mineral aggregates) of rock crystal weighing about 150 kilograms.

VDNKh Press Service

In addition, on the columns in the main hall, when clearing the plaster layer, the remains of rolled wallpaper were found, behind which experts found a well-preserved painting in the murals technique of 1958 depicting scenes of geologists life. This painting was included in the pavilion’s subject of being protected.

VDNKh Press Service

Fragments of paintings were also found in the ‘Physics’ (former ‘Latvian SSR’) Pavilion No. 5. The windows of the main facade were originally decorated with stained glass windows with urban landscapes and agricultural themes, but they have not reached our days. But on the walls of the central hall there are images of clover leaves, ribbons and ears in the grisaille technique (the painting is made in different tones of the same color), covered with a stencil pattern. Now the pavilion is under restoration. It is assumed that after the work completion, a museum of housing and utilities will be opened here.

VDNKh Press Service

Another surprise was waiting for specialists when demolishing the late brickwork of the facade of the ‘Chemistry’ (the former ‘Lithuanian SSR’) pavilion No. 6. Two bas-reliefs that decorated the wall of the building from 1954 to 1969 were found here: one depicts a milkmaid and a pig tender, the other - a harvest of vegetables, fruits and cereals. Both works are perfectly preserved. They are already available for guests on the central facade.

VDNKh Press Service

Similar artefacts were found during the restoration of ‘Metallurgy (former ‘Kazakh SSR’) Pavilion No. 11. In the 1960s, due to the exposition change, the building facade was closed with steel panels. Behind these false constructions, bas-reliefs of 1954 on the subject of agriculture in Kazakhstan by the sculptor Khasbulat Askar-Saryji were hidden. They were found in 2017. Fortunately, the bas-reliefs have been preserved quite well. Their preservation made it possible to examine in detail the figures of the people and animals depicted. Currently, the work in the pavilion has been completed. An exhibition and trade center of the Republic of Kazakhstan will be opened there in the near future.

VDNKh Press Service

Hidden details and an tracery tower

Today, the International Ballet Center is located in the ‘Nature Protection’ (former ‘Building Materials’) Pavilion No. 62. It was opened in 2017. And before that, during the building preparation and dust cleaning, the coat of arms of the USSR was found in the overhead stained glass window of the central hall. It was got in order, and now it is one of the pavilion decorations.

VDNKh Press Service

A year later, while studying the history of VDNKh, experts made an interesting discovery. It turned out that the tracery tower, located in a landscape park is the work of an outstanding avant-garde artist and architect El Lisitsky.

The tower was built in 1939. It is assumed that it pointed the way to the non-preserved ‘Pond Farming’ and ‘Fisheries’ pavilions. Initially, the tower was crowned with a sphere-scaphandre and silhouettes of two metal carps floating in different directions. As a result of the post-war reconstruction, carps were replaced with sturgeon, and later this detail was lost.

VDNKh Press Service

The next find at VDNKh was found in 2019, during the preparation for restoration of the ‘Microbiological Industry’ (formerly ‘Oil plants’) pavilion No. 30. Examining the ceilings of the building in the third hall, the masters saw a delicate floral ornament. The unique painting, located in the recesses of the vaults, was hidden under layers of paint. After clearing the surface, the restorers began to strengthen the support of the painting in order to get rid of cracks and restore the lost fragments.

VDNKh Press Service

Another unexpected find was found during the restoration of the ‘Young Naturalists’ pavilion No. 8. When the specialists started work, there was no sign on the building that decorated the main entrance in the 1950s. It was considered to be lost. As a result, it turned out that the ‘Young Naturalists’ original sign was hidden under the later ‘Young Naturalists and Technicians’ one of the 1959 model, and in the 1990s, a panel was installed on top of the entire structure.

It was decided to get in order (to clear the dirt and fix the letters) the both signs found. The original name will be seen again above the entrance to the pavilion after the restoration completion. The second sign is still inside the building, the issue of its exhibiting will be decided later.

VDNKh Press Service

In September 2020, when preparing for restoration of the ‘Optics (formerly ‘Leningrad and the North-West of RSFSR’) pavilion No. 64, specialists found a high relief ‘Festive Leningrad behind a false wall. It is in good condition. The sculptural composition is located at the end of the round hall of the Leningrad region. It depicts a festive demonstration against the background of the Vladimir Lenin monument at the Finlandsky railway station. The work belongs to a group of famous sculptors: Grigory Kosov, Vasily Stamov, Alexander Ovsyannikov and Alexey Timchenko. There is a similar panel at the Narvskaya metro station in St. Petersburg. At the moment, a project has been developed for the restoration of the ‘Optics’ pavilion No. 64 and this work is beginning.

At the moment, the latest find at VDNH was found in April of this year. Three decorative inscriptions, which, as it was believed, have not survived to this day, were found in the ‘National Education’ (formerly of the North Caucasus) Pavilion No. 2, where restoration is continuing today.

VDNKh Press Service

Two of the inscriptions found are excerpts from the resolution of the Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU on agriculture. Gilded, they decorated the walls of the side and central halls of the pavilion from 1954 to 1959. The inscriptions were found under layers of paint and plaster.

Experts have already cleared the finds of late layers. Now it is necessary to restore the letters. Archival documents and photographs will be taken as a basis.

Source: mos.ru

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