VDNKh (Russia)

VDNKh is a permanent general purpose trade show and amusement park in Moscow since 1935

View from the Ferris wheel
pinterest button

Between 1991 and 2014 it was also called the All-Russia Exhibition Centre. It is a state joint-stock company.

The main entrance to All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, Moscow
pinterest button The main entrance to All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, Moscow Amigo, CC BY-SA 3.0

Location and transportation

VDNKh is located in Ostankinsky District of Moscow, less than a kilometer from Ostankino Tower. It is served by VDNKh subway station, as well as by Moscow Monorail. Cosmonauts Alley and the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman statue are situated just outside the main entrance to VDNKh. It also borders Moscow Botanical Garden and a smaller Ostankino Park, and in recent years the three parks served as a united park complex.

History

1935–1939 construction

The exhibition was established February 17, 1935 as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV) (Russian: Всесоюзная Сельско-Хозяйственная Выставка Vsesoyuznaya Selsko-Khozyaystvennaya Vystavka).

An existing site (then known as Ostankino Park, a country territory recently incorporated into the city limits), was approved in August 1935.

The master plan by Vyacheslav Oltarzhevsky was approved in April 1936, and the first show season was announced to begin in July 1937.

Pavilion of Leningrad
pinterest button Pavilion of Leningrad unknown, Public Domain

However, plans did not materialise, and three weeks before the deadline Joseph Stalin personally postponed the exhibition by one year (to August 1938).

Pavilion of Armenia, portal
pinterest button Pavilion of Armenia, portal unknown, CC BY-SA 3.0

It seemed that this time everything would be ready on time, but again the builders failed to complete their work, and regional authorities failed to select and deliver proper exhibits.

Pavilion of Kyrgyzstan
pinterest button Pavilion of Kyrgyzstan shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0

Some pavilions and the 1937 entrance gates by Oltarzhevsky were torn down to be replaced with more appropriate structures (most pavilions were criticised for having no windows).

Pavilion of Belarus
pinterest button Pavilion of Belarus Vladimir OKC, Public Domain

According to Oltarzhevsky's original plan, all of the pavilions were to be constructed from wood.

Pavilion of Karelia
pinterest button Pavilion of Karelia shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1938, a government commission examined the construction and decided that it did not suit the ideological direction of the moment.

Pavilion of Kazakhstan
pinterest button Pavilion of Kazakhstan unknown, Green Copyright

The exhibition was considered too modest and too temporary. Oltarzhevsky was arrested, together with the Commissar for Agriculture and his staff, and eventually released in 1943. Later, he worked on the 1947—1953 Moscow skyscraper project.

Pavilion of Armenia
pinterest button Pavilion of Armenia Elegant's, Public Domain

As a result, in August 1938 Nikita Khrushchev, speaking at the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union assembly, declared that the site is not ready, and the opening was extended to August 1939.

Pavilion of Turkmenistan
pinterest button Pavilion of Turkmenistan Boch-boris, Public Domain

It opened indeed August 1, 1939, and worked in 8AM — 11PM mode until October 25 (40,000 daily attendance). 1940 and 1941 seasons followed; after the German invasion, July 1, 1941 the exhibition was closed — until the end of World War II.

Pavilion of North Caucasus
pinterest button Pavilion of North Caucasus shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0

1948–1959 renovation

In October 1948 the State ordered the renewal of the Exhibition, starting with the 1950 season. Again, the opening was postponed more than once; the first post-war season opened in 1954 (still as Agricultural exhibition).

Space pavilion, 1980
pinterest button Space pavilion, 1980 Felix Maschek, CC BY-SA 3.0

In the 1956 season the planners set aside an Industrial area within the main territory; more restructuring and rebuilding followed.

Present-day Cosmos pavilion is one of 1939 originals, remodeled during the 1950s. The rocket shape replaced Stalin's figure (of about the same size).[14]
pinterest button Present-day Cosmos pavilion is one of 1939 originals, remodeled during the 1950s. The rocket shape replaced Stalin's figure (of about the same size).[14] EugeneZelenko, GNU 1.2

In 1959 the park was renamed Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy or VDNKh.

The center of oceanography and marine biology “Moskvarium”
pinterest button The center of oceanography and marine biology “Moskvarium” Frieze, CC BY-SA 3.0

By 1989 the exhibition had 82 pavilions with an exhibition area of 700,000 square metres. Each pavilion (including the 1939 «regions») had been dedicated to a particular industry or field: the Engineering Pavilion (1954), the Space Pavilion (1966), the Atomic Energy Pavilion (1954), the People's Education Pavilion (1954), the Radioelectronics Pavilion (1958), the Soviet Culture Pavilion (1964).

The Propylaea - the central gate entrance
pinterest button The Propylaea — the central gate entrance EugeneZelenko, GNU 1.2

During Soviet times, each year VDNKh hosted more than 300 national and international exhibitions and many conferences, seminars and meetings of scientists and industry professionals.

Central Pavilion
pinterest button Central Pavilion EugeneZelenko, GNU 1.2

These events attracted about 11 million visitors annually, including 600,000 guests from outside the Soviet Union. The «Radioelectronics» exhibition hall for some years housed the working (and unique) prototypes of the most advanced ES EVM computers to date, which were time-shared by many research organisations right on the premises.

Central avenue
pinterest button Central avenue Michael Kauffmann, CC BY 3.0

The most memorable feature of the exhibition site was the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa) staue, featuring the gigantic figures of a man and woman holding together the famous «hammer and sickle».

The sculpture, which reaches 25 meters toward the sky, was designed by Vera Mukhina and originally crowned the 35-meter-tall Soviet pavilion at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937). The statue featured on a logo of Mosfilm, Russia's largest movie studio.

Moscow-850 with both open and enclosed cars visible
pinterest button Moscow-850 with both open and enclosed cars visible Tassadar, GNU 1.2

Present day

In 1992, VDNKh was renamed, receiving the new acronym VVC, which remained in use until 2014. It occupies 2,375,000 square metres of which 266,000 square metres are used for indoor exhibits.

The fountains at the entrance boulvards
pinterest button The fountains at the entrance boulvards Lite, GNU 1.2

The territory of VDNKh is greater than that of the Principality of Monaco and has approximately 400 buildings. Inadequate maintenance of Vera Mukhina's statue caused such disrepair that the statue was disassembled (see 2006 photographs of what's left).

The central pavilion in 1937 near the tower and
pinterest button The central pavilion in 1937 near the tower and «The tractor driver and the wife of the Suabahuz statue» on the top before removing to the central gate неизвестен, Public Domain

It was slated to be refurbished and installed on the top of the new pavilion by 2008, but funding shortages lead to dragged-out restoration. It was finally reerected in December 2009, now standing atop of a large constructivist pavilion, apparently recreating the original exhibition pavilion from the 1937 World's Fair in Paris that it was designed for.

The center «VDNKh» (or VVTs) still works including the name of a nearby subway station and some sights:

  • pavilions
  • fountains
  • a luna-park
  • Cosmonautics museum
  • a rocket and even a Buran spaceсraft
  • The center of oceanography and marine biology “Moskvarium”: 80 aquariums, 8000 species of sea creatures from all over the world including 500 species of fishes, killer whales, three meter sharks, dolphins and Russian sturgeon.

During winter, VDNKh converts into a main Skating Rink with a total area of 60,000 square metres (645,835 sq ft) and the ice surface of more than 20,000 square metres (215,278 sq ft), with a capacity of 4,500 people that can use the rink at the same time. It's the biggest skating rink in Russia and Europe.

Restoration

On 14 May 2014 the previous name VDNKh was restored, following an interactive poll. In addition, the mayor of Moscow announced that the Russian space shuttle, the structural test article -TVA, which was an attraction and restaurant at Gorky Park in Moscow was to be moved to the VNDKh, to be displayed near the Vostok rocket in front of the Cosmos hall. It was moved 5–6 July 2014 and re-assembled by July 21.

Currently, the larger international exhibitions are mostly held at the new facilities of Moscow Expo Center.

Useful Information

VDNKh
Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva
Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy;
Russian: ВДНХ
pronounced "ve-de-en-kha"

Admission

free

Opening hours

  • 9:00–23:00

Contacts

119, Mira avenue, Moscow, 129223

The site

The exhibition center was rebuilt by the vision of Joseph Stalin to create a cultural center by a Soviet city figure that glorify the ideology of communism and socialism.

The place that was selected was Moscow's northern suburb called "Ostankino". The main planner was the architect Vyacheslav Oltarzhevsky who was planning a central avenue with fountains with small roads and at the end of the avenue a big square facing the central pavilion.

A statue of Vladimir Lenin used to stand in the front of the pavilion. In the central square there is a big fountain called "the friendship of people fountain" which was created to glorify the people of the Soviet Union pending later there is another fountain that called "The Stone Flower Fountain" facing the "Ukraine Pavilion".

Later there is another little square facing the Space Pavilion which in the center of the square standing a Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft, placed there in the 1960s after the pavilion of "Agricultural machinery" become the "Cosmos pavilion". A big statue of Joseph Stalin stood in the square until 1948. This had previously stood on the banks of the Moskva River in the center of the city. the square is called "The Industrial Square".

The northern area of the site is a common area between the exhibition center and the botanic garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences nearby and in it an agricultural pavilions and estate Pools vegetation with the "Michurin's Garden" and the "golden spike fountain". All the fountains in the center are covered with gold. There are also many statues scattered on site and especially statues of the leaders of the Soviet Union. In addition in the site there are also cinemas, cafe houses, theatre pavilions and also a church built after the fall of the Soviet Union.

In the southern area of the site near the central entrance there is an Amusement Park with the Moscow-850 Ferris wheel, built in 2004 as part of Moscow's 850th anniversary celebrations. also built the restored pavilion of the soviet pavilion that was on Expo 67 that was in 1967 in Montreal and become the "Moscow pavilion". All the pavilions and the fountains were planned by Soviet architects and the fountains were designed by Soviet artists. All designed in Stalinist architecture, some pavilions were built in wedding cake style like the "central pavilion" that was famous in the communist states in that time.

In 2008 the "big constructivist pavilion" was built as a replica of the original Soviet pavilion of 1937 Expo that stood opposite the Nazi pavilion. In 2009 the renovated Statue of Worker and Kolkhoz woman was erected on top of that building.

In 1954 building the gates with the central entrance gate and the "Tractor driver and Sovkhoz woman" statue that was stood near the central pavilion in the 1930s. To the center exhibitions there are six gates and today can be rent a car or bicycles that can be used to travel around the site.