Friday, October 19, 2012

Moscow, Day 3

Statue of Yuri Gagarin in the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics.  

We finished up our last couple of days by heading out to the Monument to Conquerors of Space (love the name) and the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics which is housed underneath the monument.  Upon entering the museum, a nice but stern museum worker ushered us into a theater watch a film about the history of Soviet-Russian space exploration, all in Russian of course. The soundtrack was perfect Tangerine Dream-esque 80's synth while Cosmonauts floated in zero-Gs. The museum itself had awesome Soviet era spacesuits, a replica of Sputnik, the actual taxidermied dogs, Belka and Strelka, that went into space and the actual capsule that Yuri Gagarin used to return to Earth after his orbit.

Entrance to the All Russia Exhibition Center. 

Once known as the Space Pavilion, this building now houses garden supply vendors.
Then we walked over to what is now called the All Russia Exhibition Center. When it was originally conceived and built in the 1930's it was called the USSR Economic Achievement Exhibition (VDNKh) and was like a world's fair for Soviet idealism. There are pavilions for most of the former Soviet states (Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, etc.) There are also pavilions representing different aspects of the successes of communism (atomic energy, space, engineering, radioelectronics, etc.). Today, it's sprawling grounds and architecture are still extremely impressive but inside the buildings, crappy 'capitalist' vendors give the place what I would call a 'dirt mall' vibe.