Pearls of Russia
Museums and memorial estates
Memorial Museum of Space Exploration
If you happen to visit the area surrounding Moscow's VDNKh subway station, you will immediately notice the majestic spire of the monument To the Conquerors of Space. This monument was built in 1964 to commemorate the launch of Sputnik, the Earth's first artificial satellite. The silver rocket, soaring to a height of 100 meters (330 ft.), seems eternally frozen in space and time. The rocket rests on a stream of titanium, which glows with magical red flame as it reflects the setting sun. The stream broadens as it nears the earth, so that the monument rests securely on a foundation of granite. A statue of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the founder of theoretical astronautics, stands on the granite pedestal at the foot of the pylon, seeing the rocket off on its journey to the stars. The side walls of the monument are decorated with bronze figures in high relief, which embody the central purpose of the composition: to celebrate the efforts of the scholars, engineers, and workers who create spacecraft. Indeed, the work was entitled The People as Creator by its designers (M. O. Barshch, A. N. Kolchin, and A. P. Faidysh-Krandievskii). The memorial display continues with the "Avenue of the Cosmonauts," which contains sculptured likenesses of prominent scholars (Sergei Korolev, Mstislav Keldysh) and cosmonauts (Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova, Pavel Belyaev, Aleksei Leonov, and Vladimir Komarov).
On the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the flight of Gagarin, the first "Ambassador of Planet Earth," one of the most interesting museums in Moscow was opened for visitors the Memorial Museum of Space Exploration, located in the base of the great monument. This museum was the brainchild of Sergei Korolev, the chief designer of Soviet spacecraft.
A tour of the museum begins in the spacious foyer, which contains exhibits dedicated to important dates in space exploration. Also on display are works by space artists; some well-known, others just beginning their careers. Then the panels of the door to the main hall slide apart, and you find yourself in the unknown, fantastic world of the cosmos. The whimsically shaped glass luminaries at your feet create the impression of enchanting alien flowers, their petals iridescing with weird colors. The interior decor the night-sky-colored carpeting, the arched vault of the ceiling, and even the lighting creates the impression that you are indeed in the realm of the Universe, lost in its silence, eternity, and infinity. This impression grows stronger as you gaze at the far wall, which is taken up by an enormous stained-glass window. Made from molded crystal, it glitters with the colors of space, which, cosmonauts say, are brighter and more vivid than those of earth. Against this backdrop stands an enormous globe, on which the Zodiac and other constellations are depicted as they were mapped by the seventeenth-century Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius. In the foreground of this distinctive composition there stands a five-meter (16 ft.) bronze statue of a cosmonaut. The window with the cosmonaut is the focal point of the museum's unique artistic display, which was designed by O. P. Lomako and his team of talented architects, artists, designers, sculptors, and museum specialists. The arrangement of the exhibits themselves is also rather extraordinary. Most of the spacecraft are displayed in such a way as to create the impression that they have just returned to our planet, or continue to function in their faraway orbits. The most important Russian and Soviet achievements in space exploration are represented in six display areas. Special attention is devoted to historic events such as the launch of the first artificial satellite, the first manned space flight, the first spacewalk, and other milestones of the Space Age. Also part of the exhibit are several short video presentations on space exploration. Most of these were created especially for the museum.
The tour concludes in the theater with a viewing of the slide show "Dreams of the Cosmos." The interior of the theater forms a single spatial composition: a silver support framework, filled with curved mirrors, and the Starship of the Future, which seems to hover in the weightlessness of space. The viewer sits inside this abstract "spacecraft," gazes at the giant curved screen, and is drawn into a wondrous new world as the lights go out and an extraordinary presentation of color and sound begins. For twenty minutes, the viewer is cut off from the hassle of everyday life, is transported to the tranquil, majestic, enigmatic depths of the cosmos, and experiences for himself the beauty of our Earth.
The museum enjoys great popularity among Russians as well as foreign tourists, and is visited by about 100 thousand people yearly. Mobile exhibits have been displayed in many Russian cities, and were also received with great success abroad, traveling to Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, India, the United States, Finland, and other countries. The museum's collections number more than 50 thousand individual items. These include documents, films, photographic material, and other objects related to space exploration, as well as coins, stamps, and artwork. These items are studied by scholars from the museum staff and other research institutions. The museum has a well-stocked library containing unique publications in the field of astronautics.
Not far from the space monument, at the beginning of Pervaya Ostankinskaya Street, there is a branch of the Memorial Museum of Space Exploration, the Sergei Korolev Apartment Museum. Here you can learn about this remarkable scholar, whose name is inseparably linked with the beginning of the Space Age.
If you have ever longed to sense the mystery and turmoil of the vast Universe, in which you are but a particle. . . to experience the greatness and achievements of humanity. . . to get a first-hand look at space vehicles and interplanetary probes. . . to learn how cosmonauts live and work in orbit. . . . . . your journey into the cosmos begins here.
The address: 111, Peace avenue, Moscow,Russia, 129515
Phones: 283-79-14, 283-18-37.
The nearest metro station is "VDNCh".