This fall the WJB Gallery features Kul’ttovary: Bringing Culture into the Soviet Home, an exhibition curated by Yelena McLane and designed in collaboration with her students in the Department of Interior Architecture & Design. This exhibition of consumer goods from Soviet-era Russia coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Bolshevik government recognized the importance of sports, literacy, and the arts in building a new state and a new way of life. Through the 1920s and 1930s, the Communist Party relocated tens of millions of peasants to cities and construction sites. Increasing their exposure to artistic and cultural activities was intended to raise self-esteem, inspire volunteerism, and encourage the discipline and accountability necessary for the Soviet planned economy.
To this end, specified kul’ttovary (“cultural goods”) were made broadly available for purchase at affordable prices, with the goal of bringing culture into the homes of new city workers and collective farmers. These items included art supplies, radios, records and phonographs, musical instruments, sports equipment, photo cameras, and toys. For decades, each city and town had at least one retail store called “Kul’ttovary.” The phenomenon was widespread in Russia from the late 1920s into the 1960s, at which point the previously ubiquitous Kul’ttovary stores yielded to shops with narrower specializations, consistent with broader changes in the Soviet retail industry. The objects selected for the exhibition were designed and manufactured in the USSR and are representative of the range of kul’ttovary common to almost every Soviet home.
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 28, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Exhibition Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
For more information, please contact Yelena McLane.