Lenin Museum – Moscow, Russia - Atlas Obscura

Lenin Museum

One of the last examples of Soviet architectural propaganda has a few technological tricks up its sleeve. 


This museum in the Gorki Leninskiye estate might not have an embalmed corpse of a Soviet leader, but it was created to evoke the same mournful feeling. Located near the residence of the late Vladimir Lenin, it celebrates the achievements of Soviet Russia up until the leader’s death, from the creation of the Soviet Union to the nation’s electrification. 

The idea of a grand museum dedicated to Lenin was outlined in the early 1970s, but it took 15 years to be completed. One of its goals was to recapture public attention to Lenin as a historical figure. With the start of regular commemorations of the Soviet victory on the Eastern Front of World War I, the controversial figure of Joseph Stalin started to overshadow the founder of the USSR. 

Opened to the public in 1987, the Lenin Museum was designed as a multifunctional center to house party meetings or ceremonies for Young Pioneers. But four years later, both the USSR and its ideology collapsed, making the museum the most “modern” showcase of Communist ideology. In the 1990s, the museum displays were expanded to include documents and posters from the White Movement, which opposed the Red Army during the 1917-1922 Russian Civil War. It mostly leaves out Lenin’s role in the execution of Russian dissenters, deadly famines, and the construction of Soviet concentration camps.

One of the main attractions of Lenin Museums are “the cubes,” a series of three-dimensional glass displays. Inside each cube is a system of slide projectors, moving mirrors, decorations, and lights, controlled by the same Apple computer equipment that was imported from the West and installed in the 1980s.

The equipment is not the only thing kept intact by museum’s officials. One of the smaller halls houses unusual presents sent to the institution on various occasions. Most of them were made by Soviet plants and factories. As a result, the room is full of eccentric objects—for example, a bust of Lenin made of pressed granulated sugar.

Know Before You Go

Guided tours are held four times a day from Wednesday to Friday in Russian and English, although you need to book the latter in advance. The Lenin Museum is a part of Gorki Leninskiye Museum-Reserve, which also houses Lenin’s residence, a park, and several other museums. It’s possible to buy a ticket that covers the entire complex and several tours.

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October 3, 2019

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