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Photo by M. Denisov.

The restoration of the historic lanterns continues. Now in the workshops are the famous lamps “Light Volume”: they are cleaned of paint layers.

A unique lighting system helps to recreate the historical appearance of VDNKh of the 1950s. Today it consists of lantern samples from the 30s and 50s of the last century, as well as modern poles. By 2014, when the large-scale program for the revival of VDNKh was launched, the historical lanterns were in disrepair, but over the past six years, restorers and technical service specialists have carried out extensive work to restore them.

Masterpieces of the past

Visitors to the 1939 All-Union Agricultural Exhibition saw lanterns of several types, which were approved by the first chief architect Vyacheslav Oltarzhevsky. Most of the lanterns were spherical. It has become a kind of tradition.

In the 1950s, the architectural concept of the exhibition changed, which also determined the configuration of the lighting system. About two hundred supports were used for fundamentally new lamp structures. These were “Kolos” (“Beam”) lanterns with masts 15 and 19 meters high. They were developed in September 1950 by the architect Leonid Fishbein and specialists from the Architectural and Design Workshop for the exterior design of the city of Moscow. 30 of these lanterns still adorn the Central Alley.

By the way, the Kolos lanterns did not work for a long time: they went out for almost 20 years after the 1980 Summer Olympic Games due to the lack of unique 80-centimeter lamps in the USSR. The central alley of the exhibition was illuminated by temporary spotlights fixed above it by cables. Only in 1997 were the emergency repairs carried out.

The brightest and most impressive lanterns illuminating the central squares of VDNKh are balls with wreaths. There are 28 of them in total. The project was also developed by Leonid Fishbein. Until 2018, the lamps were attached only on one tier, but after reconstruction they were restored on the second one. In addition, we selected lamps close to the original in the shape of milky balls.

In several stages

Work on the restoration of the lanterns began in 2014–2017. Then about 200 lighting poles were installed. Some were placed in the green theater area and on peripheral roads. Particular attention was paid to 24 supports near the Stone Flower fountain. They are cast in cast iron and are made to match the historic pillars of 1939.

Large-scale works on the improvement of the Central Alley were carried out from May 10 to June 1, 2018. Then 58 restored historical lanterns were installed. Their technical characteristics fully meet all modern requirements, and the equipment is adapted to the Moscow climate. The installation was carried out in turn so that the territory of VDNKh was sufficiently illuminated at all times.

Lanterns have been recreated with full preservation of their historical appearance, unique features and decorative elements. The lost elements of supports, brackets, plinths and other fragments were restored according to archival drawings and photographs.

The unusual lanterns-flagpoles, which are on the way to the exhibition, were also restored. Their distinctive feature is beautiful cast plinths, each of which depicts garlands of agricultural plants.

Now in restoration workshops are the famous lamps “Light volume”, where they are cleared of late colorful layers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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