The exhibition “Old Apartment” at the Museum of Moscow opens a window into the everyday lives of Muscovites over the 20th century. Through the collection of carefully reconstructed apartment interiors, the exhibition explores how people lived and tells an expressive story of the city.

To enter the exhibition, you ascend a wooden ramp covered in black graffiti and find yourself in a typical Moscow apartment stairwell with metal post boxes mounted on the wall. The long narrow hallway brings you right into Tsarist Russia, where you find pictures of Romanovs above an intricately decorated fireplace — only to find them replaced by a picture of Vladimir Lenin in the next apartment interior.

The exhibition is split into three parts: the apartment interiors are located on the second floor, while the first floor recreates the unique atmosphere of Moscow courtyards. A separate part of the exhibition is dedicated to scarce household items of the Soviet period.

Alina Saprikina, the Museum of Moscow director, told The Moscow Times “All the exhibits are taken from the collections of the Museum of Moscow. These are items that were given to the museum by ordinary Muscovites, who brought personal items and family relics to the Museum of Moscow. Many items are imbued with family memories, which makes the exhibition even more interesting.”

Walk Down Memory Lane

The show lets visitors immerse themselves in the everyday lives of several generations of Muscovites as they pass through the cubbyhole of a pre-revolutionary Moscow factory worker, communal apartment interiors of the 1920s, a Khrushchev-period apartment, and a perestroika-era kitchen. Clothes dry above the sink in the communal kitchen and the radio blasts out the Soviet anthem early in the morning. Excerpts from diaries posted on the walls tell fascinating stories of people who lived in similar settings.

Each apartment evokes feelings of nostalgia in the visitors. “This couch is just like the one our grandma had,” a young woman tells her partner. “Everyone had a collection of these lapel pins,” a mother tells her son as she points to a large, colorful panel covered with Soviet lapel pins. The visitor’s book for the exhibition is filled with nostalgia: “I sent pictures of the exhibition to my mother and she wrote back ‘I wore a similar dress to the 30th birthday of your father, and he wore a red jacket’.”