President’s Column: November 2021

President’s Column: November 2021

Not all museums are public institutions like Te Papa. Some are private, the result of someone putting together a collection and then, when it was of sufficient weight and interest, making it available to the public. A wonderful example is the Museum of the Soviet Way of Life in Kazan, the capital of Tartarstan, Russian Federation. It is an eclectic collection of mundane objects: Lada badges, old ice hockey sticks, a framed pair of jeans, early digital watches, a poster for an AC/DC concert, a child’s pedal tricycle and my favourite, a poster of Yuri Gagarin modeled on an icon.

What makes this collection worth the entry price? You know that it is because it is heavily visited by the locals. If you look at each of these objects, they are evocative of a time which is now passed. So the young people in the museum look through it because it tells them about what life was like for their parents and grandparents. Their parents and grandparents bring them there to show them what life was like back then, objects familiar to them but not their offspring.

In one room there are seats and a television playing old black and white programmes of the Soviet period. People seem to sit there for a while to look at cartoons and soap operas. You might ask, by the way, why the jeans and in a frame? Jeans were only available if you knew someone who might be wearing them. You might even get them signed. They were not for sale in the shops. So they were valuable. You might frame a valuable object.

Koenraad Kuiper.

All images provided by K.Kuiper