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Kul’ttovary – Bringing Culture into the Soviet Home

Published September 18, 2017


The Florida State University Department of Interior Architecture & Design invites you to discover and experience its most recent gallery installation: Kul’ttovary. The exhibition of Soviet “cultural goods” coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The exhibition’s opening reception will take place in the William Johnston Building Gallery on Thursday, September 28th from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. The exhibition will remain up through November 4th with operating hours on Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Russian term Kul’ttovary translates roughly to “cultural goods.” Specified items, broadly available for purchase at affordable prices, would bring culture into workers’ and collective farmers’ homes. These items were art supplies, radios, records and phonographs, musical instruments, sports equipment, photo cameras, and toys. For decades, each city or town had at least one retail store called “Kul’ttovary.” The kul’ttovary 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.

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. The Communist Party’s first five-year plan set forth the twin goals of increasing the “cultural level” (“kul’turniy uroven”) of the urban and rural poor and connecting “cultural construction” (“kul’turnoye strioitelstvo”) with industrialization as mutual foundations of socialism. Through the 1920s and 1930s, tens of millions of peasants were relocated 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 economy.

Kul’ttovary – Bringing Culture into the Soviet Home is curated by Yelena McLane, a Specialized Faculty member in the Department of Interior Architecture & Design, and designed in collaboration with IA+D graduate students.

For more information, please contact Yelena McLane (ymclane@fsu.edu).

Click here to view the exhibition marketing poster: Kulttovary Poster RU