Industrial History in the Urals

One afternoon session in Yekaterinburg was devoted to ways of interpreting and promoting industrial history, particularly of this region. This is a rich aspect of this region and presenters, all from Russia, shared both their innovative approaches and the challenges they face.

Contemporary art as a tool of regeneration of industrial areas was discussed by Alisa Prudnikova, Director, NCCA-Ural. Industrial biennale in Yekaterinburg. Biennales are are art world staple, attracting great attention, but this Biennale takes a unique approach, where artists from around the world focus on industry; using materials and processes as inspiration.  Ivan Grinko, Head of Museum, Design Laboratory, Heritage Institute also used design and creativity as a framework for his presentation, which explored the ways in which museums use maps, both on the territory and in the museum itself.

Not from the Urals, but from Moscow, was Irina Korobina, Director, Schusev State Museum of Architecture, in Moscow who discussed the museum’s rich collections in architectural history, particularly related to constructivism, and their plans to regenerate a neglected industrial area of Moscow into a cultural hub.   Needless to say, finding an appropriate location in Moscow presents major challenges.

The session also included presentations on factory museums, ranging from the development of the M.T. Kalashnikov Museum and Exhibition Small Arms Complex at the Izhevsk firearms factory and the Tankprom Museum.

It seemed clear that there are as many solutions for the revitalization of industrial sites as there are sites themselves.  For some, it might be contemporary art; for others, it might be the development of a museum as tourist attraction.  In any case, industrial history represents a vital asset of the Urals, well worth continuing development.



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