The Kosygin Phenomenon
November 16, 2016 – February 28, 2017
Organisers: Federal Archival Agency, State Archive of the Russian Federation, Ekaterina Cultural Foundation
The Kosygin Phenomenon historical and documentary exhibition was organized by the State Archive of the Russian Federation in cooperation with the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation. This biographical project is part of the Soviet Era Leaders exhibition programme run by the Federal Archival Agency. The exhibition, held at the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation's building in Kuznetsky Most street in central Moscow, chronicles the life and political career of Aleksey Kosygin within the context of his historical era. The project aims to portray Aleksey Kosygin as an outstanding person and prominent statesman that he was, with his life being closely intertwined with that of the Soviet Union. During his long political career, Kosygin held various key posts in the Soviet government and was well aware of the burden of responsibility that came with it and thought it was his duty to serve his country and the Soviet people, who he endured all the hardships and shared all the triumphs with.
"The exhibition dedicated to my great grandfather Aleksey Kosygin is an unusual but important project for the Foundation. It was first conceived back in 2004, a hundred years since the birth of this extraordinary man. We've been thinking for quite a while how we could best realize this challenging ambition and tell the story of Kosygin's life and career in an up-to-date and captivating way. Our exhibition is dedicated to his exceptional way up from being a Red Army volunteer, an industrial manager in Siberia and a mastermind behind the "Road of Life" to besieged Leningrad during World War II to becoming the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, a statesman whose political career spanned four decades. Aleksey Kosygin was head of the Soviet government for 16 years and proved himself as an effective economic administrator and a notable diplomat, known for his peacemaking initiatives."
Ekaterina and Vladimir Semenikhin
The exhibition features authentic documents and photographs, objects from the personal archive of Aleksey Kosygin's family, works of art from major museums, artefacts of his time, records and video interviews. All these sources and documents reflect key moments of Kosygin's life and the country's history, they illustrate various Soviet achievements Kosygin contributed to: evacuating people from the besieged Leningrad, resolving wartime economic problems, repurposing factories after World War II was over, carrying out economic reforms, modernizing the country's industry, setting up its oil and gas production and so much more.
"We remember our grandfather Aleksey Kosygin as a serious, courageous and honorable man. He was a natural leader who was capable of correctly evaluating the current situation. Kosygin combined flexibility and the ability to take a principled straightforward stand. More often than not this stand proved to be the right one when it came to people around him, as well as events and circumstances. These qualities helped him successfully defend things he considered to be right, during certain periods of this country’s history."
Aleksey Gvishiani, academic advisor, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Tatiana Gvishiani-Kosygina (Aleksey Kosygin's grandchildren)
Aleksey Kosygin held various positions in the Soviet government for more than 40 years and did his best to improve the living standards in the country. And he did manage to make the lives of ordinary Soviet people better in many ways – Saturdays were made an official day off, people were given more opportunities to spend their vacations away from home, at seaside resorts and sanatoriums, the country's traffic and transportation system developed, more consumer goods became available, both produced domestically and imported from the West, colour television with more than just one channel was introduced, a fund was set up following Kosygin’s reforms to pay quarterly and end-of-year bonuses from. Kosygin's other priorities included developing the intelligentsia as an integral part of the society. Members of the intelligentsia were given more and more key roles in the country; people were given better education opportunities as government channeled resources to create and support higher education institutions and the Academy of Science, something that resulted in a breakthrough for Soviet science in the 1960s and 1970s. Aleksey Kosygin was a driving force behind a series of effective economic projects – actively developing the country’s oil and gas industry, boosting cooperation with other countries in extracting and processing mineral deposits, setting up numerous joint enterprises. Kosygin masterminded the USSR's first set of economic reforms under the socialist government, incorporating elements of market economy into the country’s economic system.
The exhibition is arranged in chronological order and consists of several sections covering the statesman's whole life – from Aleksey Kosygin's childhood to his legacy, with one of the section solely devoted to his work during World War II. Other major themes include economic reforms, Kosygin’s key foreign visits and the USSR's international ties during his time in office as the Chairman of the Council of Ministers. One of the halls is dedicated to Aleksey Kosygin's family.
While preparing the exhibition, the staff of the State Archive of the Russian Federation and that of the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation carried out some serious research, handpicking materials from Russia's biggest state archives as well as private archives and collections to be used for the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue. Many of the documents have never been publicly exhibited before. The exhibition also features paintings and works of graphic art provided by the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Museum of Oriental Art, the Russian State Library, the Institute of Russian Realist Art, the State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO, as well as artefacts of the Kosygin era provided by the Polytechnic Museum and the Museum of Moscow.
Taking part in the exhibition are the following institutions:
• Russian State Military Archive
• Russian State Documentary Film and Photo Archive
• Russian State Archive of Contemporary History
• Russian State Archive of Social and Political History
• Russian State Archive of Phonodocuments
• Russian State Archive of Economics
• Archive of the President of the Russian Federation
• Department of History and Records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
• Foreign Policy Archive of the Department of History and Records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
• State Archive of Novosibirsk Oblast
• Central State Archive of Saint Petersburg
• Central State Historical Archive of Saint Petersburg
• Central State Archive of Historical and Political Documents of Saint Petersburg
• Central State Archive of Film, Photo and Phonodocuments of Saint Petersburg
• TASS News Agency
• Rossiya Segodnya international news agency
• Federal Guard Service of the Russian Federation
• Archive of Aleksey Kosygin’s family
• Military Historical Museum of the Black Sea Fleet of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
• State Historical Museum
• State Museum of Oriental Art
• State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSIZO
• State Tretyakov Gallery
• Institute of Russian Realist Art
• Museum of History of the Saint Petersburg State University of Technology and Design
• Museum of presents to Aleksey Kosygin of the Arkhangelsk secondary school named after Aleksey Kosygin
• Museum of Moscow
• Polytechnic Museum
• Russian State Library
• Artists Union of Russia
• Private collections