1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow was the first introduction of the USA to Soviet people. It went with great success and was attended by millions of Soviet people. Who knows, may be it was the first nail hammered into the USSR coffin.
First of all, I have to say, that I’m sorry about possibly wrong information published in “Dior Fashion Show in Moscow 1959” post. I’ve got confused by the information published on other blogs. Most probably it wasn’t Dior fashion show. I was unable to find any evidence of such event in Moscow in 1959. By accident, I found post about “1959 American National Exhibition” in Soloniki park in Moscow. It is possible, that Dior fashion show was going in parallel or as a part of that exhibition. I don’t have any proof, but I’m tempting to believe, pictures were taken from the exhibition or that was a demonstration of the USA fashion in 1959.
Here is brief description of the 1959 American National Exhibition taken from U.S. Department of State website:
This exhibition was the setting of the famous “kitchen debate” between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. This was the first United States national exhibition mounted in the Soviet Union and proved to be a successful collaboration between several U.S. Government agencies and the private sector. American National Exhibition covered all aspects of American life and culture and was visited by 2.7 million Soviets during the summer of 1959.
American National Exhibition exhibition followed similar Soviet exhibition in New York City earlier that year. Americans build roads, pathways and tents for exhibition. Key element of the exhibition was huge pavilion 64m in diameter and 30m in height. USA government spent $3.5 millions for that exhibition.
Think about this: during first day 75 thousand people have visited exhibition and 2.7 million of people attended exhibition during its 6 weeks duration. None of the USSR events has gathered such amount of people.
It featured many displays of the latest home appliances, fashions, television and Hi-Fi sets, a model house priced to sell to an ‘average’ family, farm equipment, 1959 automobiles, boats, sporting equipment and a children’s playground.
Few hundred thousand of a different publications were distributed in a first days of exhibition. Later, they had to nail everything to the walls to avoid stealing.
This exhibit was intended to narrow the gap between the Americans and the Soviets and improve the political relations between them. However, the “exhibition was also a tool of cultural diplomacy against the Soviet Communist Regime”, as the American politicians wanted to demonstrate the advantages of capitalism to the Soviets.
This is evident in Vice President Richard Nixon’s speech on the opening night of the Exhibition on July 24, 1959 as he congratulated USSR’s Premier Nikita Khrushchev and the Soviets on their advances in astronomy and rocket science, but quickly returned to focus on the United States’ strong points, especially the concept of freedom.
The various displays of the exhibit were all successful in promoting the American way of life as superior to the Communist regime and lifestyle. For instance, the model of the modern kitchen was a great attraction for most visitors and even sparked the infamous “Kitchen Debate.”
When I watched the following video, I couldn’t how the head of the country Nikita Khrushchev can behave like that and manage a conversation in such a way. That was so stupid and politically incorrect. Especially when he was talking about when USSR will pass USA in economical development and waived his hand with the ‘Hi’ sign. Head of the country behaves like a child.
Even now, I hate to work with countries of the former USSR as even high rank people behave like Nikita Khrushchev on this video. I’m even embarrassed to translate conversation sometimes.
Unfortunately the sound of the following video is not so great. However, I like the comment that some Soviet people thought that Pepsi-Cola tastes like benzine.
Here is American vintage news footage about Vice-President Richard Nixon leaving for American National Exhibition in Moscow.