What to Do: Look at Soviet Aviation Posters

MTNew exhibit features old Aeroflot posters.
An exhibition at Moscow's Museum of Contemporary History of Russia showcases the history of Russian airlines in posters.

The posters show the evolution of Russian aviation from an offshoot of the chemical industry that sprayed fields with poison against locusts to Russia's airline monopoly Aeroflot. Through the years, there were some daring attempts to "equal and surpass America in airship construction!" and to "assault the stratosphere," some of which ended tragically.

The posters are laid out chronologically through the NEP years, when Alexander Rodchenko designed aggressive constructivist advertisements for the short-lived Soviet aviation joint stock company, including the propagandistic "What have YOU done for the air fleet?" and "finishing five-year plans in four years," along with other landmark slogans that reflect the fluctuating political atmosphere of the era.

After World War II, Aeroflot's advertising featured mostly beautiful flight attendants, a "special caste" of Soviet women. Aeroflot put flight attendants on its planes in 1936 to wind up clocks in the cockpit, kill flies in the cabin and prevent passengers from throwing cigarette butts out of the windows. On the ground, Aeroflot stewardesses championed women's rights in the 1970s as the first females to grace Soviet magazine covers, traditionally reserved for Politburo members.

The exhibition is on the first floor of the museum and is included in the price of the museum's regular ticket. Soviet aviation-themed songs and historical videos are played as part of the exhibition.

The exhibit runs until Feb. 24

The State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia
21 Tverskaya Ul., 699-6724. M. Tverskaya
Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Monday and the last Friday of the month.