The Kitschy Communist Museums of Kazan
Kazan is one of Russia’s biggest cities (eighth, to be exact) and also one of the most beautiful (I’d rank it second behind St. Petersburg). The architecture of the city is distinctively European, and the city’s famous Kremlin dates back to before the Mongol invasion of Russia. Out of all the history and beautiful buildings, I think my two favorite places were a pair of tacky museums where you can get your hands on a number of everyday items from the Soviet era.
The Soviet Lifestyle Museum and the Museum of Happy Childhood, located a block away from each other in the center of the city, offer slightly overlapping looks at the consumer products from the era. Ancient computers, hipster-ish clothes and regular household appliances can all be seen. Their age (often more than 30 years old) makes these items an attractions, as does their rarity outside of the former U.S.S.R. These were things made exclusively for people of the Soviet Union and weren’t made for exporting. Exporting, after all, smacks of capitalism.
The Happy Childhood Museum focuses on toys and other items for kids, while the Soviet Lifestyle Museum has a broader look (including cigarette packages, signed guitars from international artists and liquor bottles). Out of the two, the Soviet Lifestyle Museum has a better collection and a much cooler building. Even the bathroom is decked out in Soviet trinkets, as you can see in the photo below. The Happy Childhood Museum has something of a thrift shop feel to it, although the reconstructed classroom and old (yet not working) arcade games were highlights.
The Soviet Lifestyle Museum
The Museum of Happy Childhood
I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?