Past events
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Palaces of Culture featured prominently in the educational and cultural policies of socialist states. As places of encounter and education, of culture and sport, they were part of the social engineering practised by the state. At the same time, they were architectural icons of many Eastern, Central and Southern European capitals. But Palaces of Culture were found not only in the heart of socialist metropolises. “Houses of Culture” were systematically established in smaller towns and suburbs too, where people could take advantage of education, culture and sports offerings that also served to shape the “socialist citizen”. Then, in the years of change around 1989, Houses and Palaces of Culture played an important role as physical venues in the system transformation. Today, the architectural and cultural heritage of these Palaces is handled in ways that are as diverse as the societies of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. In five panel discussions curated by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), visitors to the Humboldt Forum will take a look at Warsaw, Kyiv, Belgrade and Minsk together with guests from the respective countries. They will learn more about the socialist idea of Palaces of Culture, urban debates, revolutions in the city environment, international discourses, political protests, state power, and shrinking spaces for culture.

The discussion will explore the significance of Palaces of Culture and Houses of Culture in socialist lifeworlds, with a dialogue of perspectives from architectural theory and cultural studies. Palaces of Culture and Houses of Culture – in general but also with reference to specific examples – are considered as structures and urban objects that represented and shaped socialist lifeworlds. Central to this are the aesthetics of the buildings and their ideological foundations, but also pragmatic aspects of the history of their construction. In addition, the discussion will reflect on the ideological background of Palace architecture, and explore the understanding of culture that it expresses. Finally, we will trace the emergence of a “mythology of Palaces of Culture” which endures to this day.

Dr. Thomas Flierl, architectural historian and publicist, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Georg Witte, literary scholar and slavist, Berlin

Dr. Heike Winkel, Advisor on Russian disinformation, Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe project group at the bpb

other events of the series of talks

The series “Palaces for the People. Palaces of Culture in Eastern Europe Before and After 1989” is curated by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Belongs to
Post/Socialist Palaces