Past events
{{ time.start_TS | TS2dateFormat('DD') }}
{{ time.start_TS | TS2dateFormat('MMM') }}
{{ time.start_TS | TS2dateFormat('YYYY') }}

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.


read more read less

It is hard to find anyone in Warsaw who does not have a strong opinion about the Palace of Culture. Once a “gift” from Stalin, it has shaped the city’s skyline since the 1950s. Several times, there have been plans to demolish the giant complex of buildings, but it still dominates the city centre today. The Palace of Culture has variously housed a cinema, a theatre, restaurants, sports facilities, event halls and a swimming pool. From the refurbished observation deck overlooking the city, tourists now gaze up at glass skyscrapers of multinational corporations towering into the Warsaw sky. The building has long since become a “socialist enclave in a post-socialist city” (Michał Murawski), as Warsaw now has more shopping malls and gated communities than Berlin, with ever-rising property prices. In Warsaw, too, this is why people are discussing who the city really belongs to. In this panel, we will examine how local people are dealing with the legacy of the Palace of Culture – and what debates they are having about displacement and gentrification in a dynamic European capital.

Dr. Michał Murawski, Associate Professor of Critical Area Studies, University College London
Martyna Obarska, Cultural Scientist, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Media, SWPS University, Warsaw.

Emilia Smechowski, Editor-in-Chief, ZEITmagazin, Berlin


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