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 practiced 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.


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Palaces of Culture and other public buildings shaped the public space in socialist cities. In Kyiv, the historical transformation of these spaces can be traced using the example of the “Maidan Nezalezhnosti” or Independence Square, often called simply “Maidan”. In the post-Soviet era, its imposing Stalinist architecture set the scene for the square as a place of power, and its post-Soviet architecture subsequently also filled it with mainly state representational functions. But the Ukrainian people aggressively appropriated and continue to appropriate public spaces and buildings for themselves – in everyday life, but also in resistance movements, revolutions, and times of war. The discussion explores transformations of Kyiv’s public architecture and asks about its significance as a locus of civil empowerment for Ukraine’s transgenerational collective memory.

Evgeniya Molyar, art critic, member of the initiative DE NE DE and coordinator of the project “Soviet Mosaics in Ukraine”, Berlin
Dr. Vasyl Cherepanyn, curator, director of the Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC), Berlin
Kateryna Mishchenko, essayist, translator and publisher from Kiev, currently Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

Kateryna Stetsevych, Head of the 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