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Exhibition ‘Together and Apart. The Family in Russia in the Twentieth Century’

‘Together and Apart’ is an exhibition about the family in Russia’s turbulent twentieth century. It has been on show at venues in the Netherlands (2012) and Russia (2013, 2014, 2015).

Photographs from family albums, audio-visual projections, household objects, posters and film portray life in the “Soviet century” from the perspective of the people who lived it, in their everyday experiences of growing up and ageing, of marrying and raising a family, of housing arrangements, study, work and leisure. At the root of this exhibition on the intersection of science and art are the insights from IISH-research in Moscow.

A central three-screen projection tells the story of the Russian family in the twentieth century


November 2012 - June 2013: Drents Museum (Assen), joint exhibition with The Soviet Myth. Socialist Realism, 1932-1960. 

September-November 2013: Schusev State Museum of Architecture (Moscow) , with a special section on housing construction.

September - December 2014: Historical Museum of St. Petersburg, with an additional selection of objects and furniture from the collections of the Museum, and a workshop at the Netherlands Institute in St. Petersburg

March - August 2015: ZARYA Centre for Contemporary Art (Vladivostok), with four additional locally sourced family histories.

The project was curated by senior researcher Gijs Kessler of the IISH and exhibition maker Jeroen de Vries.

The project was supported by the SNS REAAL Fonds, the Mondriaan Fonds, het Wilhelmina E. Jansen fonds, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Moscow, the Friends of the International Institute of Social History, and the Netherlands Institute in St. Petersburg.

Press-coverage of ‘Together and Apart’

“There is a Soviet myth, but there is also a reality [...] Drawing on letters and photos the International Institute of Social History from Amsterdam paints a picture of the lives of the average citizen in the Soviet Union.’ (Volkskrant, 14.11.12, print-run 262.183)

"Moscow exhibition shows how people survived their own history'' (Metronews Moscow, 16.09.13, front-page, print-run 500.000)

"Sometimes photographs and letters from family archives can reveal things infinitely more precisely than the tons of paper produced by historians.” Kommersant-weekend, 20.09.13, print-run 130.000)

Further information

Central three-screen projection on the family in Russia in the twentieth century 

Video impression of the exhibition in Moscow

Photo gallery of the exhibition in Vladivostok

Presentation by Gijs Kessler at the workshop with the Netherlands Institute in St. Petersburg (Russian)

Interview with curator Gijs Kessler for the TV-channel Rossiia-24 (Russian)

Facebook page of the exhibition (Russian)