American National Exhibition


American National Exhibition
Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev at the American National Exhibition, July 1959
DateJuly 25 to Sept. 4, 1959
DurationSix weeks
VenueSokolniki Park
LocationMoscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Motivediplomacy, capitalism, ideology
Budget$3.6 million
ParticipantsKey figures in mid-century American art and design including artists Jack Levine, Isamu Noguchi, Hyman Bloom, Jackson Pollock, Edward Hopper and designers Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller and Herman Miller.

The American National Exhibition, held from July 25 to September 4, 1959, was an exhibition of American art, fashion, cars, capitalism, model homes and futuristic kitchens. Held at Sokolniki Park in Moscow, then capital of the Soviet Union, the exhibition attracted 3 million visitors during its six-week run.[1][2][3] The Cold War event is historic for the "Kitchen Debate" between then-Vice President of the United States Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, held first at the model kitchen table, outfitted by General Electric, and then continued in the color television studio where it was broadcast to both countries, with each leader arguing the merits of his system,[4] and a conversation that "escalated from washing machines to nuclear warfare."[5]

But the event is equally renowned for its art exhibition, which included such celebrated artists as sculptors Robert Laurent, Ibram Lassaw and Isamu Noguchi and painters Hyman Bloom, Jackson Pollock and Edward Hopper in an art show coordinated by the United States Information Agency (USIA). Prior to the exhibition, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) threatened to remove many of the artists who had been accused of links to communist activities. After President Dwight D. Eisenhower intervened, however, the exhibition went on as planned.[6]

Interpretations of the event are mixed. Some called the event a success because it humanized both countries, leading to better relations between them.[7] Some also note that the event resulted in "a landmark contract to mass-manufacture Pepsi in the Soviet Union," creating new business opportunity, as well as a better relationship. But others argue that "[a] year later, the Cuban missile crisis brought both sides to the brink of nuclear war, and ties didn't begin improving until the 1970s."[7] Meanwhile, liberal critics characterized the exhibition as an American Cold War "propaganda strategy."[8]

  1. ^ Novak, Matt (July 24, 2014). "The All-American Expo That Invaded Cold War Russia". Gizmodo.
  2. ^ "Sokolniki Exhibition and Convention Center". Sokolniki Exhibition and Convention Center. Archived from the original on 2014-08-24.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference :0 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Feifer, Gregory (2 February 2012). "Fifty Years Ago, American Exhibition Stunned Soviets". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  5. ^ csnara789 (2012-07-26). "If You Can't Take the Heat…". The Unwritten Record. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  6. ^ Schwartz, Lowell H. (2009), "Cultural Infiltration: A New Propaganda Strategy for a New Era of Soviet—West Relations", Political Warfare against the Kremlin, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 181–208, doi:10.1057/9780230236936_8, ISBN 978-1-349-30666-4
  7. ^ a b Feifer, Gregory (2 February 2012). "Fifty Years Ago, American Exhibition Stunned Soviets". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Lowell H. (2009), "Cultural Infiltration: A New Propaganda Strategy for a New Era of Soviet—West Relations", Political Warfare against the Kremlin, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 181–208, doi:10.1057/9780230236936_8, ISBN 978-1-349-30666-4

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