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Yeltsin Center

Soviet Store

Permanent Exhibit

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In the last months of the USSR, the Soviet state-planned economy found itself at a dead end. The country was on the brink of social and economic collapse. Empty shelves in stores were ubiquitous across the country. The population awaited the winter of 1991 with agitation and fear.

Tasked with immersing the visitors of the museum into the atmosphere of the period, we worked with various Russian archives to create media programs that tell the story of the seemingly never-ending lines to buy basic produce. 

The audio in the space supports the narratives with recollections from dozens of people from various occupations who lived through the events of last days of the Soviet Empire.

The story culminates with President Yeltsin’s announcement of his decision to transition Russia to a market economy and allow private businesses to set their own prices for goods they manufacture. The transitional period that ensued was tough difficult on the population of the country, leading the Russian media to label that time as “Shock Therapy.”