Yeltsin Center

Bringing a Coup d’État to Life in a 35-Foot Diorama

Museums and Exhibits

In 2015, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center commissioned Lorem Ipsum to produce media for a large-scale panoramic installation dedicated to one of the pivotal historical events of the late 20th century: the failed coup attempt by Communist Party hardliners that eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“August Coup,” a panoramic installation at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center, combines video narrative and replicas of Moscow’s 1991 coup barricades.

Designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the 35-foot-long exhibit combines a 12-minute video narrative, composed exclusively of archival footage, and physical artifacts replicating the makeshift barricades that citizens built in the streets of Moscow — a powerful symbol of their defiance against the putschists.

The dynamic video collage on the screen evokes the violence and uncertainty of the three days that shook the world. On August 19, 1991, hardline members of the Communist Party, alarmed by the rapid reforms of President Mikhail Gorbachev and the increasing loss of their grip on power, attempted to seize control. The President of the USSR was arrested at his country house in Crimea, and tanks rolled into Moscow to assert the power of the coup plotters.

Despite the initial shock and confusion, thousands of citizens took to the streets to defend their fledgling democracy. They built makeshift barricades, confronted the military, and rallied around Boris Yeltsin, who famously climbed atop a tank outside the Russian White House to denounce the coup. The resolve of the people, combined with divisions within the military, who resisted conforming to the putschists’ command, led to the collapse of the coup just three days later.

The media installation, titled “August Coup,” is one of the centerpieces of the permanent exhibit at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in Yekaterinburg.

The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center, Yekaterinburg
August Coup
Yeltsin Center
Ralph Appelbaum Associates
Media Production
Lorem Ipsum