Schusev State
Museum of Architecture

The Narkomfin House and its Significance

 

This exhibition is dedicated to the unique building designed by architect Moisei Ginzburg. The Narkomfin House has an international reputation as one of the most important buildings from the epoch of the Russian avant-garde. The Narkomfin was built in the late 1920s and early 1930s by architects Moisei Yakovlevich Ginzburg and Ignatii Frantsevich Milinis. This building on Novinsky Boulevard in Moscow now stands in structural and aesthetic disrepair, and as a result the form and structural integrity of the building are under threat. Yet the significance of this house is internationally recognized, and the beauty of its facades and interiors are such that they urgently require preservation, complete and professional restoration, and care. The style adopted during this famous epoch of the avant-garde (the various expressions of which are known by a variety of names: constructivism, rationalism, and functionalism) is deserving of study and public awareness. Тhe buildings of this epoch should take their place as rightful members of Moscow’s “urban concert,” from which they were long excluded as a result of decades of indifference and neglect. In this exhibition, the Narkomfin House plays a solo role against the background of other buildings by Ginzburg of the same period. The House is featured within the context of this architect’s magnificent graphics, his theoretical works, and his published books. This amazing house emerged from the combination of Ginzburg’s personality and his epoch, from the creative strivings of a master architect and the response of state authorities of the period. The Narkomfin House was first planned as a communal house, but it was later turned into the prestigious headquarters of the Soviet Commissariat of Finance. The Narkomfin House speaks to the spirit of experimentation, the fascination with technical aesthetics, and the pursuit of complex spatial constructions for living during the initial Soviet period. All of these elements were brought together by an outstanding architect of that time with such tact, elegance, and in such a way that it is possible to say that the Narkomfin House is a masterpiece not only of Russian architecture, but of the international architectural avant-garde of the first half of the twentieth century. The Narkomfin House, its architecture, and its spirit are enveloped together in many legends, all of which are presented at the exhibition. Among the items on display are original graphics by Moisei Ginzburg from the Schusev Museum’s collection, models of the avant-garde building, and photographs showing both the initial period of construction and the life of the Narkomfin House in later periods.

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