The cult of personality surrounding Russian leaders Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin is the subject of a new exhibition that opened earlier this week at Moscow’s State Historical Museum. The Myth of the Beloved Leader examines the formation of personality cults around Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union in the early decades of the 20th century, which bestowed the pair with a God-like status.

The curator of the exhibition Tatyana Koloskova said: “Our exhibition of the myth of our Soviet leaders is a unique collection of historical sources, which gives a rare insight into the ascension of our leaders.”

The exhibition has selected over 1,000 objects relating to Lenin and Stalin from the museum’s archive of around 100,000 artefacts. On display are prints of pre-revolutionary Lenin, first editions of his works and personal items including the cards used by his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya to teach her husband to read following his third stroke. Another section of the exhibition, the Missed Museum, will exhibit a number of personal belongings found in Stalin’s dacha before it was dismantled in the wake of Nikita Khrushchev’s ascent to power.

Koloskova said: “For 20 years, the collection from the former museum of Lenin was inaccessible to the public and members of the museum’s staff. Items and artefacts from these years were practically eliminated by the dogmatism in this country. Now we are accountable to our audiences and to the guests of this city and we want them to see, to remember and to learn the history of the 20th century.”

The exhibition will run until 13 January 2015.

  • Text: Nadia Beard