In the Soviet Union, the enlightenment of the masses was as major a part of education policy as the standard schooling of children and young people. Early Soviet Russia suffered from widespread illiteracy as well as chronic social problems caused by years of civil unrest and traumatising war.

The People’s Commissariat for Education had sections covering areas such as adult education, literature, and even visual arts. This last saw many of the most famous names in Soviet art, such as Rodchenko and Malevich, produce educational and often propagandist art. The poet and artist Maiakovskii (often transliterated Mayakovsky) was heavily involved in this and related initiatives. Details from one of his propaganda posters are shown on several panels in the exhibition, including this one.

Pedagogical education had strands of moral upbringing as well as standard school and university instruction. Valuable lessons could be learnt at a young age – and the young themselves were often the instructors as well as the audience.


Detail from ‘How many millions are starving? Ten!’ by Vladimir Maiakovskii, in The Russian Revolutionary poster. CCA.54.27

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