Thursday, August 6, 2009
Sergei Khrushchev on Sokolniki Exhibition -- "They Remembered What They Could Touch..."
Brown University's Prof. Sergei Khrushchev took part in the first panel at GWU's "Face-off to Facebook" conference on July 23. What had an impact on Soviet visitors to the Sokolniki exhibition, he explains, were the tangible artifacts of American life, like the books on display, the Pepsi samples (which he said did not win over his friends), chewing gum and the like. The expectations of Soviet visitors were so high, Khrushchev observes, that many felt a sense of disappointment when they discovered that America was not necessarily a utopia, and Americans were not demigods. They saw "it was not a dream...they were real people," he recalled. Yet the exhibition and President Eisenhower's emphasis on public diplomacy were "very important" all the same.