(31 August - 12 September)
Although it doesn’t attract near as much attention as the Kremlin, the Bolshoi Theater, or the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow’s largest toy store, “Children’s World” (Detskii mir / Детский мир), has long been a popular destination for visitors to the Russian capital.
An early sign of the Soviet state’s new emphasis on producing consumer goods in the post-Stalin years, “Children’s World” was the largest toy store on the planet when it opened its doors in 1957. It immediately became a major attraction for native citizens and foreign tourists interested in acquiring gifts and souvenirs for younger loved ones.
As luck would have it, “Children’s World” was built across the street from Lubyanka — the headquarters of the state secret police. Under Stalin, Lubyanka served as the point of departure both for countless innocents dispatched to the GULag and the untold thousands summarily shot in its basement.
The close proximity of the colossal toy store to the prison cells and interrogation chambers of the state organs gave rise to numerous jokes in the decades that followed the store’s opening. Among the most popular was to introduce first-time visitors by noting:
“Here on your left — “Children’s World,” and there on your right — “Adults’ World.'”
Currently, “Children’s World” is closed pending the completion of a $200 million dollar renovation. Now under the management of the Russian Federal Security Service (or, FSB), “Adults’ World” is still open for business…