Minsk full of interesting places and worthy sights, and its central part is curious in one way or another by almost every building. So, for example, on Independence Avenue you can see the unique post-war architecture. In this article, we will focus on one of the brightest examples of Stalinist classicism - Minsk GUM.

GUM: architecture, history, secret places and interesting facts

Department store GUM

History and background

True, the history of the first metropolitan department store begins a little to the left of the usual place. AT May 1934 years store first opened in former Polish bank.

Old Polish bank in Minsk

This unusual house was built in 1910, in an architecture unusual for Minsk - modern. It was then located on Zakharyevskaya Street, opposite hotel "Garni".

After the end of the war, it became clear that GUM would no longer open in the old building, the whole street was in ruins. The decision to build a new building was taken in July 1945 years. The future center of the trading life of the capital was tentatively estimated at 6-8 million rubles, and they planned to complete it by 1947.

Construction of GUM in Minsk 1948

However, in reality it turned out differently, the work was hard: long design, approval of plans and coordination of budgets. By 1948, the frame was almost finished, but there was an acute shortage of labor, in addition, the captured Germans involved in the facility were sent home.

Building GUM Minsk old photo

GUM appeared through the efforts of two architects: Melegi Lev Vladimirovich и Gegart Roman Mikhailovich. On the account of the second one, there are several other well-known buildings in the city that you have probably seen: BSAM (Academy of Music) on Internatsionalnaya, GPO Belenergo on Karl Marx and the Minsk Television Center on the banks of the Svisloch.

GUM department store in Minsk history

The trading facility was put into operation in November 1951 of the year. For residents Minsk of that time, the department store became a real breakthrough and an extremely popular place (not only for shopping, but also for walking). In addition, there was really something to see inside. The mosaic floor on the ground floor, amazing chandeliers, stucco and pilasters - all this amazed and surprised.

Department store GUM Minsk

GUM photo inside

Interestingly, from the side of Lenin Street, the department store was supposed to go to a new square, which never appeared. The central entrance was planned to be made just on this street, but in fact it turned out differently.

GUM old photo
late 80s

The first employees of the future department store were sent to study and train in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad, where the legendary DLT was located) even before the completion of all work. At that time, Belarus simply did not physically have specialists with the required level of qualification for such retail facilities.

GUM employees in the 50s
Employees, photo 1956

Museum in GUM

GUM Minsk history and interesting facts

Preparations for the opening of the store went hurriedly. Many employees dealt with all issues at once, both organizational and technical. In parallel, goods were brought to the department store, some of which were a curiosity. According to rumors, before the opening, the sellers even spent the night in the departments next to the goods, they were afraid of theft.

GUM counters in the 50s
This is what the counters looked like in the 50s

GUM today

The opening of GUM was expected and worried. The official part took place 5 November, but a simple buyer could get into the new building only November 6, 1951. At the opening of the department store, order was provided by the mounted police, and there was one under the leadership of Major Ginzburg.

At that time, GUM sold unique goods: washing machines from Riga, records from Hungary and Poland, and of course Neman TVs.

TV section in GUM

Employees of the GUM department store in Minsk
radio section 60s

There was an interesting service, which today may seem strange. On the floors there were vending machines with cologne, which, for a small fee, “issued” a one-time portion of the fragrance for clothes. In those days, a bottle of perfume was expensive and not available to everyone.

Showcase of the GUM department store in 1960
central showcase in the 60s

Minsk GUM

By the mid-70s, GUM began to change, acquiring the features of stores that are familiar to everyone today. Highly specialized sections were replaced by departments: “Women's Goods”, “Home Goods”, etc. In parallel, innovations were introduced in the form of additional services: cutting and fitting clothes, a post office, a savings bank.

Trading floor in GUM

Gum in the 50s
1972, central staircase

В 1979 year began a major renovation of the entire building, without closing the department store. For 4 years, restoration and construction work was carried out. It was during this period that the floors of the department store became granite, and the walls were decorated with marble.

Third floor in GUM

Sights of Minsk - GUM

GUM decorative elements

The 90s were not the easiest period of the department store. AT 1997 year the state department store was transformed into JSC "GUM", and the abbreviation of the store became, in fact, its official name.

Did you know?

Minsk GUM has its own библиотека и museum, and besides a room with a recreation area for employees. In the museum you can see photos of all directors, scarce goods of the past, various awards and diplomas.

Museum in the GUM department store in Minsk

Exhibits of the GUM Museum

Felix old machine

Director of GUM Minsk

Once in this room there was a civil defense office, it lost its relevance and was converted into a library, which eventually became a museum.

Bust of Lenin in Minsk Gum

The library staff themselves do not particularly use the library, but of course they know about this place.

Library in the department store GUM

There is also a remarkable place in front of the entrance to the museum - this is the very relaxation room with winter garden.

Lounge in GUM

It is also interesting to visit the courtyard, although the territory is closed, photo lovers often come here to take an atmospheric picture with a Soviet payphone.

Old telephone booth near GUM

Phone booth GUM

From the patio, you can also see the reverse side of those same legendary GUM stained-glass windows.

GUM stained glass windows from the back

Stained glass windows in GUM on the 3rd floor

Such a large department store also has its own creative department, where they work on the design of interchangeable and seasonal compositions. Including over the filling of shop windows (usually they are changed once a season).

The place where GUM shop windows are made

Scenery for GUM

All those small and large decorative elements that you see in GUM are born in these rooms on the upper floors of the building.

GUM scenery

Some facts and figures

  • More than a hundred cameras on all floors monitor the order in GUM
  • Department store sloganTrading traditions that have stood the test of time»

Unusual statues in GUM

  • The architects of the department store were inspired by the Palladio Basilica in Italy and the St. Mark's Library in Venice (be sure to look at the photo).
  • Minsk State Department Store became the first store Belarus introduced a self-service system.
  • The central entrance of GUM was lit up in the film 2008 "Dandies", where the department store "played" the role of the fashionable Moscow club "Cocktail Hall".
Gum in the 2008 film Stilyagi
It looked like a department store in the movie
  • 3rd floor is the heart of the old shop, here you can see chandelier, which has been hanging since 1951.

Chandelier in GUM

  • The area of ​​retail and warehouse premises of the store is about 7000 m2.
  • In GUM, as on the opening day, a huge variety of goods (about 100 tons of items)

GUM Minsk

  • GUM actively used advertising in Soviet times, although in fact it did not need it.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald (prime suspect in the assassination of President Kennedy, who is 2 years lived in Minsk) was a frequent visitor to the department store and in his diaries gave a positive review of the work and assortment.

For a long time, GUM has experienced many ups and downs, leaving a significant mark both in the modern history of the city and in the development of trade. It is already difficult to imagine the intersection at Independence and Lenin without this object. If you have not looked at this building from the point of view of architecture before, then I definitely recommend it.

Read about others sights of the capitaland excursion options.

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