British Council Opens Gagarin in Britain Exhibition

. July 21, 2011 . 0 Comments

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight and the installation of the Yuri Gagarin statue on the Mall, the British Council presents Gagarin in Britain, an exhibition on the life of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the early Soviet space programme, from 19 July to 13 September 2011 at British Council headquarters.

Yuri Gagarin in the bus taking him to the launch pad for the launch of Vostok 1. Behind him in another orange pressure suit is Gherman Titov, the back-up pilot for Vostok 1 and the pilot in the later Vostok 2 mission.

The exhibition showcases items from the Vostok (“East”) manned space programme rarely seen in Britain: the first space suit – SK-1, including the padded inner lining, blue rubberised pressure-suit and outer orange layer; and an ejector seat of the model used by Gagarin when he parachuted out of Vostok 1 at an altitude of 7km. These exhibits are complemented by Soviet posters from the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics; a film made by Roscosmos showing original footage of the early training programme and the 1961 launch itself; a model of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in the world, launched in October 1957; an array of space food; and one of the earliest dog space suits, used prior to man’s first spaceflight to test the capacity of living creatures in space. As there are few items from the early Soviet space programme on view in the UK, this is an exceptional opportunity to see some of the earliest space items, which marked the launch of man’s venture into space.

Accompanying the artefacts is a photographic exhibition telling the story of Gagarin’s life, featuring at least 80 photographs from the Gagarin family archive and other sources, many never published before. They show the small town of Klushino where Gagarin was born; the devastation brought about by the Nazi occupation; and the tale of a young man of modest beginnings gradually becoming a pilot, then a cosmonaut, then – within an instant of his return to earth – the most famous man on the planet. A special section is devoted to Gagarin’s visit to Britain from 11 to 15 July 1961, with photographs of the extraordinary welcome given to him by the British public, and of his meeting with politicians and people alike.

Curator: Andrea Rose
Designer: Nick Coombe and Mark Thomson

The British Council is a working office building, and will be open to the public on Tuesday and Friday afternoons only, from 4.00-5.00pm. Entry is by registration on a first come first served basis, and members of the public are invited to register at:

Category: Science Technology

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