by Yale Richmond
Yale Richmond, a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer and author of 11 books on intercultural communication, worked on U.S.-Soviet cultural and other exchanges for more than 20 years. He delivered the following speech at the Aleksanteri Institute’s 9th Annual Conference “Cold War Interactions Reconsidered” 29-31 October 2009, University of Helsinki, Finland. This is the second of two parts and originally appeared at Whirled View. It is published here with the author’s permission. Part I is here.
Exhibitions: Better to See Once. . .
And now to exhibitions. As an old Russian proverb tells us, it is better to see once than to hear a hundred times.
The Cultural Agreement also provided for month-long showings of exhibitions in the two countries to show the latest developments in various fields. Prepared by the U.S. Information Agency, the American exhibitions were on such subjects as medicine, architecture, hand tools, education, outdoor recreation, technology for the home, and agriculture. Each exhibition had some 20 Russian-speaking American guides who responded to questions from the Soviet visitors. For most Russians who saw the exhibitions, it was their first and only opportunity to talk with an American.
Despite harassment by the KGB, the exhibitions drew huge crowds with long lines awaiting admittance, and they were seen, on average, by some 250,000 visitors in each city. All together, more than 20 million Soviet citizens saw the 23 U.S. exhibitions over a 32-year period.