American National Exhibition in Moscow
Breaking through the Iron Curtain by showcasing US culture in Moscow
In 1957 the Soviet Union and the US agreed to hold exhibitions in each other's countries as a way to promote understanding through cultural exchange and begin a process of rapprochement. Taking the lead in 1958, the USSR held an exhibition in New York showcasing the best of Soviet life before the Americans brought their exhibition to Moscow the following year. Sponsored by their respective governments, the exhibitions included demonstrations of daily life, industry, engineering and entertainment. Whilst the Soviets focused on the epitome of their technical innovations, the Americans focused on the many facets of contemporary everyday life in the US. Featuring the latest fashion, home appliances, televisions, auto mobiles and recreating a model home, the US exhibition resulted in the famous "kitchen debate"; the first high-level meeting between the Soviet Nikita Khrushchev and the US Richard Nixon since the Geneva Summit in 1955. The exhibitions led to discussion and debate between Americans and Russian at every level of society, presenting a rare opportunity for intercultural dialogue. Even though the two countries did not agree on everything, such as whose economic model was the better, both leaders agreed that their countries should be more open to each other. The project intended to narrow the gap between the Soviets and the Americans and to improve relations between them.