The reinforced concrete sculpture was a copy of Sergey Merkurov’s work. The original one, 37 meters high and weighing 450 tons, stands in the city of Dubna, at the entrance to the Moscow canal. A copy for Norilsk was made at the Moscow Art Fund. Then the monument was dismantled into four parts, packed in boxes and sent to Norilsk. Here it was mounted by the Norilsk sculptor Zhiltsov, and the famous architects Nepokoichitsky and Minenko inscribed the monument into the square space.
Here is how the opening of the monument was described in the local newspaper Zapolyarnaya Pravda:
“The solemn moment is coming. Searchlights are flashing. The veil is falling slowly, and the beloved image of the genius of mankind appears before the people’s eyes. The dear name glitters with gold on the pedestal: LENIN. Mournful silence. The working people of the city with bare heads honor Ilyich’s memory. A mournful melody is sounding Follow us on Telegram, Instagram , Facebook and Twitter”.
The city newspaper also published poems by a Norilsk resident using Smekalin’s technique:
From those lights, the nights of Taimyr became brighter,
And warming seemed to come to the tundra.
Today in Norilsk as a symbol of peace
A monument to LENIN has been unveiled.
Over the years, the Norilsk Lenin and its pedestal have been repeatedly restored: the concrete crumbled and cracked from the winds and low temperatures.
In the mid-1970s, the city authorities turned to Krasnoyarsk and Moscow with a request to provide the polar city with a more durable sculpture – made of stone or metal.
The request was not fulfilled, and the Norilsk reinforced concrete Ilyich remained with us almost unchanged.
After one of the repairs, the inscription ‘Lenin’ disappeared from the pedestal. Thus, the monument turned into a nameless city sculpture.
In previous editions of the History Spot photo project we told that in different years there had been at least three monuments to Lenin in Norilsk.
Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive