With a tenth of the Planet’s arable land and a fifth of its water, the Russian Federation plays a key role in protecting food security. The country’s natural heritage was displayed in one of the largest Pavilions of Expo Milano 2015, which was laid out on various levels and enhanced by a walkway on the roof which treated visitors to a breathtaking view of the Site below. At the entrance to the Pavilion, visitors found themselves facing a structure that towered skywards, culminating in a mirror projected outwards.
The most ancient seed bank in existence and the vast entity of the Russian territory
To show and remind the public about the country’s natural heritage, the first room presented the largest seed collection in the world. Thanks to the contribution of Nicolai Ivanovič Vavilov, since the beginning of the 1900s over 250,000 plant seeds have been collected in a full collection which is on display in St. Petersburg at the Vavilov Institute. Each panel focused on a seed featuring explanations from various archives, including texts which date back even earlier than the revolution that took place in October 1917.
The visitor could appreciate the wealth of this database by reflecting on the fact that over 30 percent of these plants no longer exist. In the center of the area there was a bar-laboratory, an artistic installation where free tasting sessions featuring beverages were organized each day. Not just alcoholic drinks, but also healthy juices made with tarragon, or thirst-quenching fermented drinks made with black bread.
A visible kitchen surrounded by the table of the elements
The layout continued with an entire wall dedicated to Dmitri Mendeleev, inventor of the periodic table of the elements. In an original, innovative way, the public interfaced with a parallel between chemistry and food: several products and the elements they contain were shown in an educational way. Videos showing how certain dishes were prepared surround a large kitchen which provided the setting for tasting sessions, cooking shows and events. The room also dedicated a section to Vladimir Vernadsky, a Russian scientist who became famous for having developed a report on the biosphere. Finally, another wall showed the photos from the book “Regional and modern Russian cuisine”, an encyclopedia published in honor of Expo Milano 2015, with typical dishes, history, recipes and thoughts on the evolution of modern cuisine.
Going upwards, skywards even…
On the floor above, visitors could access the outdoor terraces. The area was laid out on different levels, bringing attention to the sheer size of the Russian territory. The walkway allowed visitors to go even higher up, following a pathway immersed in plants representing the three largest natural environments present in Russia: taiga, tundra and steppe. The area hosted a bar with a DJ deck and served drinks throughout the day. Only 20 people at a time could access the highest part of the terrace, which offered a breathtaking view of the entire Exposition Site from its position 17 meters up. Finally, from the first floor, visitors could admire a covered terrace with a view of the terrace above, and also try typical Russian dishes.
Last room dedicated to the Regions of the Russian Federation
Before the end of the tour, visitors entered a room which focused on the Russian regions, decorated with paintings from the Moscow Design Museum, which included a permanent part and a section that was renewed approximately every three weeks. The floor also hosted a conference room where documentaries on the landscapes of several lesser-known Russian regions were shown and an area dedicated to the “nucleus of the earth”, an Italian-Russian installation which showed images of monuments linked to Italian and Russian culture.
A restaurant car enables visitors to try traditional Russian cuisine
On the ground floor, visitors could take advantage of a large area dedicated to Russian cuisine. In a structure designed to resemble a restaurant car, with images and texts describing the country adorning the walls, the public could taste typical dishes made with caviar and salmon with blintchiks, the legendary cabbage soup (Shchi), meat with sauce served with buckwheat (Stroganoff) or tortelloni with a meat filling served with sour cream (Pilmieni).