A rather unusual place can be found in the very heart of Moscow, in Kuznetsky Most Street (Russian: ulitsa Kuznetskiy most or улица Кузнецкий мост). Although the place is referred to as museum, everyone is allowed (and welcome!) to touch and play everything. The museum exhibits arcade machines—the favourite entertainment of Soviet children. All the equipment is functioning, so you can experience firsthand how the machines that brought so much joy to millions of kids and adults in the 1980s work.
The collection boasts hundreds of machines, but only about 40 are up and running. The museum expands its collection constantly, searching for arcade machines all over the country. The museum itself occupies a pretty small space on two floors.
People born in the Soviet Union will have a pleasant feeling of nostalgia for their childhood. Gorodki (Townlets), Battleship, Torpedo Attack, Winter Hunting—the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines displays all the models that would adorn every children’s corner in every more or less large city of the huge Soviet country. This is the place where you can shoot puffing ships, fire a gun into jumping figures, or try gripping a toy in a glass box using a steel claw.
As you purchase a ticket, you receive 15 real 15-kopeck Soviet coins in a matchbox, which is amusing in itself. This money is enough for 30 minutes of playtime. Every arcade game lasts for two minutes, as it always was in the Soviet times. There is a plate with instructions by every machine, and foreigners are provided with brief descriptions and rules in English. Most arcade machines in the collection are designed for solo gaming, but some allow two-player configurations: Hockey, Basketball, Torpedo Attack, and others. Many of the machines are adult-sized, but step-stools are offered for children to stand on.
This space is like a time machine that will bring you back to the Soviet childhood. The floor is covered with white-painted plywood sheets. A telephone booth typical of that epoch is seen by one of the walls. There are also automated inquiry stations that could be found at every railway station back then. Visitors are especially happy to see the soda vending machine, one of those that used to adorn the streets of Moscow. This is probably the only place where you can have a cup of authentic Soviet carbonated water today.
It is best to visit the museum on weekdays, as it can be crowded on weekends and you may have to queue to play some of the machines. It is pretty warm inside, so if you are bringing your kids, make sure to take some light clothing and shoes for them to change into.
When leaving, you can take a photo that will be printed on photo paper right in front of you. Photo booths like this one used to be imported from France, but its design fits perfectly into the nostalgic interior. You can also purchase some thematic souvenirs such as pens or magnets. To refresh yourself, you can go to Burger Heroes bar in the same building or Jagannath (Russian: Джаганнат) vegetarian eating house across the street.
The Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines is a private-funded institution. It evolved from a small collection of arcade machines initiated by Alexander Stakhov, Maxim Pinigin, and Alexander Vugman. As the owners began to realise their project could be commercially successful, they started collecting arcade machines from all over the country. The museum even provides excursions to familiarise visitors with the history of arcade machines in the Soviet Union. A curious fact: as many as 22 munitions factories produced arcade machines as sideline products.
The museum sits in a historic building. At the beginning of the 20th century, it used to house a shopping arcade of merchant Konstantin Popov, the first entrepreneur in the Russian Empire who introduced tea plantations in the Caucasus. The building was reconstructed in the eclectic style in the late 19th century, when it acquired its mouldings inspired by Italian Renaissance and Baroque. Back then, the ground floor housed shops and the upper floors were inhabited. During the Soviet era, the building was home to the Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology.© 2016-2023 moscovery.com