Science Museum denies landmark Cosmonaut exhibition postponement is due to British-Russian tensions

The postponement follows the cancellation of a Young British Artists show in Russia in June

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The Science Museum has denied that the postponement of its “Cosmonauts” exhibition of Russian spacecraft was caused by political tensions between Britain and Russia.

Due to open next month, the “Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age” was described by the Museum as “the most significant collection of space artefacts ever to leave Russia” and “the principal attraction of the UK-Russia Year of Culture”.

But the Museum confirmed that the exhibition has been delayed, with a new opening date expected next year.

The Art Newspaper reported that “Cosmonauts” had fallen victim to the Moscow authorities placing increased bureaucratic obstacles over loans to London, following the imposition of Western sanctions in response to Russia’s support for rebel forces in Ukraine.

The postponement follows the cancellation of a Young British Artists show in Russia in June which was axed as a result of international tensions over Ukraine.


However a Science Museum spokesman said: “Due to some logistical challenges involved in borrowing 150 objects from 18 lenders, we have decided to move the opening date for the ‘Cosmonauts’ exhibition.

“The build work and shipment of objects needs to be tightly synchronised for this exhibition, to minimise disruption and to ensure delivery in the most cost-effective way.”

The delayed objects include the Vostok-6 module that brought Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, back to earth in 1963 and a version of the original 1957 Sputnik satellite, which were both promised by Moscow’s Rocket and Space Corporation.

Organised with the Moscow State Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics and the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, the exhibition was due to run from November to next May. Funding assistance has been provided by the Blavatnik Family Foundation, set up by the Ukrainian-born American billionaire Leonard Blavatnik.

The “landmark” exhibition promises to tell the “dramatic story of how Russia became the first nation to conquer space exploration” and will allow visitors to explore the gadgets that cosmonauts needed to live in zero gravity, including a space shower, toilet, medical instruments and survival kits for crash landings.