March 14 - April 27, 2008
Peter and Paul Fortress, Nevskaya kurtina

Organized by

The PRO ARTE Institute

The State Museum of the History of Saint Petersburg 

Supported by 

The German Federal Cultural Foundation

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany

The Ford Foundation and the Goethe Institute in St. Petersburg 

Head curator: Philipp Oswalt (Berlin)

The “SHRINKING CITIES” exhibition is the outcome of the Germany-based “SHRINKING CITIES” project that explores the dynamics and patterns of city-decline in the US, the UK, Germany, Russia and Japan. “Shrinking Cities” are the cities that are facing drastic decreases in population and failing economy.

Since the very beginning of industrial era, throughout almost two centuries by now, many countries' economies were growing steadily and in most cases rapidly. Their populations increased, their cities thrived.  Growth and progress were taken for granted. But now these times are coming to an end. In old industrialized countries, such as Italy, Germany, Japan and Russia, the populations of many cities are decreasing, and the climax stage in the process of urbanization is already over. Since 1950 until 2000 more than 350 large cities across the globe have seen their economy and populations shrink considerably. 

There is a number of transformational processes underlying the phenomenon of a shrinking city. For this particular research a number of urban areas were selected, each of them fading away for a different reason. The population of Manchester/Liverpool region in the UK has been shrinking because of de-industrialization; in Detroit (USA) it happened because of suburbanization and in Hakodate (Japan) because of the changing demography. The decrease of population in Ivanovo, Russia's traditional textile center, was largely provoked by radical changes in the economy and demography that followed after the USSR dissolved together with the state-economy. Leipzig/Halle, Germany, has been seeing an essential decrease in population since 1989, caused by three overlapping factors: de-industrialization, changing demography and suburbanization.

More than two hundred artists, architects, filmmakers, scientists and the representatives of various local organizations and initiatives took part in this project. After several large exhibitions in Europe, North America and Asia the project “Shrinking Cities” now presents the outcomes of its international research activities in Russia with more than 35 artifacts on view.

The exhibition consists of two parts and is now on display in St. Petersburg at the Nevskaya kurtina of the Peter and Paul Fortress. The exhibit at PRO ARTE Institute provides a general overview of the project's scientific research and a comparative analysis on all the studied urban areas. Three rooms at the Museum of History of St. Petersburg display artworks and documents relating to the research on the Ivanovo region and the East Germany Leipzig/Halle region. Works by artists, architects, filmmakers, journalists and scientists are a good supplement to the comprehensive analysis of the process displayed at PRO ARTE.

Special program includes lectures and film-screenings.

“Shrinking Cities”: International research activities

PRO ARTE Institute, Peter and Paul Fortress, Nevskaya kurtina, left side

Exhibition hours: Monday - Friday, 11.00 - 17.00

“Shrinking Cities”: Ivanovo and Leipzig/Halle

The Museum of history of Saint Petersburg, Peter and Paul Fortress,  

Nevskaya kurtina, right side

Exhibition hours: Thursday - Tuesday, 11.00 - 18.00

Activity Type :  Architecture 

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