Employees of the Moscow-based State Museum of Gulag History visited the hard-to-reach abandoned camps in three settlements. During the one-week expedition, the researchers shot the vanishing objects from a remotely controlled helicopter to later create 3D models. They also collected camp everyday objects and met former prisoners and their families as well as former colleagues of NKVD law enforcement agency’s employees who made arrests at the time of the Stalinist repressions.
The Museum was now working on a project called The Doors, said the Museum’s director Roman Romanov. Four exhibitions have already been completed, each of them opening with a real door from a historical camp. It was one of the goals of the expedition to the Magadan Region to find a ward door for the fifth exhibition devoted to the Kolyma camps, he said. But when the researchers saw the ramshackle buildings, they gave up the idea considering it an abuse. The Museum finally used an old door from a penal colony.
The government agency Gulag used labour prisoners for the development of natural resources in about 30,000 camps all over Russia, including the Far North. The number of political prisoners sharply increased at the height of repressions.
According to different sources, over 1934-1960, the camp system established by Joseph Stalin oppressed 15-18 million and killed about 1.5 million.