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Yuri Gagarin bust installed in London’s Science Museum

August 31, 8:01 UTC+3 LONDON

The project to install bronze statues dedicated to Yuri Gagarin in various countries began in 2011

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© Ilya Dmitryachev/TASS

LONDON, August 31. /TASS/. The bust of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), has been installed in the Science Museum in London. It was solemnly unveiled on Wednesday in the museum’s permanent gallery titled Exploring Space.

"It's very important to me that our collection here tells the full story of the space program, and in most space museums in Europe and America all the technology is American," Museum Director Ian Blatchford told Russian reporters. That was why, he stressed, it was very important for him to perpetuate Gagarin’s memory. Blatchford noted that the bust will become part of the museum’s permanent exhibition.

"We signed a partnership this year with Tsiolokovsky space museum in Kaluga, and we are going to develop exhibition ideas together looking either at the pioneers of the Russian space program or future plans for the Russian program. Certainly I hope that for the next 10-20 years we will do more exhibitions about Russia," Blatchford promised.

Where does the sculpture come from?

The bust was donated to the museum by the "Dialogue of Cultures - One World" Foundation and was installed within the framework of the mutual Year of Science and Education of the UK and Russia marked in 2017.

The foundation’s President Ruslan Bayramov told TASS that the installation of the monument was coordinated within a short period of time. "The procedures took several months, which is fast enough, because our partners are close people in terms of values. We speak the same language, and we do not need to explain who Yuri Gagarin is, we have good synchronization," Bayramov said.

The project to install bronze statues dedicated to Yuri Gagarin in various countries began in 2011, and more than 40 busts of the world’s first cosmonaut have appeared in nearly 30 countries since then. The "Dialogue of Cultures - One World" Foundation established in 2005 has implemented more than 450 projects in different countries in close cooperation with international and Russian organizations, including UNESCO, the Russian Geographical Society and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Exhibitions about Russia

In London’s Science Museum, the Gagarin bust will be located close to the descent module of the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft, aboard which British astronaut Tim Peake returned to Earth after completing his expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). It was installed in the museum in January.

In March, the museum opened an exhibition dedicated to the life and achievements of the first woman who travelled into outer space, Valentina Tereshkova.

In 2015, the Science Museum hosted an exhibition titled "Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age" dedicated to the Soviet space program.

Gagarin in London

As for the monument to Gagarin, this is not the first statue dedicated to the first man in space in the British capital. In 2011, a monument, which was an exact replica of Anatoly Novikov’s work installed in Lyubertsy, in the Moscow region, was solemnly unveiled in central London. The ceremony was timed to the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s visit to London in 1961.

During his visit to the UK, Yuri Gagarin received a gold medal from the Space Development Foundation and met with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Queen Elizabeth II. Gagarin visited a total of 30 countries as part of his foreign tour.

In 2013, the monument was relocated to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, South East London.

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