Saint Petersburg with kids: Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
USSR is now left in memories, old maps and nostalgia style cafes one can find in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. If you want to experience what it was like to be a kid in USSR, then you should visit “15 Kopeek”, museum of Soviet arcade machines and old-fashioned fun.
We visited on a gloomy day in the middle of winter, but the space inside was inviting and cosy. Letitia said that it was the best museum we visited in a space of a week and, believe me, there were a lot of museums, I dragged the whole family to.
I can vouch for authenticity of this place, as I grew up at the tail end of USSR collapse. Just across the street there was “Igroteka”, a building filled with arcade machines. My parents would give me some change and I would go and play there until the money is finished. Unlike other arcade machines that I see now,you did not win any money or prizes in these arcade machines, but you were able to perfect your table football skills, shooting a target or driving the cars. Maximum you could win was an extra game!
The museum is full to the brim with different types of playing devices and there are helpful explanation notes next to each machine on its history and background and how to play it. The museum also has free tour, where you would be able to learn about all there is to know about Soviet ways to have fun.
One of my personal highlights was the lemonade dispenser. When I was a child, for a mere 1 pence (1 kopejka in Russian money) you could buy a glass of carbonated water , but if you were feeling particularly rich that day, for another 2 pence you could put syrup there. Oh my god, they had exactly the same machines with exactly the same tasting syrup as in my childhood! I would go to this museum for this taste alone!
The variety of arcade machines is astonishing and I could not believe how bad the design was. When you are a kid, you don’t really care about things like design and whether it looks pretty, but when I saw them with my Instagram spoiled eye, I realised that design was not high on the priority list. However , now it looks like proper stuff and one can be appreciate its vintage features.
You can easily spend here a couple of hours, if not more. The name of the museum refers to the coin denomination of 15 pence (kopeek). We used to put this coin into the slot to make machines run. When you buy museum ticket you are given a matchstick box full of coins, so you can easily try playing all the machines in the museum.
Apart from the machines, there is also table tennis, chess and a big screen showing old cartoons, or you can have a drink/meal in the cafe. If you like Soviet souvenirs, there is a great shop with nostalgia items and old Nokia phones. I think I used to possess the one for 4,500 rubles pictured below.
For the smallest members of the family there are also couple of stationary planes, which they will absolutely love!
Good news is that there is a similar museum in Moscow, so if you are there, I am pretty sure you can get a similar experience. I recommend the museum especially if you are with kids, as all family can play together in such a special environment. if you grew up in USSR, it is even better, nostalgia is all around you.
Our visit to the museum was kindly hosted, but all opinions are my own.