The exhibition showcased photographs of 20 UNESCO Creative Cities across the BRICS countries, capturing the essence of these locations both from Earth and the International Space Station. The collaborative effort involved 89 photographers from around the world. 40 of the best images were selected for the exhibition.

"The idea of taking photos of significant places on Earth and these same places from space is actually very interesting, very good. Now it is being implemented in the context of BRICS and has a lot of potential. I think that such projects will be supported in the future. The project can even be turned into asystem that will allow astronauts to collect pictures and show us how beautiful the Earth is from space. This will allow us to find the best ways to know and help each other here on Earth," said Sergey Krikalev, special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for international cooperation in space and Soviet and Russian cosmonaut, in his opening speech.

The grand opening ceremony was attended by notable guests, including cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, Sergey Avdeev, and Pavel Vinogradov. Additionally, representatives from the Brazilian Embassy in Russia, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, and the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO were present. Irina Abramova, one of the photographers contributing to the collected Earth photos, also attended the opening ceremony.

Expressing satisfaction with the exhibition's reception, Galina Muromtseva, the head of the project and director of the Nizhny Novgorod Planetarium, said, "It is exceptionally pleasant that the opening of our exhibition has aroused such interest. We really wanted to show that the Earth is so big and so small at the same time. We are all so different, but we are all inhabitants of the same planet. It is such events that help us create and convey these emotions and feelings. It's great that everything worked out well. I am grateful for the support of the Roscosmos State Corporation, which allowed the photos to be exhibited and made it possible for cosmonauts to travel as part of the events. Thank you very much."

Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, a cosmonaut and hero of the Russian Federation, also voiced his emotions about the project at the Museum of Cosmonautics. "It's nice to see our more experienced colleagues at the exhibition. Every cosmonaut who enters orbit, first of all, wants to capture the beauty of the Earth from space. Of course, we look at the places close to our hearts, the places we have heard about and read about, or seen in photos. The BRICS countries have exciting cultures and thousands of years of history. Some of the most interesting sites on the planet are located there. They are indeed worth visiting," shared Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

The exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics at VDNH is open to the public until March 10, 2024. Credit: BRICS Universe

The exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics at VDNH is open to the public until March 10, 2024. Credit: BRICS Universe

The exhibition at the Moscow Cosmonautics Museum is scheduled to run until March 10; after that it will travel through nine other UNESCO Creative Cities.

In Russian cities: St. Petersburg in March, Kargopol in April, Nizhny Novgorod in June, Ulyanovsk in July, and Kazan in October.

In cities abroad: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in March; Beijing (China) in June; Mumbai (India) in September; and Durban (South Africa) in October. 

Exhibitions in these cities will feature meetings with Russian cosmonauts, who will share insights into the project, activities at the International Space Station, achievements of Russian cosmonautics, space projects, and scientific and cultural interaction initiatives within the BRICS space.

"Such exhibition projects strengthen international humanitarian collaboration and lay the foundation for interaction not only at the state level but also at the level of people and organizations. We want as many people as possible to learn about the incredible cultural, natural, and historical heritage of the BRICS countries. We hope that our project will keep developing and our exposition will be presented in the expanded geography of the BRICS," said Tatyana Ivshina, creative producer of the project, Director of the Creative Industries Foundation of the Ulyanovsk Region, and Head of the Russia – BRICS Project Office for International Youth Cooperation.

The BRICS Universe project emerges as a result of collaboration that seamlessly merges space exploration with the art of photography. The exhibition is a testament to international cooperation, scientific exploration, and the artistic portrayal of our interconnected world. As it continues its journey through UNESCO Creative Cities, the project is poised to leave a lasting impact on cultural exchange, scientific discovery, and the celebration of the diverse beauty of our planet.

Special thanks to Kira Ivanova, manager for interaction with creative teams of UNESCO Cities, for her assistance in the preparation of this article.