Music School & Cinema

Pripyat’s music school and the Prometheus movie theater sit adjacent to each other on Kurchatova Street.

Music school

With a large auditorium and several rehearsal rooms, the school would once have resonated with the sound of music. A photograph of the grand piano on the slowly rotting stage is compulsory. If you’re curious as to how that piano now plays, Eliška Cílková found out.

The beautiful mosaic relief above the entrance was created by Ivan Lytovchenko in 1976 and is titled ‘Music’. It is made from smalto, specialised mosaic tesserae made from richly coloured glass. The vivid colours are achieved through adding metal oxides which produce an almost infinite range of colour possibilities.

A woman and child pose amongst flowers with the music school in the background.
The music school in happier times.

Prometheus Cinema

Another striking mosaic by Ivan Lytovchenko, titled ‘Energy’ and created in 1975, adorns the wall visible from the main street. As you approach the front a small wide set of steps leads up to the entrance.

When it first opened in the 1970’s large black letters on a blue background spelt out the name above the entrance. By 1985 this signage had been replaced by a roof-mounted sign common on many of Pripyat’s larger buildings. Walking through the doors of a then functioning cinema you’d have seen two cashier windows, a large café selling food and several arcade machines.

Now, once you leave the brightly lit foyer, light is at a premium. The main auditorium is dark, very damp and generally unpleasant. The shredded remains of a screen cling to a rusting frame on the front wall. The majority of the seats have been removed. A large chandelier, also gone, once hung from the centre of the ceiling. From the corridor outside, stairs take you up the projectionist’s room. As with many of the rooms its floor is strewn with rubbish and rusting metal. Anything of value long since removed including the projectors.

On the square directly in front stood a metal statue of Prometheus raising a torch skyward. In Greek mythology, Prometheus defied the gods by stealing fire and giving it to humanity. Zeus, king of the Olympian gods, sentenced the Titan to eternal torment for his transgression. Following the accident, the statue was decontaminated and moved to its present-day location in the Garden of Remembrance close the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant but the original plinth is still in situ.

Ivan Lytovchenko working on his mosaic in 1975
Ivan Lytovchenko at work in 1975 (
A close up of the statue of Prometheus with the centre of Pripyat in the background.
An impressive shot of the Prometheus with the city centre in the background.
A small boy poses in front of the Prometheus statue.
A rare colour photograph.
A side view of the cinema.
The cinema in 1981. Photograph by A Perminov.
The cinema in 1985.
The new roof mounted signage was added in 1985.

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