Read, Watch and Listen

The Story 3

Vivian de De Sola Pinto  1895-1969. Pinto was Professor of English at the University of Nottingham, 1938-1961. He  also had an interest in languages and other cultures, including Russian. He volunteered for war service. Nothing is certain, but he appears to have been involved in secret and/or diplomatic missions, during which he acquired, or he may have been presented with, his collection of Windows and printed posters. On his death in 1969 Pinto left his collection to the University of Nottingham  along with his library. The Windows were folded and becoming fragile, and their true significance as war art was only gradually realised. 

The Story 4

TASS Window 1211, 'We'll destroy the hydra!', 5 May 1945. Created on the brink of victory, the image shows the destruction of the enemy in the form of a mythical monster, the many-headed hydra. This window formed the poster for the 2008-09 exhibition at the University of Nottingham. It was a turning point for the war posters collection. The Windows were too large and fragile to be publicly shown, so the items which were to be exhibited were conserved and digitised. This decision made the  development of the current, new website possible. Currently 47 posters and prints from a total of 166 are now digitally available

Conservation 2

Specialist repairs have to be done, including the infilling of holes, and replacing glue where the original squares have worked loose. The large size of the posters (some are 2 m x 1.5 m) makes display difficult, and any  handling has to be kept to a minimum to avoid further damage


Image showing photographer at work. Before the digitisation process can begin, a Window has to be photographed, no easy matter with fragile artefacts of this size. Then work is undertaken on a computer to produce the required digitisation. Virtual repairs to the posters can take place at this stage. However, after much discussion it was agreed that the digitisation should reflect the actual present state of the posters, rather than enhance their colours or condition.

Team Work

TASS WINDOW 903, 'Two Faces', 12 February 1944. This project depended on a skilled, interdisciplinary team of web technologists, a conservator, a photographer/ digitiser, archivists, and academic researchers. Sometimes, different members were at odds over strategy towards these marvellous artefacts. However, consensus was always eventually reached. This Window captured Russian feelings towards Finland. Striving to become independent of USSR, Finland joined with the Germans, showing them a conciliatory lamb-like face, and baring her teeth towards Russia.

The team liked the implied humour and  the loggerheaded state in this poster. The image became an ironic metaphor for the immense collaborative work towards this first stage of the windowsonwar resource, launched in March 2013.   Discussion, conservation, digitisation and research go on.....

© University of Nottingham

Victoria Donovan, University of St Andrews

Victoria Donovan, based at the University of St Andrews, is a cultural historian of Russia whose research explores local identities, heritage politics, and the cultural memory of the Soviet past in twenty-first century Russia. Her new project explores patriotic identity in Putin’s Russia. She is also working on a project that looks at the connections between mining communities in South Wales and Eastern Ukraine.

Portraits from the Past

Lead Archaeologist Dr. Rick Knecht holds a carved wooden doll, freshly unearthed from Nunalleq. Dolls are commonly found at Nunalleq, and were used by the pre-contact Yup’ik in ceremony and religion but were also sometimes made as children’s toys. The range of expressions, and abstract and realistic representations of human faces found on dolls from Nunalleq, likely attest to both the different carvers and variable functions of these objects.

© This image is credited to Sven Haakanson, and is made available under Creative Commons BY

Faces from the Past

A Yup’ik boy contemplates anthropomorphic masks excavated from Nunalleq. Masks like these would have been worn during ceremonies, having a spiritual as well as artistic significance for the Yup’ik. Conversations over the artefacts engage young and old, and are an important new venue for trans-generational learning about traditional life-ways and knowledge. 

© This image is credited to Charlotta Hillerdal, and will be made available under Creative Commons BY 

Facing the Future

Yup’ik Elder and carver John Smith, holds a fragment of a wooden mask from Nunalleq to his face. Since the residents of Quinhagak and village corporation Qanirtuuq Inc. invited archaeologists to the village to investigate the Nunalleq site, archaeology has become part of village life and is paving new ways of accessing Yup’ik cultural heritage. With so little previous archaeological work in this area, this is the first time that the Yup’ik people have encountered the tangible remains of their pre-contact past on this scale.

© This image is credited to Sven Haakanson, and is made available under Creative Commons BY

Status and Social Networks

A set of amber beads lying in situ at the site. Amber is not a common find at Nunalleq, and would have been a rare and highly prestigious material in this part of the world. The closest known amber sources are Chirikof Island southwest of Kodiak or Unalaska. This find is not only significant in its rarity and beauty, but because it also demonstrates the long-distance trade and contact networks that operated in pre-contact coastal Alaska.

© This image is credited to Rick Knecht, and is made available under Creative Commons BY