Museums in Ukraine Feel War’s Impact

In Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, the Hryhoriy Skovoroda National Literary and Memorial Museum was decimated by a Russian missile strike on 6 May 2022. The 18th-century philosopher and writer spent the last years of his life on the property, living in the building that became a memorial to his legacy.     

“He was a man who managed to capture the Ukrainian identity so powerfully,” said Hanna Yarmish, head of the museum’s educational department, of its namesake.  

The loss was monumental, she said, adding that they will “rebuild.”  

Some 350 miles away, an art museum in Kherson Oblast experienced its own losses during the war. 

Ihor Rusol, an employee of the Kherson Regional Art Museum, walks through an area of the museum that was undergoing renovation before the war. (photo: Konstantin Chernichkin)

“They are killing our culture, our minds,” said Alina Dotsenko, director of Kherson Regional Art Museum.  

The museum was looted by members of the Russian Federal Security Service in early November, and 10,000 items from the institution’s collection of 14,000 were transported to Crimea.  

“What shows Ukraine at its best — moonlit nights over the Dnipro River, fields and meadows, forests and the Carpathian Mountains — better than art?” she asked. 

The Russian invasion has killed, maimed and destroyed. Tens of thousands of people have been killed. As well, in addition to the environmental destruction and the loss of animal and plant life, Ukraine’s cultural patrimony, its identity, is at risk.

To hear more from Ms. Yarmish and Ms. Dotsenko, watch the video below. To learn more, read “Erasing Identity” in the June 2023 edition of ONE. And to support CNEWA’s work to help displaced Ukrainians, click here

Olivia Poust is assistant editor of ONE.

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