With the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine, along with the preservation of the integrity of the state and the preservation of people's lives, the issues of preserving cultural heritage and national identification became acute. No matter how strange and difficult it is, the museums and nature reserves that did not fall under the occupation did not stop working. And this year, archaeological research, conferences, and thematic excursions were held. In part, the reenactment community was active. All this was combined with volunteering for the front and helping the victims, in particular colleagues, because a large part of cultural and scientific workers went to the front зdefend Ukraine with volunteers. Some of them, being in the Armed Forces, continue to contribute to the development of the industry in a new format. Those who remained in their places faced new realities, daily challenges (shelling, lack of electricity, water, reduction of personnel) but with a new powerful motivation that moves our people to victory. Museum workers and reenactors decided to share their thoughts.
- What do you think about the importance of your work and do you continue it during the war ?
- What difficulties did you face in this situation and how do you overcome them?
- How do you think the war will affect the activities after the victory, what is the first do you plan to implement for the development of the industry?
"We became part of the cultural front. After all, culture is the best way to convey why and for what
we are fighting, our values and freedoms."
Director of Tustan State Historical and Cultural Reserve
During the war, Ukrainian identity became a subject of wide interest both for foreigners and for Ukrainians themselves. Society is able to defend itself when it is united by common interests values and realizes his identity. In these conditions, the role of museum workers is growing significantly. Some of the museum workers and preservationists of Ukraine went to the front with weapons in their hands. Those who remained in the rear - they save the cultural heritage from military actions and present it to everyone available means. Museums remind people who they are and what we are fighting for. It is important also because many internally displaced persons today visit museum institutions about which they did not know in peacetime.
The activity of museums and nature reserves raises the morale of those who are fighting the enemy at the front. After all, the Ukrainian military sees what it is they are protecting and what they are risking for by life.
The shortage of personnel in the museum and monument protection industries, which took place earlier, is even greater intensified after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Some specialists left for border, or changed the type of activity. Attracting state budget funds to the museum activity is also complicated by wartime laws.
At the same time, new opportunities have opened up for the use of international resources for the museum activity Museum teams capable of international cooperation successfully accept aid from foreign funds and programs, gain experience in working with Western partners. Deliveries of humanitarian goods for preservation play an important role in supporting museums valuables, in particular fire-fighting means, packaging materials, backup power supplies etc. Researchers and custodians of cultural values will be responsible for the post-war reconstruction of the country great responsibility. They will be the main source of knowledge about national and local cultural features of Ukraine. This knowledge will be applied in the restoration of the damaged monuments, cultural decolonization of the country, as well as in tourism, education, architecture, design and others spheres.
We hope that the museum and monument preservation industries of Ukraine will gain their due public and state recognition, which was lacking before. Priority measures which are already partially implemented, I consider the systematization and digitization of knowledge about cultural heritage of Ukraine, integration of cultural heritage into education, creation of modern museums of local history at the tourist information centers of each territorial community. Of immovable heritage, it is important to improve the effectiveness of legislation and cultural protection bodies heritage in terms of control and supervision of construction works.
Director of Trupillya Cultural Reserve, archaeologist
In the first days of a large-scale war, there were doubts about the advisability of remaining the director of the Reserve, when there were six scientific employees on the staff. Maybe drop everything and go to war as a volunteer? The former won, as the museum's archaeological collection of 90,000 storage units had to be protected and, if necessary, transported to a safe zone. So we continued to work: laboratory research, encryption, restoration, plans for museum re-exposition and organization of a conference for the 130th anniversary of the opening of Trypil culture reserve. Stopping activities during the war means not only surrendering to the enemy, but betraying one's own principles.
The first difficulties we encountered were the winding down of the exposition in the first days of the war, the search for containers and packing material for the transportation of artifacts. On the basis of the museum, we created a volunteer headquarters to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the IDPs: collecting aid, products, funds, weaving camouflage nets. This year, we practically lost visitors, the archaeological season and the usual rhythm of life at the museum. However, by the summer, it was partially restored, and it was also possible to receive help from European foundations: from boxes for transportation to work clothes.
Now we are actively working on plans for museum re-exposition, carrying out a number of archaeological experiments and resuming tourist activities. War destroys, but it also mobilizes. After the Victory, we have to digitize the majority of our archaeological collection, complete the reconstruction of the museum territory and, finally, begin the creation of the long-dreamed-of Trypil open-air museum.
Experimental archaeologist, crafter, project manager https://www.facebook.com/
Basically, archaeological artifacts in museums are exhibited with significant damage, so it is difficult for a visitor to see a complete thing. the graphic enhancement will be perceived and seen by a small group of specialists. But when a thing is reproduced in material, it becomes a full-fledged original object, technology, or intangible cultural property (for example, music on reconstructed musical instruments, poetry, food). Although we may never know whether the reconstruction is correct and the product in the material begins to live its own life, become an inspiration for creativity and give new motives for the latest combinations and interpretations, for example, what happened to the horned helmets of the Vikings, which today live their full life in mass culture. And the more we extract and highlight examples and approaches from the past, the more interpretive material we will have for "puzzles" to create in the future. Studying the activities of people who lived thousands of years ago and reconstructing their products and imitating technologies. I continue to create boats, musical instruments, household items that present the life and partly the values of people who lived only 30 generations away from us. By talking about my activities, I have the opportunity to influence the creation of greater potential and opportunities for the creative diversity of future generations. And the war will end and the lost time cannot be returned, so I continue on my way.
The war of aggression launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine canceled all my plans for the coming years. It took me about 6 months to stabilize my activity. Realizing that at any moment I would have to join the army, the planning fluctuated between a daily plan, a weekly plan, and long-term plans.
All activities related to reconstruction activities were canceled, and also a large number of masters related to the war, left or engaged in volunteering during the war, so most communications and social ties are broken. A large part of scientific works on the period of Kievan Rus, which I mainly research, became unavailable, in the wake of the war, many Russian Internet resources were blocked. Also, activities in the field of reconstruction environment ceased to bring income.
In the projects that I developed before the war "Medieval Ship" and "Embassy of the Russian Kingdom" there are still many details that need research and reproduction. So I take a segment by segment, research topics that are interesting to me and, if possible, reproduce them in the material. For me, this kind of work is a kind of therapy that distracts from the situation that is happening as a result of the war.
Although the war is not over yet and despite all its horrors and destruction, it is an extremely important and useful phenomenon for Ukraine. The more problems that arise, the more opportunities there are for fresh ideas to solve them. As a result of the war in the world, the interest in Ukrainian culture has obviously increased significantly. About which little is known in the world, and even less about the history that formed the Ukrainian identity. Therefore, after the war, a significant number of guests will go to Ukraine to learn more, and if the potential to tell about themselves in Ukraine is lacking, experts will join to help conduct a reflection of self-identification from the outside, which is already happening. and this is a great chance for Ukraine, which not every country has. After the end of the war, I want to start work on the All-Ukrainian electronic catalog of archaeological artifacts of Ukrainian lands, which should greatly simplify the activities of people who reproduce them. And to expand knowledge about Ukrainian archaeological heritage in the world. And finish the reconstruction of a 13-meter boat from the period of Kyivan Rus.
Archaeologist at Institute of Archeology National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Archaeology as a science explores the huge period of human development from the very beginning of the human origin and, practically, up to the times close to the present. Archaeology takes the main role in writing the ancient history of mankind. It is difficult to underestimate the importance of this science in the formation of social consciousness and self-identification in our country. If you have a look at the passport of a citizen of the country – it is easy to see that the vast majority of the illustrative material of the passport, which distinguishes it among similar documents of other countries, are archaeological finds from the territory of Ukraine. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not only interesting to study the ancient history of mankind and conduct archaeological excavations, but also quite important for the formation of public consciousness. It is quite obvious that being in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, an archaeologist cannot fully engage in his professional activities. But ... Having received almost three months of almost free time after the injury during staying in the hospital, I was able to write two scientific articles and finish preparing for the publication of scientific “Between the Dnipro and the Bosphorus: Intercivilization Contacts in the Medieval Times Essay”.
Also I managed to finish the preparation of the ancient settlements catalogue and castles Zhytomyr region. The catalogue is prepared with a large number of illustrative materials. The proceeds from the publication sale will be sent to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The main problem that prevents the maximum effective use of the time that can be free during military service and can be used for archaeological research is interruptions with electricity and access to the Internet. As for me, this is the main problem, which, if possible, I try to overcome by all available technical means.
The war will be over. It will end in victory. Our victory. I am far from painting rosy prospects for national archaeology. The shattered economy, mutilated archaeological monuments, minefields and a lot of explosives on the sites for archaeological research, the loss of wounded and dead colleagues will bring their bitter component to the post-war archaeological life. It will be different. There will be, and already is, a strong reorientation in the general vector of archaeological research to the West. There will be and already is a reduction and termination of scientific ties with our eastern neighbor – Russia. Increasing and expanding relations with our European colleagues. The volume of “science-intensive” archaeological research will increase significantly by increasing the possibility of attracting new equipment and technologies, the possibility of attracting specialists of other specialties and conducting additional analyses.
Personally, after the war, I would like to see the continuation of my field research and experimental archaeology. One of these can be considered the study of ancient water vehicles.
Project manager at Ostvytsia Historical Park
The life of Ukrainians has changed dramatically since February 24, 2022. Meanings and priorities have changed both at the level of individuals and of the state. So during the first weeks of the full-scale invasion, our main task was not to let despair paralyze us. We understood that we had to act, we had to do something.
With the onset of warm weather, we began to conduct various educational activities for different age groups, resumed boat trips, where people could escape from everyday life, communicate and improve their emotional state. We started working with internally displaced persons from other regions of Ukraine, because after solving the priority humanitarian issues, this category needed social adaptation in a new place. For the first time we held a closed event for the military who were disabled during the war.
We became part of the cultural front. After all, culture is the best way to convey why and for what we are fighting, our values and freedoms. Thus, our team managed to implement several interesting and significant projects.
First of all, this is the project “Laisvė” (Laisvė means “Freedom” in Lithuanian), which involved the creation of a new sailing boat. This is a joint Ukrainian-Lithuanian project, the implementation of which became possible thanks to our Lithuanian friends who are involved in the protection of our country from Russian military aggression. This project confirms the unanimous position of Ukraine and Lithuania in the war against Muscovy. The Laisve sail is made of the parachute fabric of Ukrainian paratroopers who heroically participated in the battles for control of the strategically important Antonov airport near Gostomel. The sail depicts a symbol that combines the State Emblem of Ukraine – the Trident and the Columns of Gediminas – one of the oldest state symbols of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia and Zemaitia. The same pattern is the symbol of the Lithuanian Military Training Mission, which is currently carrying out an important military training mission in Ukraine. More about this project - https://ostvytsya.com.ua/boats/laisve/
Another important project is the creation of a ceremonial boat for the Day of the Dead, during which the Azov soldiers honored the memory of their comrades who fell in the battles for Ukraine. This year Ostvytsia team had the honor to join this project, and specifically helped to create a ceremonial boat. Video of the event - https://youtu.be/EKeY3Cmmq50
Emotional burnout due to the war. We were able to solve this problem through maximum immersion in work. Constant employment helps to concentrate attention and distracts from bad thoughts.
Risk of losing project team members. This risk is associated with the presence of a large number of different projects and programs that help Ukrainians abroad. So far, we have managed to keep the core team, which continues to work despite the war in Ukraine.
Financial difficulties are to some extent a common phenomenon for NGOs, but during the war we especially felt the lack of funds for daily operational activities. In the first months of the war we did not receive any income or support at all. However, we continued to work and started to look for new sources of income.
The war makes us think about our identity, about who we are. We, Ukrainians, will be more interested in history, our cultural heritage, our past. There will be many new interesting projects related to our heroic past and present.
One of the first projects to be implemented after our victory is the construction of a mound next to the Ostvytsia Historical Reconstruction Park in honor of the soldiers who died for our freedom.