Upgraded museums: how seven museums changed after their mini-projects won the competition


In mid-February seven local history museums in Luhansk and Donetsk regions hosted presentations of the mini-projects by the museums of Donetsk and Luhansk regions that won the competition in the framework of the project “Under construction: Museum open III”. A month after UCMC asked the museum professionals what had changed after the projects were launched and new expositions were opened.

“As it turns out, we know nothing about eastern Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk regions, we live in the world of myths, clichés and stereotypes. It also turns out that there are lots of interesting and unique themes that we are excited to work with and share,” said Leonid Marushchak, head of the Arts Department of Ukraine Crisis Media Center and head of the project “Under construction: Museum open”.

Mariupol: what do the city residents expect from the museum?

Mariupol local history museum is one of the oldest and biggest museums in eastern Ukraine featuring the biggest collection. The museum’s project is about researching the public opinion in the city on what the museum should be after the renovation and the change of exposition. ”We joined efforts with academicians and the city’s civil society to interview about two thousand Mariupol residents. For two months the entire city was talking about the museum. We have already planned the changes,” explains Natalia Kapustnikova, director of the Mariupol local history museum.

This coming April or May the museum plans to present a big exhibition to its 100thanniversary at the Mariupol state university. They also plan to take part in scientific conferences.

Bilovodsk: horse farming worth being told

The Bilovodsk local history museum prepared the project “Bilovodsk is Ukraine’s horse farming capital”. Ukraine numbers 11 horse farms, three of which are located in the Bilovodsk area. The project seeks to inform the wider audience about horse farming in Bilovodsk, so that people get excited about coming and seeing them with their own eyes. Some premises were constructed back in the 18th-19thcenturies. “We want to transform the horse farms into the sites of historic and cultural heritage, there are no sites like these ones in Luhansk region,” said Hennadiy Vereskun, director of the Bilovodsk district-level local history museum.

Druzhkivka: porcelain treasures

As part of the project, the Druzhkivka history and fine arts museum created a pdf-catalogue of its unique porcelain collection. There are over 500 porcelain pieces in the museum’s storage. It’s not just the collection of items produced by the local factory but also the collection by the craftspeople, said Svitlana Kryvonosova, director of the Druzhkivka history and fine arts museum. Over the years the items produced by the porcelain factory have become a certain brand – the works by Druzhkivka-based craftspeople have their unique traits that make them stand out.

Novoaidar: a unique collection of traditional garments

For over 20 years the Novoaidar district-level local history museum was studying how the area had been populated by looking at the traditional costumes widespread in the region in the 19th-20thcenturies. In the framework of the project the exposition was completely renovated. By changing the location of exhibits and lighting, the visual perception of the collection was changed completely. “Since the project was launched we’ve had 678 visitors, thematic excursions were requested much more often than the standard ones – everyone wanted to see exactly these halls. People spend hours here,” said Hanna Bozhko, director of the Novoaidar district-level local history museum.

Neskuchne village: the “Phantom” of Mykola Korf

The Mansion museum of Volodymyr Nemyrovych-Danchenko and Mykola Korf is implementing the “Phantom” project dedicated to Mykola Korf – a school teacher who was developing a new educational system in the region in the 19thcentury. The project foresees that the photographs and memories about him are collected from local residents. At first people were reluctant to share what they had but over the time the interest of the community grew. Now, on the contrary people are asking that the photos from their family archives are added to the exposition, said Maryna Hluhko, head of the Mansion museum of Volodymyr Nemyrovych-Danchenko and Mykola Korf.

The museum staff has set up contacts with their fellow colleagues and teachers in Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. They plan to renovate the museum premises and open a new exposition.

Velykoanadolskyi forest museum: environmental studies in simple words

The Velykoanadolskyi forest museum is dedicated to the Velykoanadolskyi forest that was artificially planted as an experiment – to see if a forest can change the local climate. The museum premises were initially constructed as a forest observatory. The museum’s project “Ecological observatory” focuses on environmental themes. “The most popular site is the game zone where children can learn about the renewable energy sources. Thanks to the construction toys is it truly exciting,” said Olena Kashenets, head of the Velykoanadolskyi forest museum.

Pokrovsk: Mykola Leontovych as part of the town’s cultural code

The Pokrovsk local history museum is implementing the project “The cultural code of Pokrovsk”. One of the project’s protagonists is composer Mykola Leontovych. “He lived in our city for just four years but it is a very important element of our city’s history. With this project we wanted to dismantle several stereotypes. The first one is that Pokrovsk (former Krasnoarmiysk) is a merely industrial city, the second one is that its museums are technically outdated. We opened a new exposition. Everyone can now play a plain melody on the digital piano. It might seem like an unimportant detail but it actually creates a huge interest with the visitors,” said Anzhela Rozhkova, director of the Pokrovsk local history museum.

Recently vandals broke off the baton on the monument of Mykola Leontovych. In response the museum organized a flash mob – 100 wooden batons were produced and distributed to all interested, one of the batons replaced the damaged one. The anti-vandalism action was highly popular with the civil society and local media.

As part of the new exposition the museum introduced a special book where local residents can write down an actor or a process they consider important for the cultural code of Pokrovsk. Museum staff will study these notes to expand the exposition in the future.

More detailed information on each project is available here.

The museums that have project ideas that they would like to implement, can submit their project proposals for the grants by the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation. There are two grant proposals available today, one of them is for the projects on cultural heritage.