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On the Line of Fire

A new exhibition of the Museum project “The Ukrainian East” is entitled “On the Line of Fire”. The story of the victories and tragedies of the patriots of Ukraine, who defend its sovereignty against the Russian aggressor in the eastern territories of our state, overcome the results of enemies’ intervention, hybrid war crimes and break the plans of the creeping Putinism.

In the exhibition space, outlined by the nominal and expositional clusters-blocks of “Ours”, “Aliens” and “(Non)aliens”, the fire line in the zone of the Operation of the United Forces in the East of Ukraine is symbolically reconstructed. The expressiveness of the fire border is enhanced by banners with the original photographs of destruction and shelling. The closed capsule – “Pandora's box”, – figuratively fixes the moment of the long-awaited peace on the Ukrainian soil.

In the exposition space of the section “Ours” the line of fire runs through damaged and mutilated, but life-saving vehicles for warriors and volunteers, each of which has its own unique history, then it is continued and intensified by 27 uplifted blue-yellow flags – the symbols of administrative and territorial units of unitary State. Cut up with shrapnel shell fragments, smelled of gunpowder, faded under the burning sun, they fluttered on top of the dugouts, checkpoints and buildings, and now they foretell our Victory.

Symbolic battalions, standing on fire positions, are represented by personal things of servicemen who stop the enemy's fire; chaplains who care about the soul of a soldier; physicians who treat and save wounded bodies of soldiers in field conditions; volunteers whose disinterested help, especially during the first months of the confrontation, was so necessary for our defenders, journalists whose reports bring us a bitter truth about the war inspiring faith in the inevitable Victory.

Road signs and pointers of settlements that had previously paved the lines of peaceful allocation, now damaged by enemies’ shelling, denote the notional boundary between war and peace, between “Ours” and “Aliens”.

The topic of hybrid warfare, which Russia conducts by various methods and means, is underlined in the block of the exposition “Aliens”. Here is a series of irrefutable testimonies of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, in particular a documentary photo depicting the remains of the Boeing MН17.

The section “(Non)aliens” is about the difficult fate of residents of Donbas, who found themselves in the zone of war. The exposition presents the controversial choice of some of them, who stepped on the path of separatism and betrayal, as well as the tragedy of those who did not pass over to the enemy, but had to stay in the occupied territory. Another one story is about those who remained a patriot of Ukraine, did not lose the state spirit, national consciousness and identity, joined the resistance to the Russian invaders.

The location of exhibits on a conditional line of fire from the beginning of the exposition to its completion reflects the dynamics of warfare, the gradual extinction of the fire tension and gradually transforms into the “hall of hope”, presented by several museum installations. In the center there is an “ambulance” minibus that took away from the line of fire many wounded people and signals about the urgent assistance that Ukraine requires, being exhausted by the war. Near our soldier’s uniforms and body armors which symbolically form the protective “Shield of Ukraine” and photographs of their children, as a prominent example of hope for the Meeting, Unity, Peace and Victory. The hope for the liberation of the occupied territories is inspired by the non-indifference of the children “from there” – their letters and pictures, stories about their homes, toys, as well as the surviving piano from the kindergarten of destroyed village of Pisky as a kind of charm of the peaceful future of our State and the hope of returning to native Donbas.

Glory to Ukraine!

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – time of trial

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) has always been based on the principles of Ukrainianness, love of Motherland, surroundings, God... In different times the Church was persecuted and undesirable in the eyes of the occupiers. But even in hard times for the worshipers the Church lived the life of its congregation, shared its joy and dissent, condemning itself to imprisonment, persecution and martyr's death.

“The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church ¬– time of trial”. The essence of the presented exposition lies already in its title, where with the help of museum exhibits the key events are represented on the difficult way to the revival, and the memory of the priests and Greek Catholics is honored.

Most of the exhibits are presented to the general public for the first time. Some came from declassified archives, others – from semi-closed personal collections that were carefully hidden and stored in families. The museum scientists collected the original materials bit by bit during many scientific trips; they are an evidence of deep Christian faith and unbending loyalty to the Church and people. Documentary evidence is the primary source of the State Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine, the Central State Archives of Public Organizations of Ukraine and the materials of the collector-researcher Dmytro Pirkl.

Unique artifacts from the funds of the Museum of Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytskyi in Lviv of Archdiocese of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church are emphasized. Each of these exhibits is permeated with light saturated color, special heat which combines the grace, full of prayer energy.

For the first time in the National Museum there is a story about the Greek-Catholic clergy of Galicia, Zakarpattia, Bukovina which played a significant role in the Ukrainian revival, especially in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the biographies of the Greek Catholic priests who carried out pastoral activities during the Soviet and Nazi occupations. Despite a broad campaign of persecution, intimidation, discrediting of the Greek Catholic Episcopate and clergy, the spiritual Fathers provided the church itself, preserved the opportunity for worshipers to have access to the sacraments, to help the rebels, and to save the Jews during the Nazi occupation. Here are the documents on the preparation and conduct of the Lviv pseudo-council, the reaction of the laity to the transition to Orthodoxy, the underground period of the church and the stay of priests in the Gulag.

Artifacts tell of those who did not renounce their faith experiencing incredible difficulties and passed through the hell of the Soviet camps.

Portraits of Metropolitans Andrii Sheptytskyi and Yosyf Slipyi, the personal belongings, postcards, presented on the exhibition, confirm their life-giving way. Pay attention to the materials of the priest Stepan-Roman Kolomyiets, the pastor of one of the villages in Galicia, who, during the Nazi occupation, saved young people from exportation to forced labor in Germany; the priest Yosyf Raikh who helped the Ukrainians to survive during the war and was brutally tortured by the Poles who acted as members of the NKVD battalions; of the priest Mykola Tsehelskyi who was arrested for refusing to go to Orthodoxy; of the nun Maria (civil name – Faina Liakher) who saved from the Nazi persecution the nuns of the women's monastery in Lviv region.

The exhibition does not pretend to complete and comprehensive presentation of history of the Greek Catholic Church during the war and in the underground period, only some controversial issues are outlined. We made an attempt to transfer them from the politics to the history and to answer them in the language of museum materials.

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