Exhibition “Returning the Occupied Territories”

Five years of war. Five years of our people’s struggle against the Russian aggression in the East of Ukraine. In summer 2014 a fierce struggle continued for the settlements of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. In the battles the Ukrainian soldiers gave their lives, but gained victory liberating their native cities.

The National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War together with the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance represents an exhibition project about the liberation of Ukrainian territories. The exhibition represents photographs that reflect the chronology of the liberation of Mariupol, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Sieverodonetsk, Lysychansk and a dozen settlements. The artifacts tell us about the fate of the participants of the battles. These are the personal belongings of Hero of Ukraine Serhii Kulchytskyi, Bohdan Vovnenko, Stepan Chubenko and Ohanes Petrosian. Significant relics at the exhibition are the victorious Ukrainian flags raised above the liberated Kramatorsk, Mariupol and Shchastia. Graphic paintings from the series “Black Calendar”, depicted by the artists Serhii Druziaka and Serhii Lytvynov who were the witnesses of Kramatorsk occupation, are the evidences of the fact that even the horrors of war can become an impetus for the creation of art. In the exhibition a part of the objects was collected by the museum staff during a scientific trip to Donetsk and Luhansk regions and is presented to the general public for the first time.

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!

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