The idea and the decision to create a museum of the War appeared in June 1943, in the middle of the battle for liberation of Ukraine of Nazi invaders. However, other priority issues, like reconstruction and development of the economy and social issues postponed the implementation of this decision till mid-1970s of the previous century.
The Republican exhibition named The Guerrillas of Ukraine in Their Fight against Fascist German Invaders, opened in April 1946 and obtained status of the first category museum is considered to be one of the important stages of development of the modern museum.
In early 1950s the museum was closed, its materials were transferred to the fund collection of the State Historic Museum (today it is National Museum of the History of Ukraine); in 1970 the creative group for the establishment of the museum of the war history was organized.
«The Ukrainian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War of 1941 – 1945» was inaugurated on Pechersk in the former Klovskyi Palace on 17th October 1974. It immediately drew attention of the public and numerous visitors. It became obvious that the various thematic and rich museum collections demanded other scientific concept and the special building. The construction of Memorial complex «The Ukrainian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941 – 1945» started. It was opened on 9th May 1981.
All activities of the Memorial are aimed at helping people to understand origins of tragedies of wars, showing ways to prevent them and uncover the historical truth about the sacrifice and heroism of the Ukrainian people in the struggle against Nazism and promote patriotic upbringing of citizens, young people in particular.
Effect of this work is provided by rich fund collection which is one of the largest in Ukraine. Museum collections are constantly enriched and consist of about 400 thousand exhibits. This allows you to update and to develop the main exhibition and to create various exhibitions annually. The Memorial has become a leading research, scientific, methodical and educational center of the war history of Ukraine. About 30 million visitors from many countries, from all continents have already become acquainted with the expositions.
High rating of the museum, public interest and interest of specialists to its multifaceted activity is provided by intellectual potential of experienced scientists and curators. It is maintained by prolific creative contacts with national and foreign museums, scientists of NAS Institute of History of Ukraine, government agencies, NGO and the media. Taking into account the importance of the Memorial Complex as a unique memory sight of the national culture and in order to preserve its historic and cultural values the museum was granted the National status by a decree of the President of Ukraine dated the 21st June, 1996. Changing the name to the National museum was the logical consequence of scientific, research, exposition and educational work of the staff for a long time.
Focus on the Ukrainian factor in the exposition, interpretation of history of the largest military conflict of the 20th century without straightness and simplicity, the expansion of all forms of the museum activities, social and political realities have become the definite reasons that actualized the change of the name of the museum. The institution was renamed as a National Museum of History of Ukraine in the Second World War by the Decree of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine on 16th July, 2015. The staff of the National Museum continues active work focusing all activities on the humanitarian dimension of the global war tragedy.
The history of everyday life and priority focus on a person convince that war is not only a great policy of fighting countries but first of all the people with their own deep empathy, heroic deeds, tragic mistakes, etc. The following anthropological emphasis and changes of the exposition will be based not only on the realities of the present but on the previous scientific basis and communicative experience of the museum as well.
To present in objective and comprehensive way the history of the greatest military conflict of the twentieth century with the help of the museum collection.
To show the scale and the consequences of this catastrophe for Ukraine in the global context through the fate of its participants, witnesses and victims.
To reveal the historical realities about the sacrifice and heroism of the Ukrainian people in the struggle against Nazism in all contradictory dimensions and manifestations.
To help visitors to understand the origins of tragedies that lead to wars, to show the ways how to prevent them and to understand the lessons of the past for humanity.
To recover from the oblivion the names of fallen soldiers and civilians killed during the war.
To recover the historical memory of the Ukrainian society about the events of the Second World War.
To promote the education of patriotic and conscious citizens of Ukraine.