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Nigel Spicer, Issue 114/05, p14, 01.05.2014
Nigel Spicer on Ukraine's struggles
Last autumn, I visited Kiev in Ukraine as part of the Arts Council England-funded Museums and Resilient Leadership CPD programme. I found tension on the street, but also in our sector.

Internationally significant heritage sites and museums were entrusted with not only the preservation and celebration of national culture, creativity and history, but also the definition of a new post-USSR state.

All this against a background of a non-existent tourist infrastructure, seemingly intractable government, Soviet-era social attitudes, grinding poverty and oligarchical excesses.

Now, after the sweeping away of the eastward-looking regime, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing unrest, this nation’s treasures and the institutions that interpret them are at significant risk.

As the pressures of de-Russification and de-Ukrainification intensify, it is time that we, as a professional community, did more to help our colleagues.

We may not be able to assist a great deal on a macro level, but we can provide support either individually or as organisations.

Our colleagues in Ukraine are dedicated to their work and the uncertainties that they are facing are huge, professionally and personally.

In the UK, our museums have undergone transformative changes over the past 20 years – a journey on which many Ukrainian institutions were just embarking.

Even in just talking, we can listen, share, learn and mentor. It is what we do so well, after all.

Comments

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Damian Gaster
MA Member
08.05.2014, 11:21
The key commemorative issue is the martyrdom of the demonstrators in Kiev. In Britain we have the cenotaph as a focus of national feeling about the sacrifice made to defend our freedom and territorial integrity. Only Ukrainians can prescribe the form their memorial might take.
Jonathan Gammond
MA Member
Access & Interpretation Officer, Wrexham County Borough Museum
07.05.2014, 00:54
I visited the city museum in Lvov and had a fascinating chat with one of the curators there. He was involved in the historical re-enactment scene and to say their ideas of re-enactment are light years ahead of what happens here is an understatement. No rocking up in your car on a Sunday morning and puffing on a fag /snacking on a burger during the breaks between Cavalier and Roundhead skirmishes. They spent several days re-enacting life in the medieval times, even down to the detail of catching their food in an authentically medieval fashion.

The tourism infrastructure is a little underdeveloped, though their version of St Fagans/Avoncroft Buildings Museum outside Kyiv could hold its own against many western European museums once you take into account the miserable amount of money they get. To say, you work in a museum in the eastern part of Europe usually attracts sympathy rather admiration.