Five weeks since the war in Ukraine began, the situation on the ground is worsening and several initiatives have been launched to help the country’s museum workers and protect its cultural heritage.
Committee for Aid to Museums of Ukraine
The Warsaw Rising Museum in Poland recently set up the Committee for Aid to Museums of Ukraine, which now includes representatives from several dozen Polish museums.
The committee is helping museums and cultural institutions in Ukraine to secure collections, supporting documentation, digitising the inventory of collections, providing materials needed to protect and hide collections, and collecting documentation proving the looting and destruction of Ukrainian cultural goods.
The committee is now looking to expand its efforts. The director of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, Jan Oldakowski, said: “We are convinced that it should be a global initiative. The entire international community should make every effort to support Ukrainian museologists in their heroic fight to preserve the cultural heritage.”
The group is keen to work with UK museums and is encouraging them to get in contact. The museum has the support of the British Council and the British Embassy in Poland. The points of contact for the committee are firstname.lastname@example.org or Anna Kotonowicz at email@example.com.
Heritage Rescue Emergency Initiative
The Ukraine-based Heritage Rescue Emergency Initiative (Heri) is a newly-founded project collecting donations and coordinating protection for museums, staff and their families as well as cultural heritage objects.
A list disseminated by the Network of European Museum Organisations (Nemo) on behalf of Heri outlines current needs, based on responses collected from 75 museums in 16 regions in Ukraine affected by the war. The list is regularly updated online.
Current needs include:
- Financial support for museum and cultural sector staff in emergency situations
- Mobile phone payment for the staff working on saving and protecting cultural heritage from destruction
- Generators and fuel
- Packing materials (cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, craft packing roll paper, stretch film, corrugated cardboard rolls, envelopes, waterproof pack bags, etc.)
- Fire extinguishers
- Sacks for sand
- Payment for cloud storage services.
Heri collects resources, including money, to cover the museums’ needs and communicates with those museums directly. The list includes price estimates of the different items to give an overview of the overall budget that is needed to efficiently help the Ukrainian museums and museum professionals.
Because of the war, Heri has not been able to open its own bank account and is collecting donations via the account of one of its co-founders, Tustan NGO. Heri representative Vasyl Rozhko is available to answer questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details on how to donate can be downloaded below.
International Council of Museums
The International Council of Museums (Icom) has issued a call for donations from its members to support museums and museum professionals in Ukraine.
In a statement, Icom said: “Given the many offers of direct aid received, a new dimension to the mutual assistance that Icom members, and museums in general, can provide is needed. That is why Icom has decided to open a call for donations, through which these offers of support can be coordinated at international level.”
Icom members can donate via the member space on Icom’s website.
Icom Poland is focusing on the needs of Ukrainian museum personnel who have found refuge in the country. The organisation has established a Ukrainian-speaking office and started to locate people scattered throughout Polish cities. It plans to provide three-month individual grants to museum professionals who apply to help accommodate their initial needs.
It is collecting donations from the international community to help fund this humanitarian work. Details on how to donate can be found on the organisation's website.
Network of European Museum Organisations
Nemo is gathering information on support actions and initiatives organised by museums for Ukraine. This includes details of support on the ground, storage and housing, job offers, donations, education and exhibitions, and statements of solidarity. It is encouraging museums and sector bodies to submit their own contributions.