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British Museum opens free display "Ukraine: Culture in crisis"

2022-04-27

The British Museum has installed a free display Ukraine: Culture in crisis. Inside the Museum's Collecting the world gallery, this temporary display celebrates Ukrainian culture from deep history to the present, using objects drawn from the Museum's collection and curated by the Museum's experts. The objects on display provide a talking point for visitors concerned about the current conflict in Ukraine. 

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said 'Culture is precious yet fragile: whether tangible or intangible, it fosters understanding and belonging. The scale of human displacement and destruction in Ukraine is deeply distressing, as are the threats to its rich culture. We extend our deepest sympathy to the people of Ukraine and stand ready to provide support to our colleagues in museums and at historic sites across Ukraine'.  

The cultural heritage of Ukraine, the largest country in Europe, dates back nearly one million years, when early human hunter-forager groups populated areas along the Black Sea coast and gradually spread inland. About 8,000 years ago, early farming communities began to exploit the fertile black soils and established prosperous, large settlements between Kyiv and Odessa. Agriculture and trade continued to thrive long after these sites had declined. By the 400s BC, cosmopolitan towns grew up on the Black Sea coast, influenced by Greek colonists and Scythian tribes originating in southern Siberia. 

From the AD 800s to early 1000s, Kyiv became the capital of the kingdom of Rus' and Christianity was adopted as the main religion. The city was sacked in 1240 by the Mongols, and the centre of Rus' shifted north to Moscow. Western Ukraine was successively occupied by Poland, Lithuania, Austria and Russia. Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union in 1922, suffered heavily from induced famine in 1932-3 and again during the Holocaust. It gained full independence in 1991.

Press release