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Poland at forefront of efforts to help Ukrainian museums: officials

21.12.2022 00:30
Poland's Committee for Ukrainian Museums says it has sent 80 tonnes of equipment to help almost 90 museums in Ukraine.
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Historian Paweł Ukielski, deputy director of the Warsaw Rising Museum, which came up with the idea of helping protect Ukrainian art collections in March, has told Polish state news agency PAP that "the assistance project was born in Poland."

The Warsaw Rising Museum is dedicated to the Polish capital's 1944 insurgency against German occupying forces.

Ukielski said: "We realized in the first days of the war in Ukraine that our experience about the fate of Polish cultural treasures and national heritage during German occupation in World War II and the 1944 Warsaw Uprising could be useful in offering support to Ukrainians in protecting their cultural heritage."

He added that the Committee for Ukrainian Museums is "a civic body" that seeks to support Ukrainian institutions in protecting their art collections. It also aims to document, digitize and take stock of the collections, to provide materials needed to protect artwork and to document any acts of looting and destroying Ukrainian cultural heritage, according to Ukielski.

He told the PAP news agency that efforts were needed to ”document Russia’s bestiality perpetrated on Ukrainian culture.”

For example, he said, the Russians "not only destroyed but also plundered" a museum in the city of Kherson, which was liberated by Ukrainian forces last month.

The Polish Committee for Ukrainian Museums says it has raised PLN 140,000 (EUR 30,000, USD 32,000) for the purchase of electronic equipment to digitize Ukraine's museum collections.

Support has been offered by leading Polish museums as well as foreign institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the University Museum of Bergen in Norway, the Stiftung für Kunst foundation in Switzerland, and the National Libraries in Estonia and Latvia.

The committee’s partner on the Ukrainian side is the Centre for the Protection of National Heritage in the western city of Lviv, which has evaluated the needs and taken care of distributing the shipments from Poland to institutions across Ukraine, according to officials.