Ukrainian Museums Near the Front Line: The Changing Role of Regional Museums in Wartime

Ukrainian Museums Near the Front Line
Ukrainian Museums Near the Front Line

What role do regional museums near the frontlines play, now and afterwards? How do they share narratives of oppression and the destruction of (regional) identity? And how do they create new ones?

Regional Ukrainian museums play an important role in the country. They also face enormous challenges. For example, the Kharkiv region is heavily under attack at the moment. Besides personal tragedies, they suffer great cultural losses from the full-scale invasion by Russia. The challenge is to balance safety for themselves and their families, support staff members joining Ukraine's armed forces, support local communities, protect their important collections, and create new narratives for this changed reality.

The country’s regions are large, and the museums representing local heritage and identity, especially those in war zones, now play an even more important role. Being under constant siege and having their cultural heritage destroyed means it’s crucial for them not just to collect and represent the artefacts and evidence of war, but also to tell new stories. To do so, they must reconsider their role and help reinvent regional identity and multiperspective history. These narratives are vital for the whole Ukrainian cultural and national identity.

Join our event

We have invited five Ukrainian museum directors and curators from prominent regional museums for a week-long international visitors programme to share their stories and exchange experiences with the Dutch cultural field. During our public programme and network event on Thursday 13 June, you are welcome to meet them personally and discuss the questions mentioned above.

Kateryna Chuyeva, independent museum expert and former vice-minister of culture of Ukraine (2021-2023) will hold a keynote speech: How War Transforms Museums and Their Role in Society. Our moderator is Arnoud Odding, researcher and independent museum strategy advisor.


  • 17:00 Introduction by Kirsten van den Hul, director at DutchCulture, and Tijana Stepanovic, Advisor Central and Eastern Europe at DucthCulture
  • 17:05 Introduction by moderator Arnoud Odding, researcher and strategic advisor for museums
  • 17:10 Keynote by Kateryna Chuyeva (independent museum expert and former vice-minister of culture of Ukraine from 2021-2023). How War Transforms Museums and Their Role in Society: Museums of Ukraine preserve national treasures and the country's long cultural history, from the Stone Age to today. Since 2014, and especially after 2022, Ukrainian cultural professionals have faced many challenges, including the loss of loved ones and homes, occupation, destruction, and looting of heritage. In these times, culture provides essential inspiration, mental support, resilience, and motivation. You are invited to reflect on how war transforms museums and their role when a nation's heritage is in danger.
  • 17:35 Q&A
  • 17:40 Presentation by Dr Valeria Lavrenko (deputy director of research at Dnipropetrovsk National Historical Museum, Dnipro). Exhibitions in the Underground, Concerts on Stairs, Humanitarian Hub and "Babas", Saved from the Mortar Shelling.
  • 17:50 Presentation by Kostiantyn Dubin (head of the exhibition department at M. F. Sumtsov Kharkiv Historical Museum, Kharkiv). The Impact of the War on Museum Practices: Kharkiv's situation during the first weeks of the full-scale war, the current state, and the war's impact on museum staff and efforts to protect cultural assets from front-line zones. It will also address the museum's focus on historical memory during wartime.
  • 17:55 Presentation by Yuliia Kravchuk (senior researcher at Vinnytsia Regional Museum of History and Nature, Vinnytsia). Title to be announced.
  • 18:00 Video presentation (English subtitles) by Olga Rubliova (senior researcher at Odesa Regional History Museum, Odesa). Despite All, We Work: about traditions and innovations.
  • 18:05 Panel discussion and Q&A. Panellists: Kateryna Chuyeva, Valeria Lavrenko, Kostiantyn Dubin, Yuliia Kravchuk
  • 18:25 Drinks & network opportunity

    Due to unforeseen circumstances in Ukraine, cancellation of speakers may occur.
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