Supporting immediate action to protect Ukraine's irreplaceable treasures from further damage and preparing post-crisis recovery conservation at cultural heritage sites.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, at least 53 historical sites have been identified as severely damaged or destroyed according to UNESCO, including the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum and its collection; the Holy Mountains Lavra, a seventeenth-century monastery in Eastern Ukraine; and the historic center of Chernihiv, which is on the Tentative List for World Heritage status.
With an initial seed grant of $500,000 from Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, World Monuments Fund's (WMF) Ukraine Heritage Response Fund will support Ukrainian heritage professionals and provide supplies necessary to protect Ukrainian heritage places. When safe to do so, physical conservation projects will be necessary to stabilize and rehabilitate many important cultural sites across Ukraine. WMF is preparing now for those future needs by building a strong foundation of financial support that can be deployed for physical conservation work at cultural heritage sites.
Identifying and Addressing Critical Needs
Following meetings with both regional and global partners, including UNESCO, The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH), Smithsonian Institution, and Blue Shield International, among others, World Monuments Fund has identified the following critical needs:
- Short-term: Equipment and Supplies: The most immediate needs for heritage professionals in Ukraine are supplies needed to protect sites from collateral damage.
WMF has just approved the provision of over 400 water-mist fire extinguishers for the protection of historic wooden tserkvas, or churches, in Ukraine, in partnership with the Foundation to Preserve Ukraine's Sacral Arts and the Center to Rescue Ukraine's Cultural Heritage in Lviv. 8 of these churches are included on the UNESCO World Heritage list as part of the transnational property “Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine”. The extinguishers will be distributed in partnership with ICOMOS and the Heritage Emergency Rescue Initiative, accompanied by instructions and advice on their use translated into Ukrainian. Other needs of material and support to Ukrainian cultural heritage professionals are currently under review.
- Medium-term: Documentation and Assessment of Damage: Once conflict subsides, heritage site managers will be faced with the challenge of taking stock of the damage and assessing the most urgent restoration needs.
WMF has created a Ukraine Taskforce within the organization, dedicated to monitoring the situation and coordinating with Ukrainian professionals and various international stakeholders. In support of the taskforce's work, WMF also recruitied a Ukraine Heritage Crisis Specialist, Kateryna Goncharova, to help lead efforts to respond to the impact of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine on the country’s cultural heritage sector.
- Long-term: Restoration and Rehabilitation Projects: While the full extent of damage remains to be seen, we are already aware of dozens of heritage sites that have suffered varying degrees of destruction. We aim to develop projects that support recovery once the conflict subsides.
WMF also continues to participate in UNESCO and other international emergency response coordination meetings mobilizing international partners to ensure the complementarity of all actions taken to address short-, medium-, and long-term needs at heritage sites around Ukraine.
In the News
- At least 53 culturally important sites damaged in Ukraine – Unesco (The Guardian article, published April 1, 2022).
- We Will Fight for Every Brick of Ukraine (The New York Times op-ed, published April 3, 2022).
- 'This is Everyone's Culture': Ukraine's Architectural Treasures Face Destruction (The New York Times article, published March 11, 2022).
- Ukraine News, Jewish Heritage Europe.
Monitoring & Reporting
- Culture Crimes Timeline (in Ukrainian). Ministry of Cultural and Information Policy of Ukraine.
- Ukraine Cultural Foundation Map of Affected Sites (in Ukrainian). Also available here.
- War in Ukraine. UNESCO.
- Harvard University Ukraine Research Institute (HURI)
- Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (SUCHO)
- Official Website of Konstantin Akinsha, art historian, curator, and expert on art expropriated during WWII.
- International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH).
- Building an Emergency Plan A Guide for Museums and Other Cultural Institutions. The Getty Conservation Institute.
- Handbook: Endangered Heritage Emergency Evacuation. UNESCO and ICCROM.
- Handbook: First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis - Handbook. ICCROM.
- Handbook: First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis - Toolkit. ICCROM and Prince Claus Fund.
- Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative. Smithsonian Institute.
- Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict. ICCROM.
- Committee for the Aid to Museums of Ukraine. Seeking logistics partners and sponsors.
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