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Almost half a million museum exhibits evacuated due to war in Ukraine

Thursday, 4 July 2024, 16:58
Almost half a million museum exhibits evacuated due to war in Ukraine
The painting Pisnia (Song) by Tetiana Staroselska was taken by the Russian forces from Kherson during their retreat. Photo: Kherson Art Museum

Since the start of the war in 2014, 453,541 museum exhibits have been evacuated from Ukrainian museums, and another 35,000 are officially missing.

Source: Interfax-Ukraine, citing Anastasiia Bondar, Deputy Minister of Culture for Digitalisation.

Quote: "We currently have almost 35,000 museum exhibits officially listed as missing. But you need to understand that investigative actions and the evidence base take some time, so these numbers will continue to catch up," the official said.


Bondar said that as of 2014, there were 12 million museum exhibits in Ukraine that were part of the state fund. Of these, 1.7 million are now located in the temporarily occupied territories – 90 museums and museum repositories remain there.

Read also: Law enforcement identifies Russian colonel who ordered destruction of Ukrainian philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda museum

How Russians rob Ukrainian museums


After Russian troops enter or leave temporarily occupied territories, they often take works of art displayed in museums with them.

For example, the Kherson Museum of Art constantly identifies stolen paintings and sculptures from photographs or news stories. At the end of June, the staff identified the 113th work, Winter Landscape with Three, by Russian artist Vasily Ekgorst.

When leaving Kherson, the Russian stole works by Tetiana Yablonska, Mykhailo Shaposhnykov, Kostiantyn Trutovskyi and many others.

In February 2024, a painting by Ivan Aivazovskyi Moonlit Night was put up for auction in Russia. In 2014, it was illegally transferred to the Simferopol Art Museum among more than 50 paintings at the beginning of the Russian occupation of Crimea.

In 2017, at the request of the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office, Interpol put 52 paintings transferred to occupied Crimea on the international wanted list.

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