Immediately following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Smithsonian Institution (SI) publicly affirmed its support for the Ukrainian people, their freedom and democracy, and their cultural heritage, all of which were explicitly threatened by targeted Russian military action. In the same spirit as Smithsonian’s Strategic Plan, Our Shared Future, the Smithsonian’s 14th Secretary, Lonnie Bunch, reminded audiences: “When we lose irreplaceable history and culture, it is a profound loss to us all. If we instead work together to celebrate, share, and protect cultural heritage, we are ensuring the triumph of our humanity.”
Quickly, the Smithsonian began that work to “celebrate, share and protect” Ukraine’s heritage in myriad ways. The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) rapidly activated its network of cultural rescue experts and supported the coordination of urgent supply deliveries to museums on the ground. The Office of International Relations (OIR) organized the hosting of displaced Ukrainian Fulbright scholars in the US to complete their practical training as interns and fellows at SI units. Curators, collections managers, and educators across SI shared objects and stories that highlight the rich mosaic of Ukrainian cultural identity and history. With these efforts, may audiences feel some hope as we look to the future.
These efforts are ongoing, and this Ukraine Hub provides a platform to bring together resources, stories, and collections to highlight the Smithsonian’s commitment to supporting the Ukrainian people in their efforts to sustain and share their rich culture heritage and history. Please visit this Hub regularly, as it will evolve along with our partnerships and programs. The Smithsonian remains dedicated to continuing its efforts to provide partnership, support, and hope to the people of Ukraine.