Ukraine war exhibition

People visit the exhibition on the ongoing war at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, in Kyiv on 4 June 2022. Ukrainians flock to the capital to observe helmets, food rations and missiles left behind by the Russian army following its military redeployment and displayed in an exhibition created in real time. Named ‘Ukraine – Crucifixion’, this initiative of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War brings together authentic objects, collected between 4 April and 5 May in particular in the ‘liberated’ region of northern Kyiv. Image: Genya Savilov / AFP

‘Ukraine – Crucifixion: The war already gets its own museum show in Kyiv

A new exhibition in Kyiv is displaying artefacts recovered from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The show offers a closer look at the conflict.

Ukraine war exhibition

People visit the exhibition on the ongoing war at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, in Kyiv on 4 June 2022. Ukrainians flock to the capital to observe helmets, food rations and missiles left behind by the Russian army following its military redeployment and displayed in an exhibition created in real time. Named ‘Ukraine – Crucifixion’, this initiative of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War brings together authentic objects, collected between 4 April and 5 May in particular in the ‘liberated’ region of northern Kyiv. Image: Genya Savilov / AFP

The dust has hardly settled. Not long ago Russian troops were bearing down on Ukraine’s capital – now the story of this chapter of the invasion is already being told in a museum.

Even as the war rages elsewhere in the country, Ukrainians are flocking to a new exhibition in Kyiv displaying artefacts recovered after the Russian army was forced to withdraw from areas it occupied around the capital.

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ARTEFACTS FROM RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE

Missiles, food rations, helmets and other objects abandoned in the region north of Kyiv are being shown in an exhibition at a World War II museum – known as the Great Patriotic War in Ukraine.

Glass cases display personal notes and the credit cards of Russian soldiers killed on the front line in a vital early record of the bloodshed.

Their passports reveal how young they were. A smashed Siberian licence plate proves some came from far away.

There are also jars of halal borscht soup supplied to Muslim Chechen fighters enlisted by their leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a fierce Vladimir Putin loyalist.

AN INTIMATE LOOK AT THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE

Curator Yuriy Savchuk said he wanted “to respond to Russian propaganda”, adding that Moscow has set up its own show “on the so-called fascism that should be fought in Ukraine.

“You can see and touch the war with your fingertips here,” he added.

“That’s also the point: to shock people into realising what’s going on.”

Yuriy Savchuk

It might seem strange that Ukrainians should want a reminder of a war they are still living through. But not everyone in Ukraine witnessed the fighting first-hand – and many want to understand what took place.

“It’s actually really hard to look at this,” said 26-year-old visitor Zoya Didok.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t live in one of those villages when the Russians were there.”

Zoya Didok
People visit the exhibition on the ongoing war ‘Ukraine – Crucifixion’ in the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, in Kyiv on 4 June 2022. Ukrainians flock to the capital to observe helmets, food rations and missiles left behind by the Russian army following its military redeployment and displayed in an exhibition created in real-time. Image: Genya Savilov / AFP

UKRAINE’S MOST CHILLING WAR STORIES ON DISPLAY

In the museum’s cellars, there’s a reconstruction of a makeshift shelter from the town of Hostomel, close to Kyiv’s airport.

The original housed dozens of people for 37 days – among them children and a six-month-old baby. Two people died in the humid, unsanitary conditions.

On a screen on the wall, the baby’s mother gives chilling video testimony.

On the first floor, a church gate ripped open by shrapnel opens to reveal a room displaying artwork inspired by the conflict.

Ukrainian artists have also reused material from Russia’s invasion to express their pain.

Burnt-out candles beneath a war-torn painting of Christ pay tribute to the dead, as well as to Ukraine’s damaged religious heritage.

A grenade hidden under a toy in a sandpit recalls that the childhoods millions of young Ukrainians have lost.

UKRAINE WAR ARTEFACTS WERE COLLECTED IN THE SPACE OF A MONTH

There is also a broken World War II memorial from Hostomel, drawing a powerful parallel between the two conflicts.

Today’s invaders are the descendants of yesterday’s heroes.

The exhibition, titled Ukraine – Crucifixion, is housed in the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War.

The artefacts were collected between 4 April and 5 May – and the show’s rapid opening on 8 May came with help from the Ukrainian army and government.

People visit the exhibition on the ongoing war at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, in Kyiv on 4 June 2022. Ukrainians flock to the capital to observe helmets, food rations and missiles left behind by the Russian army following its military redeployment and displayed in an exhibition created in real time. Named ‘Ukraine – Crucifixion’, this initiative of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War brings together authentic objects, collected between 4 April and 5 May, in particular in the ‘liberated’ region of northern Kyiv. Image: Genya Savilov / AFP

© Agence France-Presse/Blaise Gauquelin