February 21, 2014

Ukrainian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ІСОМ) enters plea for international help in protecting Art and Heritage in Kiev

OPEN LETTER (English version)
Outgoing # 6 from February 20th, 2014, Kyiv

To: General Director of UNESCO
Mrs. Iryna Bokova

President of the International Council of Museums (ІСОМ)
Prof. Hans-Martin Hinz

President of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
Mr. Gustavo Araoz

Chair of ІСОМ Europe
Dr. Damodar Frlan

Head of the National Committee of Ukraine for UNESCO
Mr. Ruslan Demchenko

During December 2013 – February 2014 the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the Ukrainian House, where the depositories of the Museum of Kyiv History are located, were in the epicenter of confrontations in Kyiv.

Collective of the National Art Museum of Ukraine removed works from exposition to depositories; museum employees provide watch and control over museum collections on a twenty-four hour basis.  As for the Museum of Kyiv History, we know that during the stay of the law enforcement officers in the Ukrainian House, depositories and some drawers were opened (http://prostir.museum/ua/post/32017-currently this is the only material that was published.

During the protesters' stay in the Ukrainian House, no incidents were reported by the museum. From 19:00 on February 18th till the morning of February 20th, 2014 the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine controlled the Ukrainian House. At night on February 19th publications and interviews with museum workers were published where it was declared about the heist in the depositories of the Museum of Kyiv History – at midnight, February 19th triggered a burglar alarm, however, security did not respond the call (http://www.artukraine.com.ua/articles/1874.html#.UwUnQfCXknM.facebook). No statements from the officials about the condition of depositories of the Museum of Kyiv History as of February 20th, 2014, 15:00 were published, despite the tense situation, the precedent of infringement of the inviolability of museum collections and another escalation of confrontations.

On the February 19 the Ukrainian Committee of ICOM sent open letter addressed to the Acting Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Mr. V.Zakharchenko, the Acting Minister of Culture Mr. L.Novokhatko, the Head of Kyiv City State Administration Mr. V.Makeenko, and to the Head of Committee of Supreme Council of Ukraine with call to:-ensure maximum safety and inviolability of the Museum's of Kyiv History collections, stored in the Ukrainian House;
  • -immediately provide information about the state of museum collection in the Ukrainian House to the public;
  • -create the interdepartmental commission with the representatives of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, Department of Culture KCSA, museum representatives, Ukrainian National Committee of ІCOM and the Ukrainian Center for Museum Development to monitor the situation and revision of presence of the collection of the Museum of Kyiv History in the Ukrainian House, and involve members of the Commission to investigate the incident with the Museum of Kyiv History, which occurred in the Ukrainian House over the last few months.
In the morning of February 20th, 2014, law enforcement officers, for unknown reasons, left the Ukrainian House. Museum staff with assistance of NGOs and volunteers organized the evacuation of the museum depositories to another building, which belongs to the Museum of Kyiv History (Bohdan Khmelnytsky st. 7).

Due to the aggravation of conflict on 18th-20th of February 2014 with the use of a weapon, museums and sites of cultural heritage are jeopardized in Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine.
Ukraine House after 1/26 standoff between police and protesters

With regard to the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of May 14, 1954 and taking into consideration the complete absence of any official information from the government for nearly three months of confrontations and precedents of violation of the integrity of the State Museum Fund, Ukrainian National Committee of the International Council of Museums ICOM appeals to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), ICOMOS and UNESCO with the call to articulate their opinion about the situation where museums in Ukraine become hostage off confrontation and shall take all possible measures to prevent such situations.

Sincerely,
Board of Ukrainian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ІСОМ) 

(Translated by Bing)

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