National Art Museum of Ukraine

Kyiv, Ukraine | C.1899

Photo Credit: Dasha Lukyanova

Within the city of Kiev, Ukraine is an art museum dedicated to Ukrainian artistic talent. The founders of the National Art Museum of Ukraine – originally called the Kiev City Museum of Antiques and Art – were determined to craft a collection of pieces representative of Ukrainian fine art. Works within the museum’s walls range from medieval icons, military portraits and church leaders. The museum also houses caricatures of the famous folklore hero and beloved puppet show character Cossack Mamay.

The museum took over a location that was built for the Kiev City Museum. Constructed in 1898 by architect Wladyslaw Horodecki it was in fact a remake of the talented Moscow architect Petr Boitsov who failed to receive a government license. The original intention for the new building was a museum for the local society of patrons of arts and antique lovers.

The building officially opened just before Christmas in 1904 under the long-winded name of the Kiev Industrial Arts and Science Museum of Emperor Nicholas II. The total cost amounted to 249,000 rubles to construct, along with another 108,000 rubles paid by the Tereshchenko family who also funded the Museum of Western and Oriental Art in Kiev.

The stoic facade of the building conveys a neoclassical architectural form – precise reproduction of a six-column porch of Doric order with entablature, triglyphs, metopes and frieze decoration depicting the Triumph of Arts. Embellishments such as figures of gryphons and large concrete lions at the top of the stairs created by an Italian sculptor, Emilio Sala compliment the neoclassical forms.

Today, the Museum continues to expand its collection. The current collection includes over 20 thousand works. Among the many treasures are pieces by world-renowned constructivist Vasiliy Yermilov, and Cubo-Futurist Alexander Bogomazov. Ukrainian culture is represented by works of famous Ukrainian and Russian artists such as David Burliuk, Aleksandra Ekster, Vadim Meller, keeping to the wishes of the Museum’s founders to create a place that was representative of Ukrainian fine art.

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