Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, sector colleagues and organisations across the world mobilised to practically help their colleagues in Ukraine. Very often the support for Ukrainian museums and staff has been coordinated collaboratively with support of ICOM National Committees. The UK response began with the UA-UK Cultural Heritage Initiative asking ICON (The Institute of Conservation) to set up a series of Basecamp teams to co-ordinate support efforts. Due to security restrictions, the logistics and specific details of the support provided needs to be kept confidential.
With the logistical and financial support of ALIPH (International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas), ICOM UK with museums, galleries, libraries, universities and sector support organisations across the UK collaborated with Constantine Ltd. to organise a shipment of wooden crates and packing, conservation materials, and collections (movable and immovable) documentation equipment. With limited storage options in Ukraine, the wooden crates, packing materials and conservation supplies will help Ukrainian colleagues protect their collections and cultural heritage under difficult circumstances. The documentation equipment will help Ukrainian colleagues to create inventories and record the presence and condition of their cultural assets.
The shipment from the UK arrived in Lviv, Ukraine on 23 July where the crates and materials were unloaded for onward distribution within Ukraine.
“We are very grateful for all your support and we are sure that, also due to your help, our masterpieces, monuments, museums etc. are safer than they were at the beginning of the war.” – Viktor Sobiianskyi, a Ukrainian culture manager
“We express our sincere gratitude to our British partners for their concern and support, as well as to the ALIPH Foundation and Штаб порятунку спадщини / Heritage Emergency Response Initiative for assisting in the delivery of the shipment.” – National Preserve ‘Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra’, Ukraine
About the organisations involved:
The International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) is the principal global fund exclusively dedicated to the protection of heritage in conflict zones and post-conflict situations. It was created in response to the massive destruction of cultural heritage that began to escalate in recent years as a result of terrorism and war in the Middle East and the Sahel region.
ALIPH selects, finances, and steers protection or rehabilitation projects of monuments, sites, museums, collections of artifacts or manuscripts, places of worship, and intangible heritage. These are led and implemented by the Foundation’s partners, including NGOs and cultural institutions. The ALIPH way can be summed up in three words: action, agility, and the field. To date, ALIPH has committed USD 50 million to support 160 projects in 30 countries on 4 continents. The organization is run with the mindset of a startup, making it an agile instrument, ready to respond quickly during crises. Its reactivity was demonstrated most recently in Ukraine: since early March, it has financed more than 120 projects to protect museums, libraries, and archives. ALIPH’s priority is to support concrete projects and to work closely with local authorities, communities, and actors.
A public-private partnership, ALIPH has counted seven member States since its founding – China, France, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Morocco, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – and three private donors – Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan, the Fondation Gandur pour l’art, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation – and Switzerland, its host country. Since then, other foundations and countries have made commitments to ALIPH, including Monaco, Oman, and Romania. Recently, the European Union supported ALIPH’s work in Ukraine.
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ICOM UK (International Council of Museums UK)
ICOM UK is the national branch of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in the UK. It is a gateway to the global museum community and the only UK museum association with a dedicated international focus. Members are part of a professional global network of more than 44,000 museum professionals in over 138 countries via 118 national and 32 subject specialist committees. ICOM UK promotes intangible heritage and the preservation of material heritage. It supports the development of best-practice standards and, through its global reach and events programme, contributes to the international agenda of museums in the UK.
ICON (The Institute of Conservation)
Since 2014 we have been working tirelessly on the strengthening of cultural relations between the UK and Ukraine. Our aim is to promote the cultural wealth of both countries, to establish and to deepen the links between cultural heritage institutions and professionals, to facilitate dialogue and exchange of knowledge, and to boost training in cultural heritage conservation. This process has seen steady progressing, with Ukraine striving to be a fully-fledged part of Europe since its post-USSR independence – but also probably since the Kievan Rus times. We have been successful at establishing a first networking platform for UK and Ukrainian conservators, which was made possible with competitive grant awards from the British Council and the endorsement of the British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers committee. The core team are: Donatella Banti, Katya Belaia-Selzer and Valeriia Kravchenko. We are partners with the British Ukrainian Society, Institute of Conservation in the UK and Blue Shield International, working closely with international heritage organisations such as IIC, AIC and ALIPH Foundation.