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Ukraine's Cultural Heritage Under Threat

EMILY SCHUTZ, HOST: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has taken a horrifying human toll – the United Nations report at least 700 civilian deaths and over a million displaced to neighboring countries. But there's another potential casualty – Ukraine's cultural heritage. Two days ago, the Ivankiv Museum near Kyiv was destroyed in an air raid. It housed works by renowned Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenko. According to the country's Foreign Ministry, 25 of her works were lost.

SCHUTZ: Maria Shust has directed the Ukrainian Museum in the East Village for 45 years. My co-host David Marques asked her how Ukrainians are working to save their cultural treasures.

MARIA SHUST: I've been in touch with one of our curators who we've done a number of exhibits with him… from Ukraine. I understand that the museums are trying to somehow safeguard their collections by hiding them and putting them into safe places. Hopefully, they will survive. I’m not sure, looking at everything that's going on , and all the bombings that's taking place now in Ukrainian that they can survive this onslaught.

DAVID MARQUES, BYLINE: At your museum in New York – do you have any current exhibits about the invasion going on, or do you have any plans for the future?

SHUST: We’re planning to do… we’re working on an exhibit that we wanted to kind of call attention to what’s going on here. But, you know, we’ve been so inundated now with people wanting to come and talk, it’s hard to get the work done. But we are working on an exhibit right now.

MARQUES: And do you know what other museums or cultural institutions are doing, if they’re doing something anything similar?

SHUST: Many institutions are now really very much involved with what’s going on in Ukraine, with organizing rallies, mak[ing] lists of how people can help, who they can… how they can donate. People are trying to kind of scramble and try to do what everybody can.

MARQUES: And so what should other countries be doing to help Ukrainians in Ukraine prevent the loss of artwork and cultural heritage?

SHUST: You know, at this point, I think the best that they can do is to try to somehow stop this onslaught. We appreciate everything that’s been done throughout the world. People are calling attention, holding rallies, all these other efforts that are being done. But Ukraine needs help – military help with weapons that would preventing the bombing. As much as people can to influence the government and to put the pressure on Russia as much as possible, and, as I said, we really appreciate all the help that Ukraine has been getting. But they need to continue with this assistance.


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