War is both a psychological and physical tragedy. In addition to taking the lives of its citizens, Vladimir Putin has denied Ukraine the right to exist as an independent nation. While residents shelter in basements and bunkers, their hearts are further attacked by the destruction of their history and cultural sites, and the treasures they contain. One of the first instances recalled the horrors of the past. A bomb that damaged Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, Europe's largest memorial and mass grave for victims of the Holocaust. According to the centre’s website, Nazi forces killed between 70,000 and 100,000 people at Babyn Yar between 1941 and 1943, including almost the entire Jewish population of Kyiv.
The Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum, located northwest of the capital city Kyiv was burnt to the ground, along with 25 works by revered folk artist Maria Prymachenko. Even if not directly targeted Ukraine has seven world heritage sites, monuments, and history and heritage locations are at risk as a result of their proximity to population and infrastructure centers.
James Cuno, the president and chief executive officer of the J. Paul Getty Trust, was quoted in The Guardian as saying, “The material cultural heritage of the world is our common heritage, the identity and inspiration for all humanity. Cultural heritage has the power to unite us and is critical for achieving peace. It is also too often the target of war, another way to destroy and overtake a society by erasing its memory.”
The art world is responding with the cancellation of concerts, fundraising in a variety of ways to support organizations like the Ukrainian Red Cross. In Russia, the directors of museums and venues are stepping down from their positions including the Cosmoscow art fair and VAC Foundation. You can learn more about the war and its impact on Ukrainians and the ways artists and the sector are demonstrating solidarity in the collection of articles below.
In happier news, the 19th CityLit Festival is underway. This Saturday will be jam packed with amazing events. GBCA is a proud sponsor of The 1619 Project: Hard Truths with creator and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones in conversation with Martha S. Jones. This is the only event for which you must register (here) if you plan to attend in-person.
In solidarity with the Ukrainians,