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“Museum burned down in minutes”: how Primachenko’s paintings were saved from the fire during the occupation

The town of Ivankiv in the Kyiv region has been under Russian occupation for more than a month.

In the first days of the Russian offensive, the local history and local lore museum, which housed the works of Ukrainian artist Maria Primachenko, burned down.

Later, information appeared on social networks that some of the artist’s works were saved.

However, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy asked not to disseminate the information of the surviving works, so as not to endanger the residents of the town who keep them.

The head of the local culture department, Nadiya Biryuk, told Ukrayinska Pravda. Zhyttya that only part of the local history museum’s property had been saved after the shell hit the building.

“In 2018, major repairs were made, the exhibits were renewed, and people began to help.

I do not feel sorry for the repairs as the exhibits. Many of them burned down, leaving about 10. But we managed to save the most valuable things, “she said.
Ivankiv Museum in the summer of 2021. Photo by UP.Zhyttya

According to Ms. Nadezhda, the museum was damaged during the cross-fighting at the entrance to the town, and the occupiers were already driving through the streets.

The exhibits were already being rescued from the burning building, because the residents of Ivankiv were in shelters during the fire.

“When it happened, all the residents were already sitting in the cellars, there was no connection between us. Everything was flying, shooting and banging here.

The guards were also sitting in the cellar, and when it calmed down a bit and they came out, the roof was already on fire, “Nadiya Biryuk recalls.

The museum building was wooden, so the fire spread very quickly.

“Because the wind was strong, the roof quickly began to burn. Within minutes, the museum was gone.

Literally half an hour is the maximum. And it all burned to the ground, “adds Natalia Kharitonova, deputy director of the Center for Children and Youth Creativity, in a commentary on the Ukraïner project.

Read also: The Russians stole Scythian gold – Office of the Attorney General

The women claim that before the occupation, Maria Primachenko’s paintings were hidden in a museum in one place.

The exhibits were saved by museum guards and several locals.

Through the broken windows, they began to take out the exhibits that were accessible.

“It simply came to our notice then that we had enough time to endure something.

It was no longer possible to put out the fire, but we understood that we would be able to save some of it, “recalls children’s coach Ihor Nikolayenko.

According to him, the exhibits were saved from the side of the museum where the flames have not yet reached.

The men had about 20 minutes, then began to bend the ceiling, damaged by fire.

The museum was on fire, shots were still heard, but none of the rescuers of the museum valuables were injured.

They managed to save paintings and some decorative tools.

Nadiya Biryuk says that the saved paintings have survived and do not need to be restored.

After the rescue, the museum exhibits were hidden in another place, which was kept secret.

“Four people knew where these paintings were. And thank God the Russians didn’t find them.

They purposefully didn’t look for them, apparently, didn’t understand art, took away laptops, fans “, – Nadezhda notes.

The local lore museum in the town is planned to be rebuilt, the initiative is supported by Maria Prymachenko’s great-grandson Anastasia.

“We try to give permits for exhibitions in different countries.

There they paint murals, children redraw the works that were saved.

If there are any donations, we will certainly give them for reconstruction, “she added.

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