The Kosciuszko Foundation and Smithsonian Institution Partner to Rescue the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage
After establishing the partnership, the Kosciuszko Foundation delivered equipment to Andriy Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv.
LVIV, UKRAINE/ NEW YORK, NY/ WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 27, 2023 – The Smithsonian Institution and the Kosciuszko Foundation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to protect and preserve the Ukrainian heritage affected by the unprovoked and unjustified Russian invasion.
Both the Smithsonian and the Kosciuszko Foundation prioritize protecting people in the event of armed conflict or following a natural or human-made disaster. They believe that protecting people’s cultural heritage is indivisibly intertwined with, and indivisible from, the protection of people. The parties have a common purpose and interest in preserving cultural heritage as a manifestation of human diversity and commonality.
As part of their cooperation, the organizations completed the first joint initiative. On February 20, 2023, the Kosciuszko Foundation delivered nine dehumidifiers, air cleaners, and six building dryers with accessories to the Andriy Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv. The equipment funded by the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative is intended to properly store the wooden sculptures, archives, and paintings removed from the museum’s permanent exhibition as a result of the Russian invasion. Next, the artworks were swiftly transferred into a shelter and stored in unfavorable conditions lacking climate and moisture control.
Transportation of equipment from Poland to Ukraine was provided by the Polish Foundation Folkowisko.
“We are glad that at the Kosciuszko Foundation, we can be an extension of the Smithsonian Institution and help. The Sheptytsky National Museum is the first. There are about 30 other institutions on our joint list. We will try to help them all,” said Marek Skulimowski, the President and Executive Director of the Kosciuszko Foundation, in a press conference held on Monday, February 27, 2023, at the Museum.
“As a Polish American, a descendant of those who once lived in present Ukraine, I am well aware of the destruction of Polish and Ukrainian heritage in the 20th century. It has happened again, and Ukraine’s rich culture is in danger, so our utmost responsibility is to protect and preserve it. In many instances, Polish, Jewish, and Ukrainian heritage coexist, overlap, and complement each other,” said Skulimowski.
“Protecting cultural heritage, which includes artifacts, works of art, historical sites, and traditions, is essential to maintaining a community’s sense of identity. At the same time, it is a matter of respecting human rights and dignity. When we lose our unique history and culture, it is a profound loss to our common future,” said Cori Wegener, Director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative.
“The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) is proud to work with a partner like the Kosciuszko Foundation. We continue to support our Ukrainian colleagues in museums and cultural institutions as they fight to protect their heritage, history, and identity, which were in danger of being destroyed by Russian aggression,” added Cori Wegener.
About the Kosciuszko Foundation
The Kosciuszko Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1925 with headquarters in New York City, offices in Washington, DC, and Warsaw, Poland. The organization is dedicated to promoting educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Poland and increasing American understanding of Polish culture and history. Given the extraordinary circumstances, the Foundation has recently extended its mission and has also committed to supporting Ukrainian refugees in Poland and Ukraine. President Marek Skulimowski was helping Ukrainian women and children at the border when the invasion unfolded.
About the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative
Founded (2010) after the earthquake in Haiti, the mission of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative is to work with communities affected by natural disasters to help protect their heritage and preserve their identity and history. Working with local stakeholders, the initiative responds to disaster reports, offers training, conducts research to avoid threats to culture, engages in outreach, and publicizes its activities on the ground. At the same time, the mission of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) is to protect the cultural heritage that is under threat of destruction, to preserve the cultural identity and history of peoples who have found themselves in armed conflicts and natural or humanitarian disasters.
About the Smithsonian Institution
Since its founding (1846), the Smithsonian Institution has sought to inspire generations with knowledge and discovery. It is the world’s largest museum, educational and research complex, consisting of 21 museums, educational centers, the National Zoological Park, research institutions, cultural centers, and libraries. The collections of the Smithsonian Institute represent a huge diversity of the natural and cultural world. The Smithsonian Institution has extensive experience in supporting scientists and cultural figures around the world. The learning function of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) is to compile, synthesize, and communicate this experience. Currently, SCRI cooperates with other organizations that conduct research in the field of cultural heritage preservation by organizing technical training seminars and carrying out expertise on subject matters.
President and Executive Director, The Kosciuszko Foundation