The study of history is closely connected to the work of museums. The historical artifacts exhibited in the museums represent the vivid examples of life in the past centuries.
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There are plenty of the historic and cultural museums in the New York City, some of them are devoted to the history of mankind as a whole, and the other ones are dedicated to the history of certain cultural group or ethnicity. Such kind of highly tailored museums provides us with the opportunity to get an insight into the way of life and traditions of a particular nationality.
Last week my friends and I visited the Ukrainian museum in New York City. The decision to go there was based on advice given by my Ukrainian comrade. The one hour and a half spent in the museum allowed us to know more about Ukraine and its people. There were several ongoing exhibitions at the time of our visit.
However, we decided to go to Contemporary Decorative and Applied Art as it allowed us to get acquainted with the historic past of Ukrainians from their art traditions. It should be emphasized that art artifacts can help in getting the vision of the people way of life as they embody the feeling and moods of people. Also, we talked with the exhibitor for a while, asking him to tell us briefly about the major events in Ukrainian history. Thanks to his narration, we became more familiarized with a hard way of Ukrainians to independence.
Satzewich (2002) emphasizes that “the cultivation of a sense of victimization may be one avenue by which the Ukrainian Diaspora maintains its identities and group boundaries; it may also be one way to draw new generations of Diaspora Ukrainians into the ethnic fold” (p. 7).
Before starting the description of the objects seen in the museum, I would like to give you a brief introduction to Ukraine. Nowadays, Ukraine is an independent state in Eastern Europe bordering Russia in the East and Poland in the West. The country also has a prolonged sea line.
The scholars argue that the long period of foreign empires dominance in the country made a significant impact on the way of life of Ukrainians and traditions. The bloody war conflicts were the frequent phenomena in Ukrainian history as the country represented the geopolitical interest for major European empires. Namier (1942) stresses that “European interests and entanglements have defeated the extra-European expansion of the Continental nations” (p.1). Moreover, the search for national identity had been the corner stone in Ukrainian history for a long time (Smith, Law, Wilson, Bohr & Allworth, 1998).
The artifacts of the Ukrainian decorative art presented in the museum indicated the influence of other cultures and reflected the traditions of Russian, Polish, and Turkish masters. The conflicts that emerged during the Ukrainian history were sharpened by the economic insecurity and political instability (History interpretation, par. 2).
While being in the exhibition, we saw the various objects of the Ukrainian traditional art such as pysanka which is the symbolic Easter colored egg. Besides, we saw the traditional male and female clothes decorated with ornament. The ornament technique varied from one region to another and reflected the natural peculiarities and cultural influence of other ethnicities.
In conclusion, it should be said that war and political conflicts had been an integral part of Ukrainian history. The artifacts presented in the Ukrainian Museum and the talk with the exhibitor helped us to know more about the nation. Overall, I should say that the Ukrainian museum is worthy of visiting.
History interpretation as a cause of conflicts in Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/pages/thema01.htm
Namier, L. B. (1942). Conflicts: studies in contemporaryhHistory. London, the United Kingdom: Mcmillan & Co. Ltd.
Satzewich, V. (2002). Ukrainian Diaspora. New York, USA: Routledge.
Smith, G., Law, V., Wilson, A., Bohr, A., Allworth, E.(1998). National history and national identity in Ukraine and Belarus. Cambridge, the United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press