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Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine

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Title: Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Museums in Kiev, Kiev Archive Museum of Transitional Period, Savka House, Holodomor, National Museum of the History of Ukraine
Collection: 2008 Establishments in Ukraine, Holodomor, Museums Established in 2008, Museums in Kiev
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine

Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine
Established 2008
Location 3 Lavrska St., Kiev, Ukraine
Type Hall of Memory
Visitors 470,000 (2012).[1]
Public transit access Arsenalna (Kiev Metro)

The Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine (Ukrainian: Національний музей «Меморіал пам'яті жертв голодоморів в Україні») is Ukraine’s national museum and a world-class centre devoted to the famines that ravaged Ukraine at the beginning of the 20th century. The museum was founded to commemorate the victims of three famines in Ukraine – the Holodomor of 1932-1933 and the lesser-known famines of 1921-1922 and 1946-1947. The museum was opened on the day of the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor in 2008 and gained the status of a national museum in 2010. The museum is located on the Pechersk Hills on the right bank of the Dnieper river in Kiev, adjacent to the Kiev Pechersk Lavra.


  • History 1
  • Architecture and symbolism 2
  • Location and access 3
  • Educational and research activities 4
  • Memorial on-line 5
  • International collaboration 6
  • Gallery 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9


On November 28, 2006, the Parliament of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada) voted to recognize the Holodomor, a devastating famine which took place in the early 1930s in the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, as a deliberate act of genocide against the Ukrainian people.[2] The bill was signed into law by President Viktor Yushchenko and included a provision for commemorative and research activities, and the construction of memorials to honour the victims and preserve the memory of the Holodomor tragedy for future generations.

The Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine was erected on the slopes of the Dnieper river in 2008, welcoming its first visitors on November 22, 2008.[3] The ceremony of the memorial’s opening was dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor.

On July 8, 2009, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine signed a decree that established a state museum “The Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims in Ukraine”. The museum subsequently acquired the status of a national museum on February 18, 2010.[4]

Starting from February 2010, the museum has been included in the official program for visits to Ukraine by Heads of States and foreign delegations and officials.[5]

The current and former presidents of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, Viktor Yushchenko, Leonid Kuchma and Leonid Kravchuk, attended a ceremony on the Day of Commemoration of Famine’s Victims at the museum in November 2012.[6]

Architecture and symbolism

Statue known as the Bitter Memory of Childhood

The museum consists of the memorial complex and the underground Hall of Memory that houses permanent exhibitions and artefacts from the famines’ periods. The memorial complex was conceptualized and designed by the Ukrainian folk artist Anatoliy Haydamaka and architect Yuriy Kovalyov.[3] The symbolism of the famines’ events and human sufferings is amply portrayed on the museums’ grounds and in its architecture.

The entrance of the alley to the memorial complex is framed by two statues of angels, referred to as the Angels of Sorrow. The angels represent the guardians of the souls of the starved. In the centre of the alley, 24 millstones (the Millstones of Destiny) are set in a circle and carry a dual meaning. On the one hand, they symbolize the source of food and life. On the other hand, they represent a 24-hour clock, reminding that up to 24,000 human lives were ground to death daily during the Holodomor. A haunting statue of a young girl clutching a handful of wheat stands is in the middle of the alley. This statue, named the Bitter Memory of Childhood, is dedicated to the most vulnerable victims of starvation – children. Picking up wheat left on the collective farm fields after reaping was considered a crime and was punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment or even death. The paving leading to the centre of the memorial and the Hall of Memory symbolizes the Ukrainian highly fertile black soils. The central part of the memorial is a white, 30-meter high candle-shaped monument, known as the Candle of Memory. The monument is decorated with glass crosses of different sizes arranged in a Ukrainian folk embroidery pattern. The crosses symbolize the souls of the famines’ victims, young and old. The bronze figures of storks soaring from the base of the monument represent the rebirth of the Ukrainian nation.

Entrance to the Hall of Memory

Below ground is a well-conceived Hall of Memory. In the Hall, visitors have an opportunity to commemorate the famines’ victims by lighting a candle and by ringing a bell. A 20-minute educational film about the Ukrainian famines is projected on the walls of the Hall. A collection of artefacts dating back to the famines is displayed. These include period farm equipment, agricultural tools and household items. Visitors also have an opportunity to browse the volumes of the National Memory Book of Famine’s Victims of 1932- 1933 and provide information about their relatives who died of starvation in Ukraine.

The Hall of Memory leads visitors to the Black Board Alley. The symbolic black boards document the names of Ukrainian towns and villages which had suffered during the dark years of the famines. The names of 14 thousand villages and towns of Ukraine are engraved on the boards, which have become one of the most striking symbols of the Holodomor.

Location and access

The museum is situated on the Pechersk Hills, one of Kiev’s most picturesque and ancient places on the high bank of the Dnieper, near the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. The museum is easily accessible by public transport, the closest metro station is Arsenalna Station.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 until 18:00 and is closed on Mondays.[7] General admission fee to the underground section of the museum (the Hall of Memory) is 5 hryvnas for adults, 2 hryvnas for children. Free admission: Tuesdays.

Guided tours are offered hourly from 10:00 to 17:00 and are available in Ukrainian (50 hryvnas per group), English, German, Russian and French (100 hryvnas per group).

In 2012, the museum received more than 470,000 visitors, offered 2,160 guided tours and hosted 8 official delegations.[1]

Educational and research activities

The museum's goal is to collect, study, preserve and disseminate materials and knowledge that illuminate the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, to remember the scale of the tragedy of the Ukrainian famines, and to learn from these events so that they never occur again.

The museum currently offers educational programs and exhibitions. It plans to expand its educational efforts to include outreach programs for schools, post-secondary establishments and public libraries, as well as to offer teachers training sessions and seminars on the history of the Holodomor.[4]

The museum is working on creating a database of the Ukrainian famines’ survivors and victims, which will be made accessible to the Ukrainians and the international community.[4]

Memorial on-line

In 2012, the museum, in partnership with the International Renaissance Foundation and the Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine charity, launched an Internet project to provide open and free access to collections of digitized materials on the Ukrainian famines.[8] The project provides centralized access to archival collections of documents, periodicals, photographs, videos, and survivor and witness testimonies on all three famines in Ukraine.

International collaboration

The museum aims to expand its activities to become a global centre for research on famine, victimization and human rights.

In July 2012, the museum signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights to share knowledge, best practices and research resources related to the Holodomor.[9] Both organizations committed to working together to educate the international community on human rights issues, with a particular focus on the relevance of the human rights lessons of the Holodomor.


Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine
The panoramic review of the Museum complex 
The Angel of Sorrow 
The Hall of Memory and to the Black Board Alley 
The Candle of Memory 

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b c ibid.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

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