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What To Expect When You Visit The Ukrainian National Museum In Chicago

What To Expect When You Visit The Ukrainian National Museum In Chicago

The Ukrainian National Museum is located in the historic neighborhood of Ukrainian Village in Chicago. Visitors can learn about Ukrainian art, music, paintings, and traditional costumes, among others. One can also learn about the history of the currently hip and eclectic neighborhood of Ukrainian Village, take part in Easter egg decoration workshops, and celebrate Vyshyvanka Day (a day intended to unite all Ukrainians around the world by wearing Vyshyvankas, which are Ukrainian traditional embroidered shirts).

Ukrainian National Museum history

The Ukrainian National Museum dates back to 1952, founded by three displaced scholars from Ukraine, by the names of Olexa Hankewych, Julian Kamenetcky, and Orest Horodyskyj. They were generously helped by Dr. Myroslav Simynovycz, a philanthropist and an activist involved in the community.

The museum aimed to bring to light the story of the people who were forced to leave their home country under tough circumstances. Their love and sense of belonging for Ukraine never diminished, and they formed Ukrainian cultural organizations wherever they ended up in the world. This museum is considered to be one of the crowning cultural achievements of the Ukrainian community in the United States.

What’s on display at the Ukrainian National Museum

The museum houses a diverse collection of traditional Ukrainian artwork like costumes, embroidery, weavings, and others. It also gives you a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Ukranian immigrants by showcasing household utensils, musical instruments, and souvenir items from the former Soviet Union.

The collection includes over a thousand items, and there’s a library that has over sixteen thousand books, including rare and autographed editions. Along with books, the library has a full newspaper and periodicals section. The archives section has material on the Chicago Ukrainian community, including performance art groups, youth organizations, church archives, and various other topics.

Visitors can also learn about the Pysanky, or a decorated Easter egg, a mainstay in Ukrainian folk art. The painted eggs generally share a theme that includes the sun, a rose, and many patterns of stars.

The exhibit named “Ukrainian Genocide -Holodomor of 1932-1933” highlights pictures, documents, and media articles to educate the public about the forced famine in Ukraine.

The museum has exhibits that explain the four different migration waves that brought the vast majority of Ukrainian immigrants to America, starting from the late 1800s and continuing all the way to the 1980s. There are tour guides available (depending on how crowded it is) that are more than willing to accompany visitors, explain the different exhibits, and answer any questions.

Final thoughts

Ukrainian Village is the home to the Ukrainian community in Chicago, and consequently, it is the center of most of their community and cultural activities. There are other institutions like the St. Nicholas Cathedral in the area that have played a role in shaping the community in what it is today. The Ukranian National Museum is an excellent place to visit to gain an overall understanding of the history about the Ukrainian Americans, what caused them to come to the United States, and how they’ve lived through the years.

The museum is open Thursday–Sunday, 11–4 p.m. (2249 W. Superior Street).

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