The International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (Aliph) has partnered with the J. Paul Getty Trust to help protect Ukrainian cultural sites as violence spikes and winter looms across the region.
The trust has granted $1m to Aliph’s Ukrainian Action Plan initiative, which has so far committed $3m towards the preservation of the embattled nation’s museums, archives and libraries. The funds will also support the heritage professionals overseeing maintenance of these sites. Through Aliph’s efforts and collaboration with specialists on the ground, over 160 Ukrainian collections, including those containing invaluable religious and archaeological artefacts, have been transferred into safe, controlled storage since the start of Russia’s war on 24 February.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has reported damage to 204 Ukrainian sites, including monuments, cultural centres and places of worship. Just last month, Russian bombing of the Ukrainian capital damaged cultural sites including the Khanenko Art Museum and the Kyiv Art Gallery. This widespread devastation has been exacerbated by the confluence of a raging fossil fuel crisis and harsh weather, a combination that makes already vulnerable objects and buildings susceptible to further disrepair. The organisation has also spearheaded efforts to 3D scan important monuments Aliph has identified as endangered. (Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applied for Unesco World Heritage status to be given to the historic centre of Odesa.)
Support from the Getty will help improve museum security and ensure facility upgrades, establishing preventative conservation systems across the country. “The ongoing need to protect cultural heritage in Ukraine has become even more urgent in recent weeks, as attacks in the region are increasing and the onset of winter is creating additional risks,” Valéry Freland, executive director of Aliph, said in a statement. Other Ukrainian Action Plan partners include the European Union and the Principality of Monaco.