On museums in the high Caucasus & Ukraine.
Recent links of note:
“The mountain stronghold that has kept Georgia’s medieval art safe for centuries”
William Dunbar, Apollo
This week in Apollo, William Dunbar explores the dramatic history of the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography and its collection of over five thousand medieval and ancient objects. Located in a remote, mountainous corner of the Caucasus, Svaneti was a “cultural powerhouse with local schools of metalwork, icon painting and frescoes” that flourished between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Many of these artistic treasures survived in the region’s churches, untouched for centuries as Svaneti and its Svan-speaking inhabitants were isolated from the rest of Georgia between the late medieval period and the mid-nineteenth century. In 1970, the Soviet government commissioned the architect Ramaz Kiknadze to design a Brutalist structure imitating traditional Svan architecture to display the region’s artifacts, resulting in a “solid, semi-fortified mass clad in the local travertine” that took thirty years to complete. By 2003, however, the building was already falling apart and had to be demolished. Today, visitors to the region, which is now more accessible to outsiders than ever before, can visit the collection housed in a new building designed by Kiknadze’s son.
“The scramble to shield Ukraine’s cultural heritage”
Max Bearak and Isabelle Khurshudyan, The Independent
Over the last few weeks, museum staff across Ukraine’s cultural centers have been taking down, wrapping, and hiding their art collections in underground bunkers. The walls of the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv, for example, which once contained paintings by the nineteenth-century Russian masters Ivan Aivazovsky and Ilya Repin, are now bare. As Max Bearak and Isabelle Khurshudyan report in this illustrated article for The Independent, volunteers have also been covering immovable civic monuments in sandbags. Of particular concern are stained-glass church windows, which are being covered with shrapnel-proof material. While Odessa has not yet been bombarded by Russian forces, the staff of its 123-year-old Fine Arts Museum have put up barbed wire, among other preparations, in case of attack.
From the podcast:
“Kelly Jane Torrance on the front lines of journalism.” An address to the Young Friends of The New Criterion.
“Florida swans ,” by Paul du Quenoy. On a production of Swan Lake by Miami City Ballet
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