T h e U k r a i n i a n M u s e u m
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The Ukrainian Museum and the Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund are commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster with the exhibition Inside Chornobyl.
To the world, Chornobyl seems a place of danger, but for locals, Chornobyl is simply a fact of life. On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine ‒ just 60 miles from the ancient capital city, Kyiv ‒ changed history, sending radiation and political shockwaves across Europe. Radioactive fallout contaminated 56,700 square miles of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, an area the size of New York State.
In the popular imagination, the Chornobyl region is a wasteland ‒ forsaken, hazardous, and inaccessible. And yet, a generation later, life continues in the radiation-affected areas. Six million people still reside there.
The contaminated region is divided into four zones based on levels of radiation. The Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, the most highly contaminated, is officially uninhabited. In fact, however, over 2,000 elderly villagers illegally resettled their homes and farms inside the Zone. Today nearly 400 remain. More than 3,000 workers manage the Zone, living in the town of Chornobyl during four-day and 15-day shifts. Another 3,800 employees commute daily to work at the Chornobyl plant from their new homes in Slavutych.
After the accident, 188 nearby towns and villages were evacuated. Many were bulldozed. Some were simply abandoned. Beyond the Exclusion Zone are three additional zones where radiation fell but evacuation was not mandatory. In Ukraine, this included 2,293 villages. The accident and its indirect consequences continue to affect these residents physically, economically, socially, and psychologically. Some overcome these difficulties; others surrender to them.
How much radiation is safe? No one knows. Comprehensive medical research has never been done to determine the health effects of long-term radiation exposure. In the absence of facts, people believe rumors, propaganda, and their own first-hand experiences.
Why do people stay? A lack of alternatives. A sense of duty. Deep ties to the land. Decent jobs. Because this is home.
The closer you are to Chornobyl, the less dangerous it seems. Instead of radiation, Chornobylites today have new fears. They worry about their future. Keeping their jobs. Opportunities for their children. Maintaining their hometowns.
If you lived here, would you stay?
The Chornobyl Angel Project
The book Chornobyl Angel is the result of an initiative by Anna Korolevska, the director of the National Chornobyl Museum in Kyiv, Ukraine, who invited students at local art schools to illustrate paragraphs of text from the book; of the 81 watercolors submitted, 24 were chosen for publication. The Ridna Shkola Ukrainian school in Whippany, New Jersey, also took part in the project.
The Ukrainian Museum and the Children of Chornobyl Relief and Development Fund (CCRDF) are pleased to present 11 of the extraordinary illustrations in Chornobyl Angel. They are on loan from the National Chornobyl Museum and are being shown together with photographs from the Chornobyl Museumís archives. The CCRDF is publishing Chornobyl Angel as a tribute to, and reminder of, the victims of the Chornobyl catastrophe 25 years ago. Together, the CCRDF and the National Chornobyl Museum have dedicated the book to all the men, women, and children around the world who have been affected by nuclear disasters.
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