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FULL CIRCLE: Ukraine's Struggle for Independence 100 Years Ago, 1917-1921
April 7 September 29, 2019
New York—The Ukrainian Museum is pleased to announce the opening of Full Circle: Ukraine’s Struggle for Independence 100 Years Ago, 1917–1921, an exhibition that commemorates the 100th anniversary of one of the most dramatic and fateful periods in Ukrainian history – the struggle for independence from 1917 to 1921 – and traces the creation of the modern state of Ukraine on ethnic Ukrainian territories. On display are informative text and photo panels, official seals and medals, vintage flags, and dozens of original documents – artifacts bearing witness to the turbulent and important period that became the underpinning for the nation's long-awaited sovereignty, finally attained in 1991. The parallels between the struggle for independence one hundred years ago and Russia's aggression toward Ukraine today are all too vivid, engendering the exhibition's title Full Circle. Organizers of the exhibition include The Ukrainian Museum, the Museum of Kyiv History, and the Sheremetiev Museum (Kyiv). Taking part in the exhibition are 26 museums, archives, libraries, institutions of learning, and private collectors from four countries – Ukraine, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and the United States. Dr. Yurii Savchuk, Senior Researcher, Institute of History, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv, is the guest curator of the exhibition. Full Circle will be open to the public from April 7 through September 29, 2019.
With its underlying premise that the Ukrainian nation’s historical aspiration toward a united, sovereign, modern, democratic European state has its roots in the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921, the exhibition is structured around five principal themes:
1. The Revival of the Nation encompasses the period from March 1917 to January 1918 – a time of national awakening during which Ukrainians increasingly embraced the idea of nationhood, with Universals (Declarations) reflecting the gradual transition from autonomy to the proclamation of an independent Ukrainian National Republic.
2. The Development of Statehood traces the establishment of various elements of political life and activity during 1917–1921: the creation of the Ukrainian National Republic, the Ukrainian State (the Hetmanate), and the Directory; the founding of state institutions such as a legislative body, the creation of a national currency, and the establishment of a banking system; and the facilitation of education, culture, and religion, including the establishment of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
3. The Struggle for Ukraine represents the Ukrainian people’s four-year armed struggle for the right to self-determination.
4. International Recognition of Ukraine was an important factor in claiming legitimacy for the national aspirations of Ukrainians. It was through the efforts of Ukrainian diplomacy that important progress in this area was achieved during the period 1917–1921.
5. The Ukrainian Diaspora’s Support and response to the events in Ukraine during its struggle for statehood and ultimately the proclamation of independence.
The majority of the items on display are being exhibited for the first time. Among other things, the exhibition showcases rare objects from key historical events such as the peace treaty signed in Brest-Litovsk on February 9, 1918 between the Ukrainian National Republic and the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and Turkey); memorabilia of historical figures such as Symon Petliura and Volodymyr Vynnychenko; a silver funeral wreath honoring the Sich Riflemen (Sichovi Striltsi) who lost their lives in the 1918 uprising against the Hetmanate; the pen used by President Woodrow Wilson to sign the Ukrainian Day Proclamation in April 1917; state papers documenting Ukraine's bid to join the League of Nations; the state seal of the Ukrainian Central Council and the Great Seal of the Ukrainian National Republic; and printing stones for the production of 1000 karbovanets banknotes in 1918.
On January 22, 1919, the unification of the Ukrainian National Republic and the Western Ukrainian National Republic into one Ukrainian state was announced in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. Full Circle: Ukraine’s Struggle for Independence 100 Years Ago, 1917–1921 underscores the full circle of Ukraine’s path to independence, showing that the country's aspirations for self-determination, a free and democratic society, and a sovereign nation have their roots in events that took place a century ago. Ukraine’s declaration of independence, in 1991, is seen as the final stage of that 100-year process.
The exhibition’s layout and design were conceived by Volodymyr Taran, the designer of two previous exhibitions at The Ukrainian Museum: Ukraine–Sweden: At the Crossroads of History, XVII–XVIII Centuries (2010) and In Metal, On Paper: Coins, Banknotes, and Postage Stamps of Independent Ukraine, 1991–2016 (2016).
In addition to The Ukrainian Museum (NY), these Ukrainian American institutions are among the lenders to the exhibition: the Ukrainian National Museum (Chicago, IL), the Ukrainian Museum-Archives (Cleveland, OH), the Ukrainian Museum and Library of Stamford (CT), the Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences in the U.S.A. (New York), the Shevchenko Scientific Society (New York), the W. K. Lypynsky East European Research Institute (Philadelphia, PA), and the Patriarch Mstyslav Museum at the Ukrainian History and Education Center (Somerset, NJ).
The Ukrainian Museum acknowledges with gratitude the support of the Embassy of Ukraine in the United States.
Full Circle is made possible by Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union, Zenia Mucha, Eugene & Daymel Shklar, Slavomyra Bilas, Lydia Hajduczok, and Prof. Jaroslaw & Alla Leshko.
Major sponsors of the exhibition also include Myron & Olha Hnateyko, Iryna Kurowyckyj, Igor & Dr. Daria Nowakiwska Lissy, Nadija Masyk, Jaroslaw Pikolycky, DDS, Yara Ripetsky Von Helbig, The Heritage Foundation 1st Security Federal Savings Bank, Prof. Renata Holod & Prof. Oleh Tretiak, Ola Grabsky French, Dr. Vsevolod & Lidia Kohutiak, Marijka Martiuk, Catherine Wolowodiuk, Dr. Areta Podhorodecki & Zenon Chernyk, Ulana M. Diachuk, Andrei Harasymiak, Timish & Anya Hnateyko, Oleh S. Ilnytzkyj & Natalia Pylypiuk, Olha Yarema-Wynar & Warren Liebesman, Vera Mencinska, George & Anisa Mycak, Alexander Neprel, Maria Tomorug, the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, and Myron & Marianne Zajac.
Additional support for the exhibition was generously provided by numerous individual donors and organizations. The full roster of sponsors is listed in the exhibition opening invitation, wall text, brochure, and catalogue.
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