Impact of the Two-Year War on Ukrainian Cultural Heritage

On February 24, when we mark two years since the start of Russia's full-scale war in Ukraine, it is crucial to highlight the significant repercussions this war has had on Ukrainian society, including in the realm of cultural heritage. 

The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine has been rigorously documenting the extensive damages inflicted on cultural infrastructure, revealing that as of January 25, 2024, a total of 1,938 cultural infrastructure objects have been impacted, with 314 completely obliterated. These statistics are not just numbers – they represent a profound loss to the cultural landscape of Ukraine, emphasizing the urgency of addressing these impacts amidst the broader humanitarian crisis.

The destruction has touched all corners of cultural life, spanning creative hubs, libraries, art education institutions, museums, galleries, theaters, cinemas, philharmonics, parks and reserves. The regions most heavily affected are Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia, as well as the city of Kyiv itself. Notably, almost half of the cultural institutions affected are creative hubs, which are crucial in fostering community and cultural expression. This extensive damage across 277 territorial communities vividly illustrates the profound impact on Ukraine's social cohesion and cultural landscape.

Safeguarding Ukraine's cultural heritage should be given an urgent international priority.  The systematic effort by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy to document these damages is a call for international support and solidarity. Ensuring the preservation of cultural heritage is essential not just for the immediate recovery, but as a cornerstone for the long-term resilience of Ukrainian society. 

The Data4UA project stands in solidarity with Ukraine and encourages supporting Ukrainian heritage by action. Each of us can make a difference by donating to organizations working to preserve cultural sites, raising awareness about the plight of Ukraine's cultural heritage, advocating for international support and intervention, volunteering your skills or time to support Ukrainian cultural preservation efforts, and engaging in campaigns that promote the importance of cultural heritage as a vital component of national identity and resilience. 

By standing together, we can help protect and preserve Ukraine's cultural heritage for present and future generations, reinforcing the message that culture and history cannot be erased by war.

24 February 2024