Seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary recently accompanied His Eminence Archbishop Daniel on a visit of the new exhibit “Full Circle: Ukraine’s Struggle for Independence 100 Years Ago, 1917-1921” at the Ukrainian Museum in New York City.
Following the close research cooperation of the Ukrainian History and Education Center (South Bound Brook/Somerset, NJ) with Dr. Yurii Savchuk of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine and due to the cooperation with the UOC of the USA’s Archivist Dr. Michael Andrec, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel had a chance to formally familiarize himself with the monumental work that has been done in preparing several exhibits in Ukraine, United States of America and Europe, dedicated to the Centennial of Ukrainian Statehood and diplomacy.
Having received the formal invitation of Dr. Savchuk to participate in the opening ceremony of the exhibit and being unable to attend it due to pastoral Lenten liturgical responsibilities in the parishes of the Church, Archbishop Daniel, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony traveled to New York City for the formal visit to the Ukrainian Museum in New York on Thursday, April 11, 2019.
Full Circle: Ukraine’s Struggle for Independence 100 Years Ago, 1917–1921, is 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), numerous Ukrainian American institutions are among the lenders to the exhibition: Patriarch Mstyslav Museum at the Ukrainian History and Education Center (Somerset, NJ), 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).
At the conclusion of the formal tour, Dr. Savchuk – curator of the exhibit, expressed his sincere gratitude to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, the Ukrainian History and Education Center, especially to the staff of both the Church and the UHEC for the cooperation and shared vision for the exhibit and future projects.
Expressing his gratitude for the guided tour, Archbishop Daniel reflected upon the importance of the historical exhibit at the time of Ukraine’s continued effort in nurturing a stable and mature Ukrainian State. Vladyka Daniel stressed the importance of the Ecclesiastical communities of 100 years ago and their struggle and contribution in the process of spiritual formation of the nation. Presenting small tokens of appreciation to Dr. Savchuk as well as to the representatives and the board of directors of the Ukrainian Museum (NY), His Eminence reiterated the readiness of the UOC of the USA and the Church’s institutions of ministry for further cooperation.
Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan