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CULTURAL DIPLOMACY

International Exhibition Ukraine – Sweden: at the Crossroads of History (17th-18th centuries) in New York

International Exhibition Ukraine – Sweden: at the Crossroads of History (17th-18th centuries) in New York

On April 24, 2010, the exhibition: Ukraine – Sweden: at the Crossroads of History (17th-18th centuries) opened at the Ukrainian Museum in New York. This is an updated version of the exhibition, which was presented in 2008 at the National Museum of History of Ukraine in Kyiv.  This exhibition was the final event of a series of state events dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Ukrainian-Swedish Union and the military-political campaign of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, as well as the 300th anniversary of the first Constitution of Ukraine by Hetman Pylyp Orlyk. A number of unique exhibits were displayed in New York City for the first time,  including the silver icon case of the Troitsko-Illinska Mother of God Icon from the Chernihiv Regional Historical Museum, V.V. Tarnovsky, which was restored by the Bogdan Gubsky Foundation in 2010.

The exhibition brought together 26 Ukrainian, Swedish and American institutions. They presented a total of 160 artifacts in Kyiv and New York, including the flag of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, for the first time. The exhibition took place in the heart of Manhattan and was a continuation of the Ukrainian tour of the national relic, organized by the Bogdan Gubsky Foundation “Ukraine – XXI Century” in 2002.

The exhibition also featured other unique artifacts that first arrived in the United States from Sweden: a flag with the coat of arms of Ivan Mazepa, letters written from Hetmans Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Ivan Vyhovsky, Pylyp Orlyk and Hetmans Kostya Hordienko, Ivan Malashevych to the Swedish Kings. The exhibition also featured the Hetman’s mace, original agreements of 1657 and texts of diplomatic correspondence. For the first time outside Ukraine, rare pieces such as the hat of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky; the Royal Gate of Borysohlibsk Cathedral (made of silver and weighing about a hundred kilograms); and  a precious silver-framed Gospel made for Hetman Ivan Mazepa, were exhibited outside Ukraine.

Most of these rare pieces were unknown to the general public but for a small group of researchers.

The curators of the exhibition in New York were Yurii Savchuk and the Chairman of the Board of the Ukrainian Museum in New York, a well-known American art critic of Ukrainian origin, Professor Jaroslaw Leshko.

Interestingly, New York City became the only city in the world where exhibitions dedicated to Hetman Ivan Mazepa took place twice: the first in 1959, the second – with an interval of 50 years – in 2010.

The international exhibition Ukraine – Sweden: at the Crossroads of History (17th-18th  centuries), displayed an important chapter not only of the history of Ukraine, but also the history of Europe, in general. This is a period of Ukrainian-Swedish relations,when Ukrainian Hetmans fought for the establishment of an independent state.

The implementation of a large-scale museum project (at that time the largest in the history of independent Ukraine) was a new stage in the development of national museum curatorship. 

It should be noted that the exhibition featured two exhibits that were restored by the Foundation: the flag of Hetman Ivan Mazepa from the Kharkiv Historical Museum. And the silver case of the Chernihiv Troitsko-Illinska Mother of God Icon from the Chernihiv Regional Historical Museum, V.V. Tarnovsky.

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