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International Exhibition dedicated to the Great Coat of Arms of Ukraine took place in Kyiv (Eng.)
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International Exhibition dedicated to the Great Coat of Arms of Ukraine took place in Kyiv (Eng.)

The co-organizers of the exhibition “ An Emblem of Unity. The Great Coat of Arms of Ukraine: from Narbut to Yakutovych” were the Bogdan Gubsky Foundation “Ukraine – 21st Century”, the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the Sheremetyev Museum as well as an International partner, The Ukrainian Museum and Library in Stamford, Connecticut. In total, 12 museums, archival and library institutions of Ukraine and the United States, took part in the exhibition.

The exhibition was shown at the National Art Museum of Ukraine and was dedicated to the history of the Great Coat of Arms of Ukraine, the origins of which date back to the Liberation Struggle of 1917-1921.

The exhibition consisted of 69 artifacts, many of these artifacts were presented to the public for the first time. These historic pieces are largely unknown to the general public except for a narrow circle of academics. In particular, for the first time, visitors were able to get acquainted with the seal of the Ukrainian State, made according to the original sketches of Vasyl Krychevsky, and the seal of the State Secretariat authored by Heorhiy Narbut. Also, for the first time in the capital of Ukraine, the seals of Ukrainian hetmans were presented to the general public: the founder of the Cossack State – Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Hetman Ivan Skoropadsky.

The pearl of the exhibition was the heraldic album State Insignias of Ukraine, by the artist Mykola Bytynsky, which was shown for the first time to the public in Ukraine after 80 years of its creation.

Mykola Bytynsky made 17 color drawings for the album, State Insignias of Ukraine, at the request of the Government of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in exile in Prague in 1939. That year, Ukrainian emigrants celebrated the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of the unification of Ukrainian lands on January 22, 1919, on Sofiyivska square in Kyiv. A book of heraldic art was published in Prague in 1940. The album was considered lost until it reappeared sometime after World War II. It is currently located in the Ukrainian Museum and Library in Stamford, Connecticut.

Leading figures from a wide range of backgrounds; including, academics, public leaders, military, historians and diplomats as well as ordinary visitors who visited the exhibition, noted that it was very important for Ukraine as it showed the historic origins of the main state symbol, which goes back thousands of years. By following both historical and political events through the evolution of state symbols and insignias, it more confidently paves a deeper understanding of Ukrainian statehood.

The head of the Foundation, Bogdan Gubsky, said:
“Cultural diplomacy is a powerful tool that helps focus on what unites, not divides. The purpose of the exhibition is to highlight more than a century of history of the Great State Emblem of Ukraine and more than a thousand years of tradition. The Princely State of Volodymyr the Great – Trident; the coat of arms of the Zaporizhian Army – a Cossack with a musket; and the coat of arms of the Galicia-Volyn state – with its golden lion. And today, I can say that we have addressed this task one hundred percent. “

The uniqueness of the artifacts presented at the exhibition was emphasized by former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko:
“Our state is 30 years old, and we are still discussing the Great Coat of Arms. Our identification begins here, as it is an emblem which is symbolic of the Ukrainian nation. It is unfortunate and inexcusable, that for many years now, we are still tackling the significance and importance of this. A national emblem is visible to millions of people, and it illustrates the structure of the Ukrainian state. Now that it has become our mission to place the topic of national symbols on top of our agenda, it can be properly addressed.”

Великий Герб України / ©
Great Coat of Arms of Ukraine

The Foundation will continue its long-term activity in locating and returning Ukrainian antiquities — historical and cultural artifacts — ​​that have been stored for a long time outside the country, and presenting them for public display in Ukraine.

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