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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

How museum space flows into the virtual world

Soon new objects from Baturyn will appear on the website “Ukraine Incognita,” including the exposition of the building, by the integrity of which Peter I had paid for the abolition of the Cossack capital. Today these walls are the only “live” witness of the Mazepa times
21 May, 2013 - 10:21
Photo by Artem ZHUKOV, The Day

The Day continues to replenish the fund of virtual tours, which are published on the website “Ukraine Incognita” in category “Museums Online.” This time we went to Baturyn for the second time. There is no need to remind our readers about the history of the Cossack capital and the revival of the historical and cultural reserve here. The Day’s Summer School of Journalism has already visited Baturyn and there is a virtual tour of Kyryl Rozumovsky palace and park ensemble presented on the website incognita.day.kiev.ua. However, there are still many interesting and undiscovered things and places in Baturyn.

Soon, a virtual tour to the house of the general judge Vasyl Kochubei, to the Baturyn Museum of Archeology, and the citadel will appear in the category “Museums Online.” By the way, when we came to Baturyn on May 18 we got to see the opening of the new exposition in Kochubei’s house.

“This is the only house in Baturyn that has been preserved since the time of Ivan Mazepa,” said general director of the reserve Natalia REBROVA. According to a legend, this was how Peter I paid Kochubei “for his service” – his estate was not destroyed by the tsar’s army and fire. It is a monument of national importance and the site that is associated with museum activity since 1923.

According to Ms. Rebrova, the first museum opened here in 1972 and was dedicated to the founder of the rational beekeeping Petro Prokopchuk. Later, Kochubei’s house became the first completed site in the new reserve “Hetman’s Capital.”

“Back then the museum exposition presented the entire history of Baturyn,” said the general director of the reserve. “Today, it is hard to imagine that in 2005 we had only one museum. Then other sites, new expositions opened here one by one and we realized that the exposition in Kochubei’s house became outdated. That’s why we did our best to create a new exposition.”

The new exposition is devoted to Kochubeis family and the peculiarities of the post of a general judge in the Cossack state. Of course, Vasyl Kochubei was a controversial figure. Therefore, we could not help but wondered how this has affected the formation of the exposition.

“This question arose not once during the discussion. Of course, we now understand those contradictions that existed at the time of Mazepa. These were really dramatic events. However, we realized that we won’t be able to reveal such massive topic in the small museum space we have,” said Oleksandr ANTONETS, designer and architect, who worked on the majority of museum projects in Baturyn. “When we started to study the materials, we realized that we had to focus on the facts associated with Baturyn. The most valuable site here is the house itself, even though it hadn’t been preserved in its original form, in particular, the arches had not been preserved. Overall, on the example of this historical site we can analyze problems of similar objects all over Ukraine. In old Europe there are not so many problems of such kind, because many sites have been preserved in their original form. Ukraine’s biggest trouble is that its historical buildings were mutilated and later they were restored according to archival materials. Only a part inside such buildings, maybe a layer of bricks is truly memorial. The rest are the layers that were built up later. However, it is important that people come here and ponder over the historical events associated with this place. Haven’t we falsified the history by creating a new exposition from scratch? I think we haven’t. However, many historians and archaeologists refer to the complex as a new building. I also support the idea that it is right to preserve what remained from the past. It is the European principle of restoration and conservation. And despite this, when everything that was destroyed in Baturyn materialized again, tourist tours come here one after another, and people learn about the history that wasn’t taught to us at school. Therefore, materialization has been justified. Materialized exposition awakens interest to the important historical topics. As a result, we become more aware of ourselves as Ukrainians.”

On June 14 the National Historical and Cultural Reserve “Hetman’s Capital” will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Before the anniversary The Day will offer its readers a more detailed account of how the preserve is gaining the popularity among tourists, what difficulties it faces and how it overcomes them. The example of Baturyn is extremely interesting since the major museum complex is located in a small town, that is why the museum staff have to be active, have to adjust to the modern situation, look for partners, and offer its visitors new and interesting projects. Ukrainian museums often lack such experience.

Some photos from the trip to Baturyn can be viewed on The Day’s website.

By Viktoria SKUBA, The Day