The Kyiv museum staff who stayed to protect cherished artefacts

by | Jul 24, 2022 | World

Listen to this story:Kyiv, Ukraine – Bohdan Patryliak, deputy director of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine, does not recommend a diet of Snickers, Mars bars and white-bread sandwiches.
This had been his staple meal for more than a month when the museum’s grandiose offices, once a centre of academic research, were hastily converted into a fortress protecting some of Ukraine’s most valuable artefacts after Russian forces attempted to storm Kyiv on February 24, 2022.
As Russian troops began to occupy the capital’s western suburbs where Patryliak lived, his mother and sister fled to the relative safety of western Ukraine. So, the softly spoken and erudite 50-year-old made what he believed was a “rational choice” by staying to protect the museum he loved and feared would be a target of Russian aggression.
Patryliak hunkered down in his place of work and filled his days with the physically arduous task of dismantling the museum’s exhibitions and packaging the most valuable artefacts, such as the Golden Pectoral from Tovsta Mohyla, a round breast decoration of a Scythian king unearthed by a Ukrainian archaeologist in 1971, as well as extensive gold and silver numismatic collections for a potential evacuation.
As Russian troops edged closer to Kyiv, he admits to questioning if an evacuation would ever come, …

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