President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska at the opening of the UNESCO exhibition: Our cultural heritage is our soul, which no war can kill

21 September 2023 - 02:23

Olena Zelenska at the opening of the UNESCO exhibition: Our cultural heritage is our soul, which no war can kill

On the third day of the visit to New York (USA) to participate in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, the wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, together with the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) Max Hollein and Vice President Kenneth Weine, presented the MET Speaks Ukrainian campaign to create Ukrainian-language audio commentaries for the museum's exhibits.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a famous US art museum founded in New York in 1870 to increase the interest of the American people in history and art. It is the fourth largest museum in the world by attendance and area.

The museum's collections include more than 2 million exhibits that represent the history of human culture over 5 thousand years.

Due to Russia's military aggression against Ukraine in 2022, the Metropolitan Museum of Art recognized the Ukrainian-born artists Ilya Repin, Ivan Aivazovsky, and Arkhip Kuindzhi as Ukrainian, not Russian, and signed their works accordingly in its exhibitions.

"We are continuing an important project for Ukraine - Ukrainian-speaking guides at world attractions. Almost 70 attractions in 43 countries have already joined us. So I sincerely thank you for the MET Speaks Ukrainian initiative. The appearance of audio description in Ukrainian from one of the world's best museums is an act of solidarity, a position that is very valuable to us. This is not about a tourist option, although it is also important. When the Metropolitan speaks Ukrainian, it automatically confirms once again that it is the language of culture and humanism. It is the language of people who are on the side of the truth," Olena Zelenska emphasized.

In addition, on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, the First Lady, together with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and with the participation of Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Malta Robert Abela and President of Portugal Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, opened the UNESCO exhibition "Building Peace and Resilience through Culture: The Intersection of Culture, Crisis and Sustainable Development."

The purpose of the exhibition is to strengthen international solidarity for the protection of culture in military conflicts and to demonstrate the role that culture plays in peace, sustainability and development. The exhibition will demonstrate how UNESCO is protecting cultural heritage in the contexts of Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Ukraine.

The exhibition features photographs of Ukrainian architectural landmarks destroyed by Russian aggression, including Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral in Odesa.

"It is over 220 years old. It has been part of the city for many generations. Russian missiles hit it at night. They pierced the roof and damaged the altar piece. And in the morning, besides the rescuers, there were many other people there. They didn't come to see the consequences. They came to clean up. Just imagine: after a sleepless night when they and their families could not sleep because of the shelling. This is our Ukrainian attitude. We perceive history as a part of our life, our memory, ourselves," Olena Zelenska noted.

She thanked UNESCO, donors of the Heritage Emergency Fund and all partner countries that help restore, preserve and save Ukrainian landmarks.

The First Lady reminded that UNESCO had recently included the city center of Lviv and St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv on the list of World Heritage in Danger.

"I urge the viewers to see in these photos not just a pile of stones, not just the debris into which the aggressor has turned our landmarks. I urge you to see people. And then you will see the soul - ours and that of our cities. Which no war can kill," the President's wife said.